The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) has disagreed with the recent statement by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that the strike by university lecturers could jeopardise the 2019 elections.
The union in a statement signer by its spokesperson , Abdussobur Salaam, in a statement said it found the statement ”highly unfortunate” and unbecoming of the national electoral umpire and notes that such ”unguarded statement” has a tendency to erode the confidence of Nigerians in the 2019 elections and is a threat to democracy in itself.
”We hereby demand that such unguarded and unbecoming statement is retracted in the interest of our democracy,” he said.
The statement read further that the union was worried by the statement of INEC ”using the 2019 elections as a bait”.
He said while SSANU as a stakeholder in the university system is interested in the speedy resolution of the impasse between the Federal Government and ASUU, the ongoing national strike by ASUU has nothing to do with the 2019 elections.
Mr Salaam said it is true that many lecturers are picked by INEC as adhoc staff, but said ”they are not picked on the altar of ASUU and participation as adhoc staff of INEC should never been seen as a union activity.”
”To thus tie the conduct and success of the 2019 elections to the ASUU strike is indeed unfortunate and smacks of mischief on the part of INEC,” he said.
He said participation in national elections by citizens should not be seen from the prism of unionism but as a national duty and responsibility.
”We however note that given the antecedents of the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmud Yakubu, such pro- ASUU advocacy may not be totally unexpected,” he said, noting that Mr Yakubu once chaired the National Committee on NEEDS Assessment of Nigerian Universities.
He alleged that the INEC chairman, Mr Yakubu, advocated the dismissal of many non teaching staff in the university system.
”The INEC chairman had chosen to advocate the position of his union, using his vantage position as INEC Chairman to blackmail government and threaten the 2019 elections. We however find this statement as union advocacy taken too far because of the danger such statement portends for our democracy,” SSANU said.
”While we call on the federal government Government to speedily resolve the issues in contention with ASUU, we take exception to any statement or action aimed at threatening the democratic process, using the ongoing industrial action as a bait, ” he concluded.