Divided They Stand

Cross section of members of the Academic Staff Union of Secondary School teachers
Cross section of members of the Academic Staff Union of Secondary School teachers

Despite several court rulings on its legal status, Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools of Nigeria vows never to go back to the Nigeria Union of Teachers as member

|  By Augustine Adah  |  Mar. 4, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

THE lingering crisis in the Nigerian Union of Teachers, NUT, is far from over. The Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools of Nigeria, ASUSS, which formerly was part of the NUT, has vowed to resist all pressures by concern Nigerians to return its members to the NUT. ASUSS said it was determined to maintain a separate union for secondary school teachers instead of leading them back to the NUT. Secondary school teachers’ believe that the interests of the secondary school teachers would be better protected in the new union than in NUT.

At the state congress of the union held in Abeokuta, two weeks ago, Tunde Folarin, president, AUSS, Ogun State chapter, stressed that it was no longer fashionable to keep secondary and primary school teachers in one union. Folarin said that ASUSS would use all the available legal means to ensure that the new association remained the umbrella union for all  secondary school teachers in the country. Since the present executive was elected, it has been facing series of battles to determine the legality of the new body. The association had expressed its preparedness to challenge all court rulings that declared the new body illegal.

“We have an undying conviction that going back to the NUT is not a viable replacement for our welfare to be guaranteed. The placement of a square peg in a round hole does not drive monumental development. Grouping teachers in secondary schools with their primary school counterparts in one union is no more fashionable; it is retrogressive and therefore represents perversion of the system.”, Folarin said.  The association’s boss decried any move to subjugate the interest of secondary school teachers in the NUT, with whom ASUSS had continued to engage in legal battles since it decided to pull out in 2001.

But Jamiu Idris, former state secretary, NUT, has dismissed Folarin’s statement that secondary school teachers would not return to the NUT. “Already, some teachers are returning to the umbrella body because the court has declared the existence of ASUSS as illegal, and it is only the recalcitrant members that are still in the union that the court has declared illegal,” Idris said. The rivalry existing between primary and secondary school teachers has caused division between them.

Last September, when the NUT, Lagos State, declared a strike action demanding full implementation of Teachers Salary Scale, TSS, some members of ASUSS dissociate themselves from the strike. Kazeem Alabi, chairman, ASUSS, Lagos State chapter, made it clear that its members were not part of the strike because many of them were teaching in their respective schools.

Desmond Dada, a retired school administrator, based in Ekiti State, has urged members of the two bodies to end their rivalry which is capable of threatening the welfare of teachers. “I think the rivalry is uncalled for because the essence of forming a union or an association is to create a platform whereby the interest of the members would be protected,” Dada said.

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