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  • When was CONUA created?

CONUA was formed on 12th February, 2018.

  • Why was CONUA formed?

In a democracy, when people are aggrieved, they wait for the next election to right the wrongs with their votes. However, ASUU’s National Executive Council (NEC) denied members at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, this democratic benefit by cancelling the results of duly won elections in 2013, because ASUU-NEC did not like the winners. As a divide-and-rule tactic, ASUU-NEC manipulated its preferred members to assume the leadership of the branch.

Protests against the consequences of this travesty were met with expulsion and suspension from ASUU. All hopes for democratic redress within the union were therefore dashed. This led to the creation of CONUA, as a refuge for those who had been driven out of ASUU and had been irremediably wronged.

  • Was CONUA created or incited to be created by government to weaken ASUU?

No. In fact, the main ASUU action that led to the creation of CONUA happened in 2013 when the ruling All Progressives Congress was still in its infancy and well before the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari administration was formed in 2015.

  • Why did government wait until October 2022 before deciding to register CONUA?

Regarding the decision to register CONUA in 2022, when the application was submitted in 2018, what was most important for the union was that “justice delayed” had eventually become justice dispensed. This was so, because the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN, had publicly stated that, for quite some time, CONUA had “met all the requirements of registration”, but that the union had not yet been registered, because “we just respect ASUU. We don’t want to be seen as the one breaking ASUU.” (

  • At what point in its existence did CONUA become a recognised trade union?

Section 2(1) of the Trade Unions Act states as follows: “A trade union shall not perform any act in furtherance of the purposes for which it has been formed unless it has been registered under this Act: Provided that nothing in this subsection shall prevent a trade union from taking any steps (including the collection of subscriptions or dues) which may be necessary for the purpose of getting the union registered.”

In other words, CONUA was recognised by law as a bonafide trade union right from the time it was formed on 12th February, 2018, and it was entitled, from that date, to collect the check-off dues of its members by and for itself, as it continued to pursue its registration with the Ministry of Labour and Employment.

Moreover, Section 12(4) of the Trade Unions Act states as follows: “Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Act, membership of a trade union by employees shall be voluntary and no employee shall be forced to join any trade union or be victimised for refusing to join or remain a member.”

  • What is the geographical spread of CONUA?

The Union is established in all the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria. In all, there are twenty-seven (27) universities currently enrolled in CONUA, and they are:

  1. Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State
  2. University of Benin, Benin, Edo State
  3. Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State
  4. Kwara State University, Malete, Kwara State
  5. Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, Ekiti State
  6. University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State
  7. Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Port Harcourt, Rivers State
  8. Federal University, Otuoke, Bayelsa State
  9. Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu Alike-Ikwo, Ebonyi State
  10. University of Uyo, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State
  11. National Mathematical Centre, Abuja, Federal Capital Territory
  12. Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia State
  13. Federal University of Technology, Akure, Ondo State
  14. Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State
  15. Federal University, Lokoja, Kogi State
  16. University of Jos, Jos, Plateau State
  17. Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State
  18. Federal University, Gashua, Yobe State
  19. Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, Bauchi State
  20. Umaru Musa Yar’adua University, Katsina, Katsina State
  21. Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, Sokoto State
  22. Federal University, Wukari, Taraba State
  23. Federal University, Dutse, Jigawa State
  24. University of Maiduguri, Maiduguri, Borno State
  25. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai, Niger State
  26. University of Abuja, Abuja, Federal Capital Territory
  27. University of Calabar, Calabar, Cross River State

The membership of some other universities is currently being processed.

  • Was CONUA ever an illegal trade union between the time it was formed and the time it was registered?

No. In fact, the Trade Unions Act is categorical in this regard when it provides as follows: “23. Trade unions not unlawful as such

(1) The purposes of a trade union shall not, by reason only that they are in restraint of trade, be unlawful so as to render void or voidable any agreement or trust relating to the union; …(4) Without prejudice to section 2(1) of this Act, the foregoing provisions of this section shall apply in relation to an unregistered trade union as they apply in relation to a trade union, subject to the following restrictions, that is to say- (a) if the trade union has not been registered, the said provisions shalI apply only as regards – …” In other words, an unregistered trade union is not illegal only by virtue of its non-registration. The difference between such an unregistered trade union and a registered one is that, as specified in Section 5(7) of the Trade Unions Act, a registered and certificated one “shall have all the powers and duties of a trade union registered under this Act”, while an unregistered trade union shall have only limited powers and duties.

  • What has CONUA done or what would it do differently from ASUU?

One of the cardinal ideologies of CONUA is to ensure uninterrupted academic calendar in our universities, and in doing so to prioritise the welfare of members as well as not to subject students to untold hardship. In this regard, during strikes by some in the university system in the past, CONUA members had continued impactful teaching, among other duties. Going forward, CONUA would endeavour at all times to engage the government in a non-adversarial, constructive manner that would bring about a win-win situation for all the parties concerned. Whenever we find it expedient, our union will have proactive engagements with the National Assembly, especially with respect to budgeting for education. Moreover, when we consider it to be in the overall interest of the nation, CONUA will consider judicial intervention to resolve issues in contention.

  • Why should CONUA members’ salaries withheld on account of the 2022 ASUU strike be released?

CONUA members’ withheld salaries should be paid, because that’s the right thing to do, on both moral and legal grounds.

Section 43(1)(b) of the Trade Disputes Act states as follows: “where any employer locks out his workers, the workers shall be entitled to wages and any other applicable remuneration for the period of the lock-out and the period of the lock-out shall not prejudicially affect any rights of the workers being rights dependent on the continuity of period of employment.” It is on this provision of the labour law that CONUA has based its insistence that the “no work, no pay” policy should not be applied to its members, since they did not declare a strike and did not join the ASUU strike. Rather, what happened was that the different university authorities locked CONUA members out by closing the universities down and sending the students away.

Dr. ‘Niyi Sunmonu
National President
Congress of University Academics (CONUA)