The Director General, Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies, Ilorin, Kwara State, Comrade Issa Aremu, has affirmed that industrial relations and disputes should not become Industrial warfare in any human endeavor. He made the assertion at the maiden edition of a Colloquium organized by the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU), Federal University of Technology Akure, FUTA chapter to commemorate the 2023 international worker’s day on Thursday 27th April 2023. Aremu, Vice President of Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC) between 2007-2015, while speaking on the theme, “Entrenching Industrial Peace in Nigerian Public Tertiary Institutions,” said while resolution and handling of disputes require different approaches; however cooperation within the University system and synergy between government and unions can enhance peaceful coexistence. He said the mishandling of disputes by parties in the system has exacted huge tolls on the tertiary education sector with students bearing the huge cost of the serial negative consequences. Comrade Aremu said he hopes and prays that uninterrupted academic calendar will become achievable in the nearest future. He said this can become a reality when all parties to industrial relations thread the path of amicable dispute resolution instead of warfare.
According to the astute labor leader, education in the 70s was at an enviable height where students were well catered for and fed very well. Aremu said the same cannot be said of students now as they face myriads of problem compounded by incessant strikes and shutdown of universities. He said the academic wellbeing of students and the interest of workers in the sector should guide operators of the system to always resolve disputes in such a way that it would not cripple the system and jeopardize the future of young Nigerians. Aremu advised that dialogue must be adopted while government and labor leaders should know that it cannot always win at all times. He urged University Management to put in place industrial relation framework that will improve the human capital development of staffs. He restated that without Industrial Union culture, the practice of unionism would be vain.
Addressing the gathering, the National President of Nigerian Labor Congress (NLC) Comrade Joe Ajaero said to entrench industrial peace in the University there must be equity, justice and fairness in the working environment. According to him, government must be seen to be realistic and doer of what they preach. Ajaero, represented by the National President, SSANU, Comrade Mohammed Ibrahim, assures members that the Unions will continue to protect staff interests and reject any form of intimidation from any quarters. He said the idea by FUTA SSANU to build a new secretariat shows that the branch believes in capacity building of its members. He said NLC is always in support of building structures that can help advance and improve human capital development of its members.
The chairman of the occasion and Pro Chancellor, FUTA Ambassador Godknows Igali, congratulated SSANU for picking a very apt time to organize the colloquium. Igali affirmed that the lead speaker did justice to the topic. He enjoined everyone to be of good cheer in a period of transition which the country is presently in. He assured that peace, progress and more milestones will continue to be witnessed in FUTA. In a similar remark, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Adenike Oladiji congratulated the leadership of SSANU union spearheaded by Comrade Felix Adunbi for putting together such a ground breaking event. She urged participants to consolidate on all that was discussed for the good of the University system.
The father of the day and founder of Elizade University, Ilara Mokin, Chief Michael Ade Ojo represented by the Registrar of the institution, Mr. Omololu Adegbenro, congratulated SSANU for the success of holding the colloquium. He said FUTA SSANU is a role model in the committee of institutions worthy of emulation and hopes and pray that the tempo of the event can be replicated in subsequent years.
The Olowo of Owo Kingdom, Oba Ajibade Gbadegesin, who was also at the event, commended the continuous growing town and gown relationship between FUTA and the traditional institution. He advised the management to ensure that more encompassing and holistic programs are held from time to time. The Royal father said industrial disharmony is inevitable but ability to resolve such amicably is the game changer.
The Governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu SAN, in a remark at the ceremony thanked the organizers for such a very impactful initiative. Akeredolu, represented by the Special Adviser on Union Matters, Mr. Dare Aragbaiye, said his government has always believed in the theory of collective bargaining as the only solution to dispute resolution. He also said that staff training and retraining is very important. According to the Governor, the struggle must be goal oriented and purposeful and wished SSANU and other Unions the best in future endeavors.
In his address, Chairman SSANU, FUTA, Comrade Felix Adunbi said the gathering was to stimulate generation of ideas for a better industrial relationship in the University system. He said the colloquium is the maiden edition of the discourse which hopefully will be the beginning of more events to generate ideas that will contribute to the development of the polity. “Let us keep in mind the importance of constructive dialogue and the exchange of ideas as the foundation of industrial relationship. It is through such discussions that we can make progress as an academic community and the society in general, and also find lasting solutions to the complex problems we all face as a people,” Adunbi ,the convener of the colloquium ,said. He expressed appreciation to Owa of Ogbagi Akoko , Oba Victor Adetona and other dignitaries who created time to attend the event.