Coalition of Civil Society organisations on Wednesday stormed Lagos Assembly to lodge complaint on the perennial crisis in Lagos State University (LASU), Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH) and Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education (AOCOED) and called for an urgent intervention of the government to salvage the Institutions.
In a letter submitted to the House, which was jointly signed by the United Action for Democracy (UAD), Sahara Education Development Initiative (SEDI), Workbond International Network (WIN) and Committee for Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) the coalition stated that the dismissal of ASUU leaders prompted the peaceful rally, while appealing for Governor Sanwo-Olu’s intervention.
The group therefore demanded the reinstatement of five ASUU-LASU officials “illegally dismissed by the Prof. Bayo Ninalowo-led governing council, and the Vice Chancellor, Professor Lanre Fagbohun.”
It further requested the Governor to constitute a visitation panel to the institution as a matter of urgency.
Other demands of the coalition included: immediate reinstatement of ASUU-LASU check-off due illegally stopped by Lanre Fagbohun since January, 2019. Immediate promotion of union officers and loyalists who were said to have been denied promotions by the university administration.
They also called on the Governor of the state to “investigate N198 million pension funds of LASU staff used to buy exotic cars and Immediate investigation of the N1.3billion NEEDs funds mismanaged by Prof. Obafunwa and Fagbohun.”
One of the leaders of the group, Mr. Kunle Wiseman Ajayi urged the government to resolve the matter soon.
“We will continue the protest until our demands are met. Nigerians are suffering, the country is rich yet our people are suffering.
“Why are we suffering, is it that we are poor, no, a few people just sit on our money. They are wasting our resources, they are even using our resources to fight us,” he said.
He added that there were several issues in all the tertiary institutions in Lagos State, and that all the ivory towers in the state were in a big mess.
He said: “The people that are leading the institutions are not leading intellectually, they are leading in a gestapo manner.
“When workers of LASPOTECH fought over the salary scale that have been accepted nationwide and have not been implemented in the school, 38 workers of the institution were arrested and detained in Kirikiri Maximum Prison.
“Just a week after, one of them died after they were released. Also, five of the Non-Academic staff of LASPOTECH were victimised and unjustly punished.
“Infact, the high handed of Mr. Sogunro of LASPOTECH is so much that he openly and brazenly disrespected the position of the Lagos State Government over the suspended LASU staff.
“The government of Lagos State said that all those who had been suspended should appeal and they did and we heard that the state government wrote the management of the school that the staff should be reinstated. But the management of the school had not reinstated.”
He said further that “five lecturers were undemocratically and unjustly sacked in LASU. We are demanding the immediate reinstatement of all the sacked workers in LASPOTECH and LASU.”
This was corroborated by Mr. Omotaje B Olawale Saint, who said thay they had held several meetings with the state government on some of the issues.
Saint said that the Visitation Panel to LASPOTECH was yet to work, and that one of the people involved in the crisis had died, while one was in a critical condition.
“We want you to intervention on humanitarian on the sick workers, who became sick after the incarceration. We are asking for more and we don’t want it to be delayed.
“We want an urgent intervention of the government. The politicians are more eager to allocate jumbo salaries and allocation to themselves. When it comes to education and economy, they neglect them. They only want increments for themselves,” he said.
Also speaking, Chairman of the Senior Staff of Nigerian Polytechnics, Mr. Oluseye Ero-Phillips said that they had appealed on the basis of the demands, and that they were under pressure from their colleagues.
“Just last week five of our colleagues were dismissed in LASPOTECH after just 24 hours trial.
“Some of them are in the prison now. When you are going to work, it is either you will be arrested or you will die.
“As we are talking, five of them have been dismissed, two are in Kirikiri and 30 have been slated for sack and they are facing disciplinary panel.
“We urge that the Visitation Panel should begin to work as a matter of urgency,” he said.
The State Secretary of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Lagos State Branch
Comrade Bello Ayodele Muftau, also spoke on behalf of the workers.
Reacting on behalf of the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, the Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade, stated that he represented the constituency, where the incident were happening.
He was joined by Hon. Bisi Yusuff from Alimosho Constituency 1.
Agunbiade stressed that the case was not new to the House and that they had interacted on it.
The lawmaker added that the case of LASPOTECH was not brought to the House by the lecturers or students of the school, but that he brought the case before the House.
He expressed however, disappointment with the representatives of the workers that met with the committee of the House on the matter in the past.
“They left the committee and went about saying all sorts of things about the House of Assembly.
“They were saying that we were incompetent and said a lot of things about us. I was also a unionist, there is always a time to retreat and a time to advance.
“You don’t do things your own way alone, you do it in a way that you win the sentiments of members of the public.
“Every struggle is local and you have to generalise by bringing people to your side. We are not happy the way things are and we have intervened in our own way,” he said.
He urged the workers not to allow anybody to make LASPOTECH a battle ground, saying that it was where they work and earn their living.
“You have children and others who would be in the school. They are entitled to peaceful environment.
“There is a difference between a student union and workers union. There is an extent a student union can go that workers union cannot go.
“As long as there is crisis in that school there would be no peace. We want you to go back and speak to yourself. No state would allow lawlessness to continue. We have had crisis in LASU before and we resolved it, why are we having problem in resolving your own.
“We would look into the matter too. But there are some people that are causing trouble in LASU,” he said.
He advised them to be ready for peace to reign, and that justice must be done and it must be seen to have been done.
He added: “We would report to the matter and the House would intervene and the Speaker would do something about it.
“When the problem was brewing you did not being it to the House, it was when it boomerang that you came here and you did not even allow us to do it the way it should be done.
“In unionism you have consultation, consolidation and confrontation, which ought to be the last. You don’t start with confrontation. There is nothing to gain in endless strike. We will definitely do something about it.”
Also at the protest to address the coalition was the Director of Political Affairs, Office of Civic Engagement under the office of the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Hundeyin Kolawole