Chairman of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) Lagos State University (LASU) branch, Dr. Ibrahim Bakare says the election that brought his executives into office was based on congress resolution.
Dr. Bakare told The Education Report that as at the time of his election, there was no ASUU-LASU executives because of the sack of five exco members for misconduct and also that their tenure had expired, thus congress resolution to conduct fresh election.
Apparently reacting to the disclaimer of his executives by the national body and ASUU Lagos Zone, Dr. Bakare insisted that he and other elected officers were given the mandate to run the affairs of ASUU-LASU by congress and because their can’t be a vacuum after the expiration of the former executives tenure as well as the sack of five officers by the Governing Council of LASU.
He disclosed that throughout when the crisis in ASUU-LASU was ranging, the national body and ASUU Lagos zone supported the sacked executives and was not ready to reconcile aggrieved members on campus.
The ASUU-LASU chairman faulted the national body and ASUU Lagos Zone method of resolving internal crisis in branches and advised the union to adopt pragmatic and reconciliatory approach rather than back one group during internal crisis.
He debunked the insinuations that the present executives of the union were sponsored by the university management, arguing that the different between the former officers and the current one is that they work together with management to move LASU to greater height and cited the recent ranking of the university as the third best in the country.
“The VC belongs to the management team. When there are issues, we negotiate with management and the process of negotiation does not generate to crisis. We work together with management to move LASU forward.
“The present executives have been able to take LASU to a greater height within eight months we assumed office. We have published our account three times which the former officers couldn’t do for years. Instead of ASUU resolving the crisis, they helped to fuel the crisis between the union and management. We are not going back. We have several achievements to show for our eight months in office.
“Must we put the lives of our students on a stand still? ASUU should go back to the drawing board and re-strategize on how to resolve internal crisis in branches. The question of saying certain things must be done their own way, is wrong.
“ASUU succeeded in breaking us into groups and the new ASUU-LASU officers are working hard to reconcile the different groups. They want things done their way and have been intimidating members. It is the branches that make up the national body. They joined the sacked union officers to threaten the peace of LASU.
“Some senior professors were not respected by the sacked executives, when they make positive comments on issues, they are insulted. How can about ten persons run the affairs of the union? ASUU–LASU members are ASUU –LASU, we are not members of Congress of University Academics (CONUA). Let the leadership of the union change their strategy. Their approach to issues, including dealing with branches is not working. The leadership needs to have a rethink and move the union forward,” Bakare stated.
On the recent strike, Dr. Bakare said the decision to embark on the industrial action was approved by congress in compliance with the resolution of Joint Action Committee (JAC) made up of staff unions in the state-owned tertiary institutions.
Bakare said following the strike and protest, the state government agreed to pay the new minimum wage from October while the current executives activated negotiation for the Earned Academic Allowance (EAA) with LASU management which the former executives abandoned.
According to him, the union got the commitment of the state government which asked the university management to work out the cost implication of the new wage.
The chairman stressed that if the national body was sincere about it intervention, the leadership will have called for the resolution of the internal crises, adding “LASU is now second best university in Nigeria because there is peace on campus. In terms of citations; we have the highest mention, we attract many research grants, our students are doing well and linkages for the benefit of staff and students.”
Said he: “We will not stop negotiating for our members’ welfare. LASU is no longer a glorified secondary school as ascribed some years back. We are now rated high. The era of crisis is gone in LASU. The good thing about today’s LASU, is that we work together to promote research.
“I will not deny that Prof. Abiodun Ogunyemi is not my national president. We have nerve gone against Ogunyemi’s directive; rather ASUU is the one going against our congress resolution. The zonal coordinator was unable to resolve the crisis.
“There were no executives of ASUU-LASU as at the time I emerged as chairman. Why will ASUU fight for only five members when many lecturers were disengaged from the services of the university? Others were sacked but the national body did not intervene on their behalf?
‘’For the remaining executives of the previous leadership, no election was held and no congress resolution that mandated them to continue in office. Their tenure had expired, so ASUU-LASU members called for dissolution but the national body was not interested, members insisted on fresh election.’’
On the claim by the sacked executive that Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun was not up to ten years as a professor before contesting for the VC position, Dr. Bakare said the selection process that led to him becoming VC is beyond ASUU–LASU.
‘’The reality on ground is that ASUU-LASU does not dabble into certain issues. We are suppose to be solution provider to LASU, rather than the problem creator. ASUU-LASU was not involved in the selection process. We are not even supposed to be involved in the appointment of a VC,” he pointed out.