It was meant to be a press briefing organized by the Lagos zone of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, led by Prof Olusiji Sowande of the Federal University of Agriculture (FUNAAB) but it ended up in a serious uproar as members of ASUU Lagos State University after rising from a congress rose against the press conference.
Their grouse was that they were not informed of the briefing as part of the agenda of the congress of ASUU-LASU and that the briefing was purported by the ASUU Zonal coordinator after listening to a side of the judgment of their chairman’s dismissal.
It took the intervention of some of the comrades before the press briefing titled : “The Assault on ASUU, Lagos State University Branch” could hold.
According to the zonal coordinator, Prof Sowande, the Lagos zone of ASUU condemns in its entirety, the ignoble decision of the LASU Governing Council which purportedly dismissed the Chair of the Branch, Dr Isaac Oyewumi, the Vice Chairman, Dr Adebowale Adeyemi-Suenu and some other academic staff on unfounded, baseless and trump up charges.
According to him,, the zone regrets the puppeteer role played by some members of the Council in the process that struggled to give a veneer of credibility to the bizarre trial process.
‘We are not in doubt that the ugly developments in LASU fits into a wider pattern of assault on our Union across university campuses by opportunists in power whose aim is the erosion and bastardisation of true university culture and the introduction of impunity and elitism into the system to the disadvantage of the idea of robust scholarship and the interest of the generality of Nigerians”, he said.
He said the Lagos zone os ASUU believes that the current development has a major aim, the weakening of the Union as a prelude to a flurry of policies and decisions that are not only against the interest of members but also in the long run, the progress of the University.
He alleged that the zone is aware that since 2016, the council and the university administration have been perfecting plans to increase tuition again and a return to days when LASU became a ghost town because students could not afford tuition, the incubation of related obnoxious policies such as programme rationalization as well as No Vacancy no promotion are evils of yesterday that should not be allowed to return into the University.
“The zone wishes to also condemn unequivocally attempts by the Vice Chancellor to forcefully eject the Chairperson of the Union from the Union’s secretariat as well as the University premises and assures that efforts orchestrate a change of leadership in the LASU Branch of our Union by chicanery will not succeed”, he said.
He warned that the zone will not continue to endure the unwarranted assault on the Chairman and his Vice thus the general public should hold the Vice Chancellor accountable for whatever outcome that follows the ugly trend.
Speaking with journalists after the press briefing, a member of ASUU-LASU, Dr Patrick Adegbuyi of Mechanical Engineering department alleged that the Chairman and his Vice have amassed wealth under the cover of ASUU leadership adding that lecturers from his own department were also dismissed and never argued with the management.
‘It was Isaac Oyewunmi that was dismissed and not ASUU-LASU so he and his Vice should just step aside, and the exco should be dissolved they run the Union the way they want use our money to buy expensive phones they also exploit students, instead of them to step aside they are trying to cause crisis in LASU by dragging ASUU Lagos zone into the matter”, he said.
Adegbuyi said the zone is already biased and presently LASU does not have a union as he believed that the present exco are not fit to continue because their dismissal follows due process and that they were given fair trial and should go to court of law if they are not satisfied.
Another member, Dr Dele Seteolu of the department of Political Science said he does not support the dismissal because it does not follow due process, he alleged that the drama that played out at the congress meeting does not represent the prevalent position and the mood on campus.
‘It is a deliberately, orchestrated and organized attempt to hijack the Union we do not need an interim or caretaker committee it is illegal, ASUU-LASU is still intact, we are not saying that those found guilty should not be punished but it should follow due process”, he said.
According to him, the Union stands for democratic principles, ideologically clear union that thrives on fairness, equity and justice.
Reacting on behalf of the management,Acting. Head, Centre for Information, Press and Public Relations, Lagos State University, Ojo, Mr. Ademola Adekoya, said when ASUU National approached the Vice Chancellor to demand for the report on allegation against the dismissed academic staff, the VC could not hand it over to them because the case was still ongoing and the Governing Council was yet to take decision on it therefore the allegation against the VC that he refused to produce evidence is baseless.