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ASUU leadership not fair to LASU –Chairman

Dr. Ibrahim Bakare is the Chairman of the Lagos State University (LASU) chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). In this interview with KAYODE OLANREWAJU, he speaks about emergence of the new executive council, non-recognition of the executive council by the national body, and other sundry issues

There is a document from the ASUU National that the new executive council of ASUU-LASU is not recognised, what is your position on this?

In actual fact, what we receive was a document considered as a resolution from ASUU-NEC where a number of issues were raised. But, till date we are yet to receive a copy of that document officially. So, if there is any need on the part of ASUU-NEC to raise issues, which is well documented, we expect to be given a copy. But, till now, we remained undisturbed because we are committed to the actualisation of three cardinal objectives of ASUU-LASU, which centred on peace, actualisation of the welfare of our members, and thirdly, reconciliation.

It is quite unfortunate that at this point in time, ASUU National that ought to have been involved in providing solutions to the problems of ASUU-LASU is now seeing as trying to fuel crisis in LASU. We are not going to accept that because LASU Congress has really spoken and the interest of members of ASUU-LASU is sacrosanct, very vital and important, and we expect that except there is contrary view taken by ASUU-LASU Congress we remained the recognised members of executive council of ASUU-LASU at the moment.

For election of a branch congress, ASUU National has an input and should be involved, what was the situation in your own election?

Well, we did not want to trade words with ASUU National. But the situation before our emergence is that of a father that have so many children that really showed that one is more important than the others. And, in that situation, the challenges and contradictions here and there were not being resolved. Not genuinely being resolved. So, it was the doctrine of necessity which was deeply considered by the ASUU-LASU congress men and women that actually brought us to office.

I think is important for ASUU National to find a better strategy to really create a very strong and healthy relationship with us. We expect them to find solutions to the problems at hand.

With respect to the NEC decision, I do not want to discuss that because those that actually signed the resolution are not those I want comment on. There are a lot of impregnated issues involved and ASUU national should for God’s sake try to be fair, to be just in the way they address issues. We have quite number of constitutional breaches in terms of the way ASUU national has really handled the issues.

Of course, ASUU national understands that for one to be recognised as members of ASUU-LASU he or she must first have been employed by the Lagos State University. That was why I said earlier that I didn’t really want to go beyond that about those who signed the document. So, ASUU national body should address that. That ought to have been done. For a number of years the leadership of ASUU left us with our problems at LASU and those they brought to resolve the problems never knew us, or the nitty-gritty of the problems and that was why the problems lingered for so long. And, because the congress needed representatives that will really push for their cases in terms of promotion of their welfare, in terms of negotiating for them locally and outside LASU, indeed that was why in the wisdom of the congress they felt  that election should be conducted so that the gap, or lacuna created would not exist for long.

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As a child of ASUU national body and now that the body has said that they didn’t recognise your executive council, what is going happen?

Of course, I think the question of recognition is something that we need to renegotiate with time. You cannot expect ASUU national to really say well, they recognise us because of the circumstances at hand. But, what we are more particular about is the stability of the institution. ASUU national, for instance, should have taken this into consideration. Like I had rightly said, for a number of years they never developed very pragmatic solutions to tackle the challenges we had locally. And, as they were investigating or visiting LASU more and more, ASUU-LASU became more unbroken. But, people felt enough is enough.

Is that why ASUU-LASU did not join the strike, in view of its consistence whenever a directive is given by the national body?

Before ASUU-LASU embarked on strikes in the past, they would have to critically review the situation. Congress men and women needed conviction for them to agree or to say okay the majority says that we should observe the strike. But, I tell you that the situation at LASU today, is very fragile. The gains we have recorded at LASU in the last four years

and some months, we do not want to trade them away and a part from that there are quite a number of issues awaiting attention either from the university management or the state government that we feel we need to really pursue genuinely and conscientiously. So, breaking that cord of peace or understanding or agreement will not do any good to us. I think that is the plight of the majority of the congress men and women for such decision, or interest as that matter may be.

So, right now, we have assessed the situation and we really considered the importance of allowing peace to reign at the university in the light of the welfare needs of our members.

Let me give you an instance, the issue of Earned Academic Allowance (EAA) is very critical and key to our members because we have been on this issue for long and right now that the EAA is receiving greater attention from the management because we are really seeing what they are doing and within the next few days nine members of the union would have really been able to access what is due to them in terms of entitlements. But, must we now break that cord of peace that will facilitate the preparation of the financial implications of the EAA?

Secondly is the issue of minimum wage. For example, we need to work together with the management to ensure that members of  the union are happy. The minimum wage has also been complied by the management because we have been interacting with them to fast track its payment and as I am talking to you now we need to work hand-in-hand in order to ensure that it is fully actualised.

Thirdly, we also have a number of structures that are about to be completed on campus that will also bring robust benefits to our members, and must we truncate that progress. You can see quite a number of good things that are happening within the institution. We also have a number of our members, who actually attended the last promotion interview and who are waiting to receive their letters. Must we now truncate that because of unionism? So, we need to focus primarily and fundamentally on how to get the needs and welfare of our members to their tables. And, that is what we are really focusing on. Like I mentioned earlier that we are focusing on three major objectives of peace, actualization of members’ welfare and reconciliation, and we do not want these to be truncated. It is because LASU is peaceful that we have recorded these good things.

Besides, the welfare of our members is very key and germane and we want to internalise good things of life for our members in LASU before we think about national body.

In the past we have always complied when they were doing the needful; I mean the right thing because we understood that for us to benefit at the bottom we needed to really work hand-in-hand with the national body.

But, I still want to tell you that before our emergence, ASUU national had never treated us well. The former executive members that were there at ASUU-LASU never respected members of the congress. The university veterans who ordinarily should have been respected and properly consulted before taking decisions were treated with disdain and never consulted on any issue. Some members of the university community were called unprintable names. So, lack of the rules and language of engagement, were some of the reasons members of the congress felt they would no longer follow the national ASUU.

And, I tell you that the reality on ground is that where a staff is no longer on the payroll of a university it will not be ideal for such staff to still represent that institution in external capacity because doing that will be illegal. I think ASUU national should be honest and be critical in terms of the way they are handling ASUU-LASU, because if not, they will lose out finally.

But, what of the issue of embargo placed on all LASU staff?

Well, on the issue of embargo on all LASU staff, is a direct attack on all academic staff of the university that they should not go out for academic engagements, and all other academics operating externally should not come to LASU. The congress of ASUU-LASU will speak on that very soon. Those issues will be tabled before the congress and I am sure that at the end of the congress we will be able to ventilate our views to the entire world regarding their position.

Source: NewsTelegraphng

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