Scores of lecturers and Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU), of the Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH), Thursday besieged the State House of Assembly to protest 87 months of unpaid arrears and other grievances.
They also demanded the removal of the Rector of the institution, Mr. Samuel Sogunro, whom they alleged was behind the crisis plaguing the institution in recent time.
The protesters, while noting that the State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode has been doing a lot to reposition the institution, including increasing subvention for the school, lamented that the management of the institution were discrediting the governor’s effort to improve the fortunes of the school.
The protesters carried placards, some of which read: “Militarisation and infiltration of arms on campus by the management,” “Reversal of the removal of 4% pension and annuity,” “TETFUND: Denial of scholarship conference/books publishing and research grant to staff members,” among others.
Speaking on behalf of the protesters, the Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic (ASUP), LASPOTECH branch, Mr. Akinrinlola Ibitoye said the indefinite industrial action being embarked upon by the lecturers and others was as a result of the rector’s misadministration and insensitivity to the issues that affect the welfare of staff in the polytechnic community.
“We would like to place on record that the on-going industrial action is avoidable. It is as a result of the administration of the polytechnic reneging on the previous tripartite agreement reached on March 7, 2017 by the administration, Council, officials of Ministry of Education and the Staff Unions of the Polytechnic, to commence on the payment of CONTISS 15 migration arrears before the 25th convocation ceremony of the Polytechnic held on March 9, 2017.
“The Unions further reached an agreement with the Council on 25th May, 2017, giving 21 days window for the payment of CONTISS 15 Migration arrears and the resolution of other issues of which the polytechnic administration and the Governing Council reneged upon.
“Furthermore, at the congress held on April 20, 2017, the Deputy Rector(Academic) who represented the Rector at the meeting, said that the administration had saved N343,000,000 only as at April, 2017 and are only waiting for the approval of the government to commence implementation.’ This amount could pay 16 months arrears at the first instance,” he said.
Ibitoye added that the union was, however, aware that the approval of the Council was enough for the payment of the arrears since it could be paid from the funds within the coffers of the Polytechnic, lamenting that the union was at a loss on why the officials of the Ministry who were party to the tripartite agreement on March 7, 2017 were now singing a different tune..
He added that the staff wanted the security forces within the campus to be withdrawn from immediately, adding that on Wednesday, the union was set aback by the move made by the polytechnic management led Sogunro to incite student against the staff unions, “the effect we considered as barbaric and undemocratic.
“An executive member of the Union- Comr. Adewunmi Alfred Olorunfemi was badly injured, his wife beaten to stupor by Sogunro’s soldiers and the union bus was vandalised.”
“We demand the immediate commencement of the payment of the arrears of CONTISS 15 migration. We demand the immediate payments of 16 months arrears based on the availability of N343 million only from the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the Polytechnic as announced by the Rector and corroborated by the Deputy Rector (Acad.) While the outstanding of 71 months will be paid within a maximum period of two (2) years,” he added.
Responding to the protesters, Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, condemned the military attack on the workers and assured the protesters that the House would commence investigation into the allegations against the institution.
“Our institution is not meant for military. Tertiary institutions in Lagos are expected to be manned by security personnel and not officers of the Nigerian army. And we expect that whenever there is any crisis, the police is in the best position to address it not soldiers. We will work swiftly on the issue to ensure that the crisis rocking LASPOTECH is quickly resolved,” Obasa added.
He warned that anyone that must lead any institution within the state must abide by the rules of engagement.
He however urged the protesters to continue to resort to peaceful demonstration and refrain from any act that could lead to violence.