The management of Lagos State University (LASU) sacked leading members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, LASU branch (LASU-ASUU) on 12 September. These are: Anthony Dansu, branch secretary; Adeola Oyekan, branch assistant secretary; and Kemi Abodurin, branch treasurer. Their sack is part of the series of vicious attacks on workers and trade unions by the Lagos state government, especially in higher institutions owned by the state. And in LASU this is the second wave of such despicable sacking of executive members of the ASUU branch, based on fabricated allegations, in two years.
The Sunny Ajose-headed Joint Council and Senate Disciplinary Committee submitted its final report to the management recommending the dismissal of 5 members of ASUU on 7 September. And in less than a week the supposedly indicted unionists were all sacked!
The university management is merely trying to hide behind a fig leaf. The charge brought against these union activists boiled down to “unauthorized possession and use of official documents”. But what this actually means is that they acted as whistleblowers against corruption in this citadel of learning!
The disciplinary committee was constituted by the management which they exposed as being utterly corrupt. Thus, in a very crude manner the university and its contrived committee have chosen to ignore the message of fraud raised against its top officials including the Vice Chancellor, Mr Olanrewaju Fagbohun and the immediate past Registrar, Mr Akinwunmi Lewis. They have rather decided to crucify the messenger. A university is supposed to be a citadel of learning and promotion of truth. Unfortunately, institutions of learning under the AC/ACN/APC reign in Lagos State have been popular for falsification, frauds and attacks on students and workers.
LASU/ASUU in 2018, petitioned the governing council that the immediate past registrar of the university fraudulently backdated the professorial promotion of the vic-chancellor to 2008. The union attached documents to establish this claim among which were the document that contains the governing council’s resolution on Fagbohun’s promotion in 2014.
The truth is that Fagbohun is not qualified to be a professor going by the rules of LASU, and if that issue should be addressed his Vice-chancellorship will definitely be in question. By every fact available, Mr Olanrewaju Fagbohun’s professorial promotion which was done in 2014, but backdated to October 2008, was fraudulently done. Because the same Fagbohun received his doctorate degree (PHD) in Obafemi Awolowo University in November 2008.
The allegations against these workers and trade unionists are baseless and the sack which is politically motivated is an attempt to intimidate and weaken the vibrant unions that are determined to resist all anti-people policies and regime rallied against public education. We should recall that in 2017, after the sack of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of LASU-ASUU on trumped up charges the management immediately rolled out anti-workers conditions of service for the institution. The fact that similar treatment is being meted on ASUP/SSANIP/NASU of Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH) further testifies to the class struggle ongoing in the public education in Lagos State.
We know that these attacks against workers in the public tertiary institutions are attacks on forces opposed to the neoliberal agenda of the state government. More than five members of staff of LASPOTECH were illegally sacked, meanwhile the visitation panel that was set up by the Sanwolu-led state government is yet to present any serious recommendation to redress this injustice. Similarly, in Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education (AOCED) over 20 workers have been sacked.
We commend the militancy of LASU-ASUU and LASPOTECH workers in the face of tyranny and despite victimization by the bosses’ class. We stand in solidarity with them. We assure the workers of our undaunted support and solidarity till victory is achieved. We demand the unconditional reinstatement of the sacked workers including the previously sacked executives and members of staff.
It is obvious that the Fagbohun is not qualified to head a citadel of learning. It should be considered an aberration and violation of the principles of scholarship to have someone that is involved in fraud heading a university. There is a report that massive stealing is ongoing under the Fagbohun-led administration on a daily basis. To that end we demand his immediate removal from office and prosecution of those involved in the fraudulent activities.
This is both an attack on the workers and attack attack on public education in Lagos State. The government’s spending on public education still remains poor with huge amounts of such allocations ending up in the pockets of political marauders. For more than 20 years, there has not been any improvement in public education in Lagos State rather the situation is getting worse.
Basically, successive governments from 1999 have failed woefully on education in the state. They won’t stop at their ineptitude, rather they will make more conscious, reactionary efforts to ensure education is inaccessible and unaffordable for the children and wards of poor working-class people. It is in the light of this that we urge students across higher institutions of learning in the state to join with us in solidarity with the workers to fight against all neoliberal attacks on public education.
And we urge the NLC – State Council and ASUU to organise a day warning strike on the LASU Campus. This will send home the message to the university’s tyrannical management that they cannot keep getting away with oppression on top of corruption. History shows us that it is only through struggle and political action of the working and oppressed people that we can ensure victory!
by Lai BROWN