By Chinyere Nwachukwu
Lagos – The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), has called on the non teaching labour unions of universities not to harass or intimidate its members.
The National President of the union, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Lagos.
Ogunyemi was speaking against the backdrop of the recent protest embarked upon by the three non teaching labour unions of the University of Lagos, which resulted in the harassment of his members.
The striking unions comprises of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), the Non Academic Staff Union (NASU) and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT).
The NAN reports that the unions under the aegis of the Joint Actions Committee (JAC) are currently on what they had described as ‘total, comprehensive and indefinite’ strike.
Ogunyemi said that it had come to the notice of the union that some of his members were attacked and injured by members of the striking unions at the university of Lagos on Monday, while going about their duties lawfully to further press home their demands.
He warned that union would not take it lightly adding that already, a warning signal had been sent to their striking counterparts.
“We have asked the Vice Chancellors of our universities to tackle any such action and bring to book, all those involved in such violent conduct .
“They must be able to apprehend persons who want to truncate efforts of lecturers from discharging their duties lawfully.
“The Vice Chancellors are the chief security officers of these institutions and by that status, must be able to tell workers the limit of their activities within the confines of the university, at any given point in time
“No one is stopping them from prosecuting their struggle, as far as they are not preventing lawful activities of other workers particularly ASUU members.
“Hence, we will like to warn that the union, henceforth will not take it lightly if they should cause any further harm to any of our members whether in the university of Lagos or any other ones at that,” the ASUU boss said.
Meanwhile the Vice-Chancellor of the university of Lagos, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe in an interview, also told NAN that there was no stopping the institution in its quest to improve academic standards.
Ogundipe said that the university was re-positioning and re-branding the university, as well as moving forward in the area of academics, research and innovation.
“What happened on Monday, Jan. 8, when we resumed academic activities for the session, was really unfortunate as it was sad, that the striking non academic staff members could go to that extent.
“After that demonstration on campus on that said day, we had told them at a meeting with management that they did not need to destroy the structure nor get law abiding persons injured.
“I told them that there is need to maintain peace because the strike was national and not a local one,” Ogundipe said.
The vice chancellor said that it was unfortunate that the amount of money (earned allowance) given to the university of Lagos, (N23 million) was insufficient.
“We need to maintain peace on campus and we do not need to destroy the structure we have because of our needs.
We must remember that definitely these needs would be met and eventually when they are met, we may not have any structure to fall back on.
“We need to conduct our selves properly and maintain peace at all times. Our students have resumed, and I have been to all the faculties and discovered that lectures are ongoing, full blast.
“Other academic activities such as students’ registration is also in progress as already, one of the faculties have registered over 600 students.
“In the Faculty of Law, out of the 250 or thereabout admitted, over 60 per cent have been registered.
“So, in a nut shell, I will like to say we have sympathy for the striking workers but they must not resort to destroying structures that are on ground,” he said.
Ogundipe further pleaded with the striking workers to as much as possible go about the strike the way the national body had directed that it should go.
“Their national body directed that they should withdraw their services but did not direct that they should attack anybody,” he said.
NAN reports that the unions were protesting among other issues, the sharing formula of the N23 billion, given by the Federal Government to its universities as part of the earned allowances and arrears of workers.
The Federal government was said to have released the fund to ASUU to share among the staff cut across.
The amount is part of the N220 billion pledged by the Federal government to the universities as an integral part of resolutions reached to address the last strike.
However, the sharing formula did not go down well with the non teaching staff of the universities who called for fair sharing and as a result, they embarked on the current ongoing strike nationwide which took effect in December 2017.(NAN)