By Dayo Adesulu
The Vice Chancellor, Lagos State University, Professor LateefÂ Hussain has broken silence to shed light on the ongoing union crises in LASU and why he was locked up by unionists for over seven hours in his office to accede to their demands.
He explained this on Monday in a press conference at his Ikeja residence as every contact before now to hear his side of the story proved abortive.
According to the embattled V C, the reasons for his persecution by SSANU and NASU is not unconnected with his stands on true federalism as to how a state university should be run, stressing that he does not believe in theÂ national strike of SSANU and NASU which consequently affect Lagos State University. â€œLagos State is the employer of Lagos State University Staff through the governing council and not the Federal Government.
Apart from the Niger Delta States, Lagos State pays higher wages to its workers he saidâ€ Therefore, SSANU and NASU strike is illegal because they did not inform their employer for dialogue before embarking on the strike, he added.
Continuing, â€œWho told you that the state government cannot even pay higher than the federal government if there is mutual understanding? In the United States of America where true federalism is being practice, each arm of the government does his own business, stressing that there cannot be one central agreement signed by the states.
No America President dictates to the state governor what to do in the state or a governor telling a Mayor in the city what to do. Citing the example of the California governor who receives higher salary than the president of the country.
It was California state who determined that.Â Adding that human beings are naturally federalist. The ASUU collective bargain of the past did not help matter. It is time for true federalism. You rule the affair of your home in the way you deem best. Federalism should be allow to prevail in this country. I came from the University of Ibadan where they often engage in sympathy strike. I told them that I do not have time for that.
On the issue of NASU-LASU imbroglio, the V C said the institution does not recognise two factions in a union, adding that competition into any vacancy is however allowed.
That is what they called victimization of NASU members. For the students who claimed they could not do their second semester registration online, the VC said,Â LASU online registration started 2006, but LASU students are not interested in registering online because it gives some of them access to deleteÂ courses previously registered for, adding that the usual practice was that at the expiration of eight months the porter will be short down for registration. According to the VC, about 85 per cent students have registered for the second semester, left with 15 per cent who have their various reasons for not registering online.
On why examination was conducted for LASU final year law students recently, the VC said it was the Dean of the faculty who used his initiative to look for an alternative place for the examinations because they are finalists and when he consulted with me, I gave my consent when IÂ realised that a lawyer who was called to the bar before his colleague is a senior in the profession.
â€œThe union leaders accused me of embezzlement of 15 per cent arrears increase in subvention that will enable LASU pay the 15 per cent increase from January to June 2009 whereas the said money was just paid on 10th August of this month.
The photocopy of the cheque is here for evidence, he said.â€Adding that the workers will get their 15 per cent arrears but not under this hot condition as silence at time could be more than golden
His words: â€œHere in LASU, I make sure that admission is no longer for sale, fake receipt is not obtainable as we run a cash less bursary which they are not happy with. LASU of the past has been money, money, money as students pay lecturers to get marks.
I make bold that I was not responsible for our students staying at home, it is the unions who refuse to go to work. If ASUU ends the strike, the students will do their exams.
Every post in LASU is being advertised so as to get the best hand and equal opportunity for all.
Having second class upper when you cannot speak correct English is useless. So we introduced examinations before promotion as being done at the Lagos State, but they said, they are not ready for it.
That was their problem with me. A post of a deputy registrar is a normal redeployment of a staff that should not course an uproar if I did.
On the issue of removal of 50 per cent educational rebate, I said, if they registered for the courses relevant to their job it will be sponsored by LASU but the courses outside their job, the House of Assembly grants 10 per cent and not 50 per cent.
The welfare of the staff is my concern. And that was the reason their welfare package are paid. After it was paid what other welfare do they need.â€