By Kenneth Ehigiator & Oamen AREGUAMEN
Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State said yesterday that unions at the state university (LASU) cannot instigate the state government into sacking the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Hussain Lateef, as there was an agreement between both parties which no third party could enforce.
Fashola spoke against the backdrop ofÂ the resolve of the striking workers of the university to defy the governmentâ€™s ultimatum to them to resume work, despite his entreaty to them to go back to work.
The unions, comprising the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and Allied Institutions (NASU) and National Association of Academic Technologies (NAAT) had vowed not to return to work until the government sacked the Vice Chancellor.
But speaking in an interview at the Presidential Wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, yesterday, Governor Fashola said the state government could not at the behest of one employee (workers) sack another employee (VC).
He said: â€œThere are appropriate channels for communication between employees and an employer of an institution that belong to a state and I think they must understand that their relationship with us is governed by the terms of employment and the laws regulating it.
â€œIn the same manner, our relationship with the VC is governed by an agreement and the law. Our responsibility is to respect the terms of an employment.
â€œWe cannot, at the behest of one employee, remove another employee, in the same way that we owe a duty to protect them if the employee that we assign to head the place acts in a way that is wrong. We must understand.
â€œWe have provided what I believe is a useful platform for engagement and saying look, go back to work, there are other stakeholders in that sector, you are one stakeholder, the students are another set of stakeholders, their parents and guardians are another set of stakeholders who are anxious and concerned.
â€œThe nation is there, it is a stakeholder and it wants to ensure that you produce the human resource that would continue to drive this country and the progress of this country, so you cannot hold everybody to ransom, and say that until we remove an employee like you, you will not work.â€
The governor urged the striking workers to lay whatever complaint they might have at the legislative panel set up by the government to resolve the impasse between the workers and university management.
Fashola, who restated his appeal to the workers to return to work, so students could return to the classroom, wondered why the workers were bent on pulling down the university, which is the source of their livelihood.
â€œNow, if we disagree, does that mean we will pull down the house? It is this same house that we expect to earn an income we use to support our family.
â€œSo I restate my stand and appeal to them to go back to work, and I believe that if there is an opponent of mine as I always say, there is nothing that cannot be resolved via negotiation,â€ said Fashola.