THE Owerri zone of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) said yesterday that developments in Kogi State University and Lagos State University, LASU, were assuming dangerous dimension, urging the visitors to the two institutions to take necessary actions before it was too late.
Coordinator of ASUU in the zone, Professor Ike Odumegwu, who read the zone’s position on the matter, referred to issues relating to alleged humiliation, unwarranted termination of appointments, the use of students to threaten the life of ASUU members and destruction of their property in Kogi State University, as well as the alleged sack of some of ASUU members in LASU and persistent use of security agencies to arrest and intimidate them.
According to him, the developments were clear indications of the deplorable state of affairs and total mismanagement of the state-owned universities by the administrators and Visitors to the two universities.
Going down memory lane, Odumegwu said: “The crisis in Kogi State University has been a recurring incident due to inadequate funding and erosion of university autonomy and academic standards by the state government.
“In July 2017, the Visitor to Kogi State University (KSU), Anyigba, Governor Yahaya Bello announced the proscription of all ASUU activities in the university. This was followed with the sacking of over 150 academic staff of the university who were on a lawful struggle to press for the payment of the backlog of their salary running into several months.
“These lawless actions are clear manifestations of arrogance and a very high level of ignorance on the side of Governor Bello vis-a-vis the limits of his power as the state governor and failure of appreciation of the essence of a university.
“This arrogant display of power and abuse of office by the governor speaks volume about the extent to which some political office holders could go to crush perceived opposition in their bid to emasculate and enslave Nigerians so as to fulfill their ambition towards destroying the public education system.
“After the sack of the over 150 seasoned lecturers, Bello resorted to the recruitment of unqualified individuals such as laboratory attendants, members of the National Youth Service Corps, NCE holders and even undergraduate students to replace them.
“These actions of the governor amount to gross violation of International Labour Law, the Constitution of Nigeria and all known best practices in the university system.
“It is pertinent to note that the crisis that culminated in this avoidable situation began with the gross insensitivity, greed, impunity and lawlessness of the Vice Chancellor Prof. Abdulkadir Mohammed Sanni and the Governing Council of the university.”
Odumegwu also observed that in the recent history of university education in Nigeria, LASU had been in the news for all the wrong reasons, adding that in the course of ASUU struggles for just and equitable society, ASUU members had been subjected several times to various forms of victimization in LASU.
He said that instead of addressing weighty issues in the university, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Adigun Fagbohun resorted to intimidation, harassment and subsequent sack of the branch top officials of ASUU, even as he had continued to harass, intimidate and witch-hunt other members of the union with a view to decimating the union in LASU.