Govt, students bicker over LASU’s continued closure
The crisis rocking the Lagos State University (LASU), assumed a new twist Tuesday as government and student bickered over the indefinite closure of the institution.
While students and lecturers blamed the government and management for closure, the government said, “The unions and students were overbearing and would not want the school reopened.”
It would be recalled that the school’s main campus in the Ojo area of Lagos, was on March 16 closed, in what authorities described as “election recess.” This was ahead of the 2015 general elections. Three weeks after the elections were concluded, students of the school took to the streets protesting the continued closure.
President of the Student Union Government (SUG), Wasiu Adeyemi, speaking at Alausa, Ikeja last week said they could no longer understand why the school remained closed or when it would reopen.
According to Adeyemi, “Immediately the government announced election recess, I had written a letter rejecting the recess that didn’t stipulate when we are to resume. That is exactly what is happening now. When the elections were over, we expected that they would allow the student to come back to school since there was no crisis.”
Continuing, he said: “If the government or management gives us other reasons (for the continued closure), we would tag along with them, but to remain mute is unacceptable. We want to learn and we must go back to school,” Adeyemi said.
However, the state government is accusing the unions and students of trying to subvert guiding rules and making overbearing demands on the management.
Special Adviser to the governor on education, Fatai Olukoga, (under whose purview lies all tertiary institutions in the state), while responding to questions at the 2015 ministerial press briefing, said there was a crisis when fellow workers dictate to their employer whom to sack stressing, “Yes, the crisis is that, you cannot dictate to your employer to sack anybody.
“When they (unions) came that they don’t want the vice chancellor, we said, look, it is wrong for you to say that we should send the vice chancellor packing because in the event that you are having your convocation ceremony or anything in the school, we must appoint an acting vice chancellor.
“Imagine if you run a company by yourself and somebody you employed, wakes up one day and says you should sack the managing director. I think we have to have a rethink.
“The problem of LASU is just the overbearing nature of the unions, both the lecturers, the management and the students. They really need to be talked to. I can’t see a reason why a student will fight because there is no light. Do they have light in their homes? They don’t. And the government will only try to provide what it can provide. Let’s be realistic with ourselves,” he said.
Olukoga, who claimed that the students were aggrieved because of the outstanding school fees refunds, informed that the state government had paid the first tranche of the money, which amounted to N209m.
He said the “inability of the management of LASU to keep data,” saw them coming back to say that 607 more students were yet to get their refund.
“I called the students and told them that their money was being processed and that they should, allow the management to re-open the school. The next thing, they carried placard and came to Alausa and said that unless their money is paid, the school will not be re-opened.
“So the delay in re-opening the school is the fault of LASU workers and students union. They have to go back and have a sense of reasoning before the school will be reopened.”
On why the university withdrew some doctorate degree certificates from their recipients recently, Olukoga explained that the 19 lecturers were found to have obtained fake PhD certificates from LASU in the last five years.
He insisted that the matter was purely an academic issue and not one for the special adviser or the governor to resolve because “they have to resolve it themselves.
“As I speak to you, 17 have been cleared. The only two remaining are because one is a chairman of union, who refused to come for clearance, and he said his certificate is with Femi Falana. We are waiting for Falana to go and sue LASU and see whether it will come through. Regulatory bodies have to go through a lot of processes that have been set up, its not that you just go there and say what you want.