The step-aside directive to the ousted Vice-Chancellor of Ladoke Akinola University of Technology – Ogbomoso by Governor Seyi Makinde-led Oyo State government has been described as not only mischievous but also also a move to score political point. The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) says only responsive and responsible approach is to offset backlog of salaries the state government owes workers of the tertiary institution.
Reacting to the sacking of Prof. Michael Ologunde as the VC of LAUTECH, the Oyo State Chapter of the SPN in a statement signed by its State Secretary – Com. Ayodeji, called on Oyo State government to pay all backlog of owed salaries and allowances. The party urged the leadership of LAUTECH workers unions not to allow the integrity of the unions to be muddled into rivalry contest for domination between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
SPN emphasised that owing workers outstanding salaries of over half of a year is enough incitement for agitation. The party also noted that even if it was true that the ousted VC incited workers, sacking him does not resolve anything; neither does it change the fact that workers are being owed 7months salary.
The statement read in part:
The Socialist Part of Nigeria, SPN Oyo State Chapter rejects the ploy by the Engr Seyi Makinde-led government of the State to hide under a legitimate agitation by workers in Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, LAUTECH, Ogbomosho for the payment of their outstanding salary arrears as a basis for the sack of Prof. Michael Ologunde, the university Vice Chancellor. According to reports, Engr Seyi Makinde had already on Saturday, February 20, 2021 during a live radio programmee on Broadcasting Cooperation of Oyo State, BCOS, alleged that the Vice-Chancellor was the one who incited the workers of the institution to embark on the said agitation for the payment of their over 7 month outstanding salaries.
SPN founds this allegation to be denigrating and mischievous! It is denigrating because it portends the workers which include both the academic and non-academic staff of the university as a robots under the remote control of the Vice Chancellor. It is quite unfortunate that the PDP-led government in the state has failed to come to a realisation that owing its workers outstanding salaries of over half of a year is enough incitement for agitation. But even if it was true that the VC incited workers, sacking him does not resolve anything. Neither does it change the fact that workers are being owed 7months salary. This means, it is only a matter of time before the university is rocked by industrial crisis again.
Therefore, for us as a party, we think a more responsible approach is for the Oyo state government to pay all outstanding salary and allowances of workers in order to put an end to the real root of workers anger and agitation instead of chasing shadows or using the university to settle political scores.
It is also important to stress that the reported allegation levelled against the sacked Vice- chancellor and the attempt by the government to hide under same as a basis for the sack of the VC is mischievous. All workers of LAUTECH are organized under different trade union organizations, ASUU, SSANU, NASU, and NAAT recognized and established by law. Therefore, they have the democratic right to embark on strike including peaceful protest to protect and defend both their economic and democratic rights without any incitement from any individual. This must be after a democratic discussion is conducted among members of the respective unions.
Therefore, SPN affirms the rights of LAUTECH workers to embark on strike and protest to demand the payment of their outstanding salaries. It is our belief that the demand is implementable and achievable regardless of whatever expenses the government claimed to have incurred to secure independent ownership of the university. The traditional role of a union is to always seek to protect and advance the collective interest of its members. We call on the leadership of the unions in the university to ensure that at no time must the integrity of the unions be allowed to be muddled and dragged into the rivalry struggle for domination among sections of the thieving elites.
As far as we are concerned in the SPN, the removal of Prof. Michael Ologunde, who is an appointee of the APC-led Osun state government which co-owned LAUTECH with Oyo state until recently is a manifestation of the struggle for political domination between the PDP faction of the ruling elites and its APC counterpart. While we recognize the importance of defending the law and procedure that establishes and guides the university respectively, it is our belief that such must not be done at the expense of the independence of the unions from undue interference of any section of the ruling elites. Besides, we warn against any attempt to divide the University along indegeneship lines. We demand the protection for the rights of every worker and student regardless of whether they hail from Osun and Oyo state.
As earlier stressed only an independent union free from undue interference and influence of the ruling elites and their agent like the Vice-chancellors will always be able to ensure an adequate protection of the collective interest of the workers at all-time regardless of where they hail from.