These are not the best of times for members of the Lagos state polytechnic community as the once very peaceful polytechnic of excellence has been embroiled in series of crisis between various staff unions and the polytechnic management.
The supposed citadel of learning has witnessed more controversies and strike actions in recent times, than it has ever witnessed in years. The crisis came to its peak on Wednesday, June 6th, 2017 when the staff union’s renewed strike action enter its second day, following the expiration of the three weeks ultimatum issued by the Polytechnic chapters of the joint staff union, comprising of the Academic Staff Union, ASUP, Non-Academic Staff Union, NASU, and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Polytechnics, SSANIP. The three staff unions had vowed to commence an indefinite strike action, if the polytechnic management refuse to pay the arrears of the COUNTIS 15 Migration scheme, which has been lingering for almost one year upon expiration of the 3-week deadline.
Pandemonium broke out when it was alleged that the polytechnic rector, Mr Samuel Sogunro invited men of the Nigerian Army into the campus to assault and brutalize innocent students and members of the striking unions who clustered around the campus in the early hours of the day.
Mr Adewunmi Olorunfemi, an academic staff and welfare secretary of ASUP, LASPOTECH chapter was particularly not too lucky as he was brutally injured on one of his hands when the union’s vehicle windshield was smashed by protesting students by, with injury. His wife, a nursing mother, who was in the house was also beaten up by the invading soldiers who chased some students into a nearby, Lambo Lasunwon street.
The striking union, ASUP stated its position and demands in a press statement, obtained by Ikorodu Oga Radio, as extracted below;
-‘The law establishing the Polytechnic is being constantly violated by not allowing the Governing Council of the Polytechnic to function effectively because of the obvious connivance between the Polytechnic administration and the officials of the Ministry.
We observed with dismay that the Polytechnic administration recently procured arms and ammunitions to the tune of over Ten million Naira and also hired within the institution “AWOL” (Absent Without Leave) Armed Soldiers numbering over fifty (50) and member of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) numbering over twenty (20) with charms and amulets, after the industrial unrest of October, 2016. We believe that the State Security is unaware of such development which to say the least, could lead to breakdown of law and order, loss of life and properties.
-The Union pleads that these “security forces” be withdrawn from the campuses immediately.
-We demand the immediate commencement of the payment of the arrears of CONTISS 15 migration. Kindly recall that the tripartite agreement signed by the Officers of the Ministry, Council, administration and the Staff Unions during the week of the last convocation ceremony due for implementation before the convocation award ceremony.
-The Polytechnic administration should make available practical consumables necessary for effective learning by the students. These students are made to pay Ten thousand Naira each per session for practical and, for EED all students pay Three thousand Naira each into an account they (administration) call third party account, compulsory payment of Five Thousand Naira by all students per session for ICT of which the requisite software are not deployed, only pirated software which is bad for the image of the Polytechnic.
-The union condemns the use of security operatives such as state CID and NS&CDC to harass and arrest union leaders
-Stoppage of payment of pension to Pensioners, since April 2016 is worrisome. It is the view of the union that the pension issue be speedily and specially addressed. Because, it is the union’s view that they all (pensioners) have paid their dues in the system. Furthermore, we have it on good authority that many of the elderly among them who had hoped to collect their entitlement by themselves are dying and many have become vegetables due depression. We suggest that a percentage of their monthly pension be paid to them to ease their burden pending the determination of their issue before the state government.
– Study Leave Bond: Members who are on three years study leave with pay were bonded for nine(9) years contrary to the maximum of five (5) years bond period as contained in the condition of service, and outright stagnation of promotion for the same period of their study.
-Inappropriate placement of promoted staff despite an agreement signed by the administration and the Union.
-TETFUND Denial: The Union is aware that TETFUND grants are not judiciously spent. Some ‘anointed’ staff are given such fund to attend international conferences but never did. Moreover, the disbursement of such money is based on favouritism and ‘man-know-man’ policy.
– Removal of 4% annuity on pensions bond and the late payment of bond to the PFA of retired colleagues should be addressed urgently.
– Non remittance of contributory pension scheme as and when due
The statement ends with assurance by ASUP leaders that the Union is still open to negotiation to ensure that industrial harmony is restored to the Polytechnic of Excellence and the academic calendar is not disrupted.