LASPOTECH – NON-RELEASE OF WHITE PAPER SIGN OF LAGOS STATE GOVERNMENT’S GROSS INEPTITUDE AND LACK OF CONCERN
NON-RELEASE OF WHITE PAPER ON THE SEVEN-MONTH CRISIS BETWEEN STAFF AND MANAGEMENT OF LASPOTECH AFTER OVER ONE YEAR SINCE THE VISITATION PANEL SUBMITTED ITS REPORT IS A SIGN OF GROSS INEPTITUDE AND LACK OF CONCERN FOR THE INTEREST OF WORKERS ON THE PART OF THE LAGOS STATE GOVERNMENT
ERC calls on the Governor Sanwo-olu-led Lagos State Government to release the White paper immediately and to also call his SAE, Mr. Tokunbo Wahab to order for insulting workers who demanded release of the white paper.
We also demand the unconditional recall of all members of staff illegally sacked by the Sogunro-led Management of LASPOTECH and halt to any victimization of students and staff.
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) considers the non-release of the white paper on the seven month crisis that rocked the Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH) in 2019 over one year after the panel submitted its report as a sign of ineptitude and lack of concern for the interest of workers on the part of the Lagos State Government.
We hereby call on the Governor Sanwoolu-led government of Lagos State to do the needful by releasing the White paper immediately. This is the only way to show that the panel and its widely advertised aim of trying to resolve the crisis that engulfed the institution is not a cleverly orchestrated ruse meant to just deceive the workers to sheathe their swords.
In the same vein, we condemn the statement credited to the Special Adviser on Education (SEA), Mr. Tokunbo Wahab wherein he insulted workers for simply demanding release of the white paper. According to the Sun Newspaper, the SAE said the following about LASPOTECH workers: “They are definitely not knowledgeable in the way things work at all. If they are, they won’t be spreading such ignorance with pride. Tell them, I said the government owns the school and we are not going to allow a repeat of what happened in the past. If they are not satisfied, they can leave.” (Front page, Sun newspaper, Tuesday 13 July 2021).
As far as we are concerned in the ERC, this kind of arrogant response from someone who is expected to advise the governor on educational matters is not only insulting and demeaning, it also lacks empathy for workers who have pinned their hope on this White Paper for the expected resolution of many of the pending issues concerning the 2019 crisis.
For instance, at least seven (7) members of staff cutting across the three staff unions who were ruthlessly and illegally sacked by the former despotic Rector, Mr. Samuel Oluyinka Sogunro, are yet to know their fate since 2019 when they were sacked as a result of the delay in the release of the white paper. These are: (1) MUINAT ABIMBOLA OGUNBAMBI-IBRAHIM, (2) SEMIU AKINLAWON FASASI, (3) YEMISI OMOWUNMI OLABISI, (4) ABISOLA Temitayo Afolabi, (5) Rasheedat Abudu (Mrs), (6) Badmus Mutiu and (7) Olorunseun Emmanuel. They were all sacked for their roles in the struggles of LASPOTECH staff. When they recently appealed to council for a review of their sack, they were simply told to wait for the white paper. This and more are the reasons why LASPOTECH workers earnestly await the White Paper and are angry about the delay.
Unfortunately, the SAE’s insulting response also sounds like a subtle threat to the workers that they could lose their jobs if they continue to demand that things are done right. This is very unfortunate. We want to put it on record that this kind of reckless statement will only further raise tension on the campus especially because it further lends credence to the accusation the workers have made in the past that the Lagos State government was actually in the know and supportive of all the corrupt, repressive and anti-worker policies of the immediate past despotic Rector, Mr. Samuel Oluyinka Sogunro whose reign of terror led to the illegal sack of at least 7 members of staff and the arrest and detention of nothing less than 48 others including leaders of ASUP, SSANIP and NASU. We hereby urge the Lagos State Governor, Sanwo-olu to call his SAE to order lest he once again stoke the smouldering ember of crisis on the campus.
In our opinion, that the SAE could even offer a defense against a request by members of staff for the release of a document which ought to have been released at least one year ago is shocking! Rather than the workers, it is Mr. Tokunbo Wahab who is not knowledgeable about the gravity of implication of the delay.
As the public would recall, the visitation panel in question headed by Mr. Ibilowo Afolayan was set up in July 2019 following a tumultuous crisis between members of staff organized under the auspices of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Polytechnics (SSANIP) and the Non Academic Staff Union (NASU) and the management on several issues some of which include workers welfare, policies and impunity of the institutions administration headed by the immediate past Rector, Mr. Samuel Oluyinka Sogunro. The panel submitted its report to the SAE in June 2020 and since then, nothing has been heard about it.
The implication of this delay is that workers who were illegally sacked have continued to suffer endlessly. This amongst others is what is driving tension and anger on campus and the only way to douse it is for the Lagos State government to release the White Paper and also commit to righting all the wrongs and injustice committed by the immediate past Sogunro administration including reversing, immediately and unconditionally, the illegal sack of the 7 members of staff.
Ogunjimi Isaac Ayobami
ERC Deputy National Coordinator
ERC National Mobilization Officer