Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

LAUTECH CRISIS: Reopening Without Commitment to Adequate Funding is a Recipe for Future Crisis!

LAUTECH CRISIS: Reopening Without Commitment to Adequate Funding is a Recipe for Future Crisis!

Workers and Students must be United in a Consistent Struggle for Adequate Funding and Respect to Democratic Rights

By Ogunjimi Isaac ERC Deputy National Coordinator

Not until Tuesday, February 21, 2017, when members of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomosho branch suspended their over 6 months industrial action was there any certainty as to when academic activities which had been grounded in the University for over seven months would be restored. This is despite the fact that Prof. Gbadegesin-led management of the university had reopened the university since Monday, January, 27, 2017 for commencement of academic activities.

It is important to state that the decision by Gbadegesin-led management to reopen the University was dictated by both Oyo and Osun State government who were obviously forced to do so following the Monday, January 9, 2017 mass protest organised under the platform called Save Education and Reopen LAUTECH Coalition SERAL-C which mobilised hundreds of students of LAUTECH to demand adequate funding and reopening of the University. The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) is one of the organisations within SERAL-C.

This protest which actually started with a well-co-ordinated press conference was no doubt marred with a lot of leadership shortcomings. Despite this, the January 9 protest was quite impactful in the sense that it was able to also force the Oyo state government to hold an emergency meeting with the leadership of the four workers unions in the university, even though the meeting failed to offer any way forward. The protest also forced the release of emergency fund of N5million from both Oyo and Osun State government out of over 20 months subvention amounting to about N7.5billion as well as immediate payment of two months salaries out of the 8 months’ salary arrears workers in the University were being owed.

Regardless all of these concessions, there was no record of any form of serious academic and administrative activities taking place in the university until Tuesday February 21, 2017 when ASUU eventually announced the decision to suspend its over seven month industrial action. But the question of how long this will last is not something that can be ascertained for now! This is because the ASUU’s decision to suspend the strike is without any concrete commitment from the state governments as to how the remaining outstanding salaries of the academic staffs will be paid let alone how to sustain prompt and regular payment of monthly salaries and release of monthly subvention necessary for the running of the university.

Without a concrete and documented agreement between the unions and the two state governments over some of these grey areas, particularly on the issue of proper funding, the resumption of academic activities will either be temporary or a recipe for more crises. It is in the light of this that the present circumstance that surrounds the reopening of LAUTECH makes the development to be far from hurrah!

This means that both students and workers in the university must still be willing to prepare and ready to collaborate in a united struggle to resist every attempt by both Oyo and Osun state government to abdicate their responsibility of proper funding of the University under whatever guise. Otherwise, the governments will be emboldened to commercialise the University through hike in fees amidst other attacks.

Already, the statement credited to the Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi; in the Premium Times of December 19, 2016 where he said that ‘there are universities that can operate without subvention’ is an indication that both the state governments are not interested in the funding of the university adequately.

Except the government plan to force the university management to shoulder the responsibility of funding the university through its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) is resisted through mass struggle and defeated, many students from working class home whose parents are either being owed salaries or being paid half-salaries will be deprived of the ability to afford tertiary education, thus drop out! This may lead to a sharp decline in the lecturers to students’ ratio possibly below the NUC prescription thus putting at risk the job of both the academic and non-academic staff of the university. The way forward for LAUTECH therefore is a joint struggle by workers and students until victory.