We owe food vendors, LAUTECH lecturers lament
Workers of the Ladoke Akintola University, Ogbomoso, owned by Oyo and Osun states, are facing hard times due to unpaid salaries, FEMI MAKINDE and FEMI ATOYEBI report
This is not the best of times for the 25-year-old Ladoke Akintola University, Ogbomoso. While the workers – academic and non-academic – are lamenting the non-payment of the salaries, the ivory tower is also suffering from the dearth of capital projects.
Why does this ugly situation obtain in the university? The owners of the institution, Oyo and Osun State governments, the workers say, have not been fulfilling their financial obligations to the university in the last 13 months.
The LAUTECH Academic Staff Union of Universities Chairman, Dr. Oyebamiji Oyegoke, while confirming this, says workers of the school are suffering in silence and living at the mercy of the university’s Internally Generated Revenue. The development, he adds, has resulted in the non-payment of their salaries for some months now.
Adegoke notes, “The situation is pathetic and it is now beyond endurance. The school managed to pay us until May 2015 from its IGR after the two states that own the university stopped funding it. It puts a lot of pressure on the school management and its finances as it could not afford to close the school. The states stopped paying monthly subvention to the school 13 months ago. Logically, we have not received our salaries from the states in the last 13 months.
“Because of the position we find ourselves, an industrial action looks inevitable. The workers are suffering; many of us are indebted to food sellers. Many of us cannot even pay our children school fees. At the ASUU level, we come to the aid of the members whenever they approach us for financial assistance.”
For another member of staff of the school, Alhaji Lawal Ambali, the challenge occasioned by the non-payment of salaries has forced him to withdraw one of his children from school. According to Ambali, who works in the Maintenance Department of the university, his eldest son had to abandon his master’s programme when the wherewithal to finance the programme was not forthcoming.
Ambali adds, “I thought after his first degree, I would be relieved but after two years at home without a job, I encouraged him to start his master’s programme. My three other children are still in school and when I weighed the options based on my income, I had to ask him to stop the programme until I am buoyant enough to support him. I live in a rented apartment. Above all, I have a wife, who currently has a health challenge. She stopped her trade more than a year ago.
“Meanwhile, the school said it could no longer pay since the states had abandoned it. But some of us are still managing to go to work because without the maintenance department, the school will find it difficult to run its programmes.”
Even as lecturers and other workers complain of hard times, the Senior Staff Association of Universities in the school, has warned that its members will embark on strike by August 11 to pressure the authorities to attend to their needs.
The SSANU Chairman, Mr. Muraina Aleshinloye, says the leadership of Governors Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo) and Rauf Aregbesola (Osun) have abandoned the university.
Aleshinloye adds, “We are suffering and you can imagine what our members are passing through without the governments paying their salaries for over a year, precisely 14 months.
“Is this how we will continue to work and not be paid? We are hungry and that is the truth. We do not have other businesses. There seems to be no life in us any longer as people easily see deprivation written on our faces and, I tell you, you cannot give your best under this kind of situation.
“Besides, there is no capital project embarked on by the two governors in the university since 2011. But through the ingenuity of the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Niyi Gbadegesin, and the support of the university Governing Council, which has Prof. Wale Omole as the pro-chancellor, the school has been managing to pay workers’ salaries in the past 13 months with the IGR.
“Because of the nonchalant attitude of the two governors, our pensioners could not be paid while the payment of gratuity has been postponed indefinitely. The university is in comatose and anarchy is imminent.
“The union is battle-ready for the mother of all strikes. I, therefore, appeal to parents, guardians and other stakeholders in the university to call on the governors to do the needful. The union shall not respond to any call when the die is cast.”
The SSANU Public Relations Officer, Mr. Samson Alabi, also paints a pitiable picture of what workers are going through.
He says, “Our members are not happy. They have been denied their salaries and it is very difficult coping with this kind of situation. There is no one to run to for help. Many of our members cannot access loan from any bank and there is no money anywhere.
“We are waiting to see how the two states would react to the strike notice which our union issued last week. But, I can tell you, the position of the majority of the members is that we should declare an indefinite strike. We cannot continue to work without pay.”
For another lecturer, who craved anonymity, it appears the two governors are no longer interested in funding the university.
He declares, “The two governors are playing hide and seek over the issue. They have been defaulting and not keeping to their promise to fund the university. I think the two states are just waiting to see who will pull out first.
“But none of the two will make this announcement because there is a caveat in their law which states any of the states which pulls out of the joint ownership will forfeit 25 per cent of the asset before they will share the assets. This will not allow any of the governors to make the first move but it is obvious that they are not committed to funding the university any longer.”
Apart from their welfare, Oyegoke explains that the development has come to a halt in the university.
He states, “There is no development in the school. The authorities of the school are using the IGR that is for developmental programmes to cater to the welfare of workers. The basic capital projects in the school today are those facilitated by TETFUND and other intervention grants from sources.”
Efforts to get Aregbesola to react to the allegation of not funding the university were unsuccessful. The Director, Bureau of Communication and Strategy, Governor’s Office, Mr. Semiu Okanlawon, did not answer his telephone calls.
He also did not respond to the text message sent to him as at 8pm.
Source: The Punch
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