Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), has said its members will always pitch their tent with universities whose managements are focused, result-driven, and underscore workers’ welfare.
The union’s outgoing National President, Comrade Samson Ugwoke, spoke at the opening of SSANU-LASU secretariat on the university premises.
Ugwoke praised LASU management for underscoring workers’ welfare and ensuring peace in a university that was once reputed for violence and industrial strikes.
All through his time as SSANU’s helmsman, Ugwoke recalled that, at no time did the union invite him to settle any industrial crisis with the management.
He said: “What we are witnessing here (LASU) is a turnaround in management. I’m happy what we are seeing today is a development that is unprecedented in the history of LASU. This is why as the chairman of JAC (Joint Action Committee comprising, SSANU, NASU, and NAAT), I told my members in LASU to support this management.”
Ugwoke also expressed appreciations to the Lagos State Government for its commitment towards funding the institution. He jokingly lampooned some oil-rich states which, he said, having raked in billions of naira from the Federation Account, diverted such money into establishing more universities, albeit, for political reasons, thereby making the existing one cash strapped.
Ugwoke, who equally lauded SSANU-LASU for being the first state university to have a secretariat, added that the 21st century unionism is now more of an intellectual warfare.
“Modern day activism is not about banging the table any longer. It’s a game of the brain where strike should be the last resort. I implore our members (in LASU) to continue to dialogue with management on other areas that still needed to be ironed out,” he said.
Ugwoke, who inaugurated the facility, said it would be one of his legacies.
Chairman of ASUU-LASU Comrade Saheed Oseni urged other university managements to take a cue from LASU, adding that the union’s experience under the present management showed that universities nationwide suffered leadership gaps.
“Our experience (under this administration) has shown that our problem in universities is leadership.
“In the past few years, LASU had had leaders that were vindictive. Today however, we have a management that is responsive and sensitive to members’ welfare.
“A leader must learn to carry his subjects along. If you don’t take us for granted, we will cooperate with you; but if you do, we won’t hesitate to go to war with you.”
He thanked the entire members for their trust and belief in the executive which saw to the completion of the project.
Oseni’s predecessor Comrade Funmilayo Sessi said the facility comprised crèche, two rooms as offices for executive members, 500-capacity event centre; as well as a 25–capacity restaurant with four toilets, among others.
She recalled how she initiated the project by approaching management for a parcel of land for a more befitting secretariat for the union. Having been granted the permission, Sessi said she deliberately chose a parcel of land close to the rear gate of the university so that once completed, the facility would serve both the university community and a members of the public.
Sessi admonished members not to abuse the facility as it is meant to generate more income to run the secretariat.
Sessi, who also doubled as the Lagos State Chairman, Nigerian Labour Congress, corrected the misconceptions that the union was siding with the management. She said SSANU members would not be a clog in the wheel of a working administration.
“It’s already an uninterrupted four years without a single crisis by any union on campus. Some people felt we should be making trouble. Why should we when we are not mad? We don’t want to do anything that will jeopardise the peace all of us enjoy in LASU.”
The Vice Chancellor, Prof Lanre Adigun Fagbohun, who was represented by his Deputy (Academics) Prof Olumuyiwa Noah, sought continuous engagement with the unions on campus for a more robust relationship.
Noah said management deserved some respect for being able to substantially address some of the workers’ grievances. He said the fact that certain demands were still outstanding was not an indication that management had gone to bed.
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