Aggrieved staff unions and the rector of the Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH) have appeared before the visitation panel probing the affairs of the institution to defend their submissions.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the visitor to LASPOTECH on October 2019 constituted an 11-man visitation panel headed by Mr. Ibilowo Afolayan to proffer solutions to the protracted industrial crisis that engulfed the institution in the past two years and to also review other issues.
Many stakeholders and members of the public submitted memoranda to the visitation panel at the Public Service Staff Development Centre (PSSDC), which also serve as the venue of the sitting.
The workers appeared on Thursday to further expatiate on their submission at the sitting of the panel while the rector, Mr. Samuel Sogunro took his turn on Friday to defend the various allegations against him and also expatiate on other issues.
First to appear before the panel was the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU), followed by Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Polytechnic (SSANIP) and later the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP).
Some former chairmen and secretaries of ASUP LASPOTECH stormed the venue of the sitting to counter an earlier submission made by the union and informed members of the panel that ASUP currently does not have executives.
After a prolonged argument, the panel gave the academic staff one week to resolve their differences and present one submission. After the sitting the Secretary of the visitation panel, Jabitta Sunkanmi invited the current ASUP vice chairman and a former chairman for another round of discussion in an attempt to find solution to the division.
Defending their submissions before the panel, NASU and SSANIP dealt on the contentious CONTISS 15, a major cause of the two years old crisis between the workers and the management about the mode of implementation.
According to chairmen of NASU and SSANIP, rather than implement CONTISS 15 as approved by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), the Rector, Mr. Samuel Sogunro brandished an envelop that was not opened or shown to union leaders which he alleged was from the state government not to implement the board’s version.
The unions explained that when letters were distributed to workers, they were downgraded, adding ‘’ many staff at the end of the month went home with peanut. The unions wrote management demanding to see the memo from the state government and the rector rebuffed us.’’
Both said the failure of the rector to address their grievances, the workers resorted to prayers, protest, wrote series of letters to the state government and embarked on strike. The two leaders also recalled the arrest of 38 workers who were detained and charged to court for cultism.
The panel was also briefed of how some workers were arrested on a trumped-up charge of attempted murder against two JAMB staff. The unions put the 87 months arrears on CONTISS 15 at N2.7billion.
Chairman of the panel, Mr. Ibilowo Afolayan appreciated the interaction with NASU and SSANIP. He assured the non-academic staff that they will do justice to the issues raised and that if the need arises, the panel will invite the staff unions to clarify issues.
When it was the turn of ASUP to defend their memoranda, the academic staff present could not agree on who would speak on their behalf. But the vice-chairman of the union, Mr. Salami said those opposed to ASUP submission were no longer members of the union.
Salami said: ‘’I am surprised to see them here. Our exco was not impeached, we had issues. LASPOTECH management rather than stop individual check-off dues to ASUP, stopped remittance of check-up dues. We submitted a joint paper with NASU and SSANIP.
But the other group insisted that ASUP does not exist based on congress decision to suspend the exco while a former chairman tendered a court document which restrained the union from operating in LASPOTECH.
Again, the panel chairman, Mr. Afolayan asked the academic staff to go and reconcile themselves and gave them a week to do so, stating ‘’the panel wants a united input from ASUP.’’