UNILAG VC appeals to protesting unions to embrace peace

The Vice-Chancellor, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, on Friday pleaded with striking workers in the institution to embrace peace, as appropriate authorities were addressing their agitation.

The workers, under the aegis of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the institution, had embarked on a peaceful protest on campus, demanding the release of two of their members that were arrested by the Police on February 15.

Addressing the protesting workers, Ogundipe said he did not have a hand in the arrest.

He described as unfortunate, instances where some persons were already indicting him as being solely responsible for the arrest.

“Since the beginning of this strike, I have not had course to stop you from prosecuting your struggle.

“It is your right to demand what rightfully is yours.

“But at the same time, let us not destroy the structure, because this strike will come and go.

“If we destroy the structure at this time of the strike, then when we come out of it, there will be no structure to fall back on.

“The strike is a national one and not a local one, so it also behoves on us to think globally and act locally.

“This will be for the benefit of all,’’ the VC said.

In their response, the union leadership assured the vice-chancellor of their support for his administration.

They said the struggle had nothing to do with him or his management team.

Mr Sulaiman Lawal, Chairman of the National Association of Academic Technologists ( NAATs ), called for a better working relationship between members and management.

He described as unfortunate, the various incidents that had been happening on the campus while the strike was on.

“We are not happy about recent happenings on campus.

“We need to tell ourselves the truth; many things have been unfolding and we are not happy with that,’’ Lawal said.

Mr Kehinde Ajibade, Chairman of the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) of the institution, urged the Police to stop intimidating its members, as they were always carrying out their protest peacefully.

According to Ajibade, members, though striking, are also mindful of the need to maintain law and order.

“We are part of the system and we do not think we will want to do anything that will collapse it totally.

“On the arrest of the members, we strongly believe that our vice-chancellor is not behind it.

“When we contacted some key members of our unions, they all affirmed that the vice-chancellor is innocent about the arrest.”

According to him, there is the need for peaceful coexistence in an effort to take the university to its desired height.

He emphasised the need for constant dialogue between members and management, for a healthier working relationship.

The unions, on Dec. 4, 2017, embarked on an indefinite strike.

They are protesting non-implementation of the agreement they entered into with the Federal Government in 2009.

The unions are also protesting the sharing formula of the N23 billion released by the Federal Government as part of the earned allowance for workers of Federal universities.

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