Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola on Tuesday gave an ultimatum to academic and non-academic staff of the state-owned university to resume and ensure restoration of normal academic activities on Friday.
The ultimatum was the outcome of the meeting of the State Executive Council, which also approved the appointment of a five-member visitation panel that would discuss with the various groups in the university and make appropriate recommendations to Fashola.
The ultimatum came just as over 500 students of the institution protested to the government house, insisting that Fashola, who is the visitor to the institution, had been slow in responding to the crisis in the institution, which culminated to its closure since July 16.
Speaking at a press briefing in Lagos , the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Opeyemi Bamidele, said failure to comply with the said directive would be treated as a breach of employment contract and contravention of applicable statutes.
He therefore appealed to LASU members of staff not to treat the ultimatum with levity, noting that on resumption, the newly constituted visitation panel would within four weeks meet with all parties to find solutions to various issues raised by the workers.
Bamidele said, “We had watched with concern the ongoing disputes at the Lagos State University as well as efforts of the school authorities and subsequent intervention by the Lagos State House of Assembly in attempt to amicably resolve this industrial action.
“Taking into cognisance the various issues raised by all parties, it is the position of this government that the situation should not have degenerated to the withdrawal of services by both the academic and non-academic staff of the institution in the name of industrial action.
“We are therefore calling on all members of staff of the university, both academic and non-academic, to report back to campus and return to their duty posts to ensure the restoration of normal academic activities not later than Friday, December 4, 2009.
“For the avoidance of doubt, failure to comply with this directive will be duly treated as a breach of employment contract and contravention of applicable statues with all the prescribed legal consequences.”
The commissioner explained that pursuant to section 23 (1) of the LASU Act 2004, the governor, as a Visitor to the university, had approved the appointment of a visitation panel.
The visitation panel is made up of Justice Oladeinde Silver (rtd), who will serve as Chairman, and members are Prof. Itse Sagay; Alhaja Lateefat Okunnu; Mrs. S Muri Okunola and Mr. Kaoli Olusanya.
He stressed that the reason for setting up the visitation panel was for the government to obtain first hand information on the various issues that led to the crisis and find solutions to them.
Bamidele was, however, silent on the call for the sacking of the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Lateef Hussein , by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Non-Academic Staff Union and students’ union of the school.
They had insisted that only the removal of the VC would end the ongoing labour dispute in the school.
According to the commissioner, there are laid procedures for the removal of any government officials, stressing that the visitation panel would address issues and make recommendations to the state government.
Meanwhile, the protesting students, led by the President of the LASU Students Union Government, Mr. Leke Bakare, said they worried that past comments made by Fashola and other prominent Lagosians on the resumption of the institution did not yield any positive result.
They wondered if the fresh ultimatum would be effective.
Displaying various placards with inscriptions such as “Stop playing politics with our future’ “Fashola, your attitude towards the situation in LASU is driving us into militancy,” among others, the students said their concern was not about the sacking of the VC, but the resumption of academic activities.