The Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Universities, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, Dr. Biodun Olaniran, tells FEMI MAKINDE that the union is not against probing LAUTECH’s account
LAUTECH was on strike for the better part of 2016 and the same thing is happening this year. What is the reason for this?
The main cause of incessant strikes of the unions in LAUTECH, and especially ASUU, is the chronic under-funding of the university. That is where the problem started from. The funding pattern of the university is not sustainable and that has led to a series of crises on campus. We are owed many months’ salary.
How many months’ salary are you owed?
We are owed 10 months’ salary. No part payment, no half salary. We have not collected a dime for the past 10 months. I want to believe that our members have been surviving through the grace of God.
Chief Wole Olanipekun’s visitation panel recommended, among other things, the audit of the university’s account. Why did your members chase the KPMG officials away?
The Olanipekun panel recommended the audit of the university but that is not the only thing they recommended. For us as a union, we don’t have any problem with the KPMG auditing the account of the institution. We are known for transparency and accountability, so they can audit the university. But what we are saying is, why take that particular recommendation alone? Why can’t they look into other recommendations? Because one of the recommendations of Olanipekun’s panel is to let activities resume on the campus before they can do every other thing? For activities to resume in the university, the panel recommended that they should release N1.7bn immediately. That was how the panel put it and it is on page 89 of the panel’s report. But the governors and their spokespersons are saying some people went ahead to chase away some people. ASUU members were not on campus when officials of the audit firm went to LAUTECH. We have already embarked on an indefinite strike. I am not aware if anybody was chased out, but certainly not by our members.
It was also alleged that the workers’ union of the university went to court to file a suit to stop the owner-states from auditing their accounts. Is ASUU part of the suit?
That is why we are saying governments of Oyo and Osun states, especially the governors, are not sincere in their move to resolve the crisis in LAUTECH. How could they say that the workers’ unions filed a lawsuit against them (the two states)? Why are they saying that the unions went to court to stop the planned audit of the university’s accounts? I believe they have the copies of the papers filed in court; they should have come into the open to say which unions approached the court. We have four unions on campus. We have ASUU, the Non-Academic Staff Unions of Universities, the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities and the National Association of Academic Technologists. They should be specific about the unions because ASUU is not against the audit. We are not part of the unions they are talking about.
However, I think some people believe that they have the right to seek redress in the court. I think people are free to go to court and individual organisations can go to court to have some interpretations from the court of law. I also want to believe that the Olanipekun panel’s report clearly spelt out that the only body that the law allowed to appoint an external auditor to check the books of the university is the governing council. Maybe that is one of the areas which the other unions are looking at. Neither the governors nor their governments can appoint external auditors and that is why Olanipekun recommended that the way they can do it is that if you are the ones that appointed the chairman and members of the governing council, then the governing council can appoint an external auditor. At least, the states appointed those in the governing council and those there are all ththere