By Olasunkanmi Akoni
The Lagos State Government has described the Monday protest by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, and the Non- Academic Staff Union, NASU of the State University, LASU campus, Ojo as “cheap blackmail.”
The protesters have accused the state government of non-implementation of increment in salaries of workers as earlier promised over a year ago.
Reacting on behalf of the state government, the Special Adviser on Education. Tokunbo Wahab, said the protest was “uncalled for.”
According to Wahab, “LASU like other subvented Ministries, Departments Agencies, MDAs, collect the sum of N450,000,000.00(Four Hundred and Fifty Million Naira) monthly from the Lagos State Government as Subvention.
“The Government expects the institutions to also be responsible in the application of the funds and the staffing of the institutions.
“We must also remember that they have Internally Generated Revenue, IGR which they generate and not accountable to anyone on how same is expended.
“Aside the subvention , the government is also responsible for the infrastructural developments of the institutions and other ancillary things including payment for accreditation exercise for which the last one cost the government N450 million.
“The government has never promised has never promised the union salary increment at any time. This purely, blackmail.
“My appeal to the protesters is to have a rethink. Protest is not the right approach to solving this problems. The union should look inward by asking the management questions on finding and not heap the blame on the state government.
“The present administration led by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has been so benevolent to LASU enough since assumption of office and should be commended rather than being condemned.”
On phased resumption Wahab, a lawyer, stressed that compliance with COVID-19 safety rules is a vital prerequisite.
Speaking earlier on a Morning Show, webinar hosted by Arise TV, while discussing the topic, “The New Norm In Education And LASG Online Teaching Aids For Out-Of-School Students, the Special Adviser said that no student would be allowed into classrooms without the school administrators ensuring adequate safety measures after six months of lockdown.
According to Wahab, ” Reopening of schools will be in phases. On the 14th of September, Lagos State-owned tertiary institutions will reopen for the first time after six months of closure.
“We are going to start with final year students across our tertiary institutions. Then after their exams, those in their penultimate year can resume.”.
When asked about Lagos State government’s preparedness for resumptions in the tertiary institutions, Wahab said the government ably led by Sanwo-Olu and Incident Commander of COVID-19 Lagos, “is well prepared as every necessary preventive has been put in place to have the students back in school to continue their learning.”
“One of the many lessons we learnt as a government during the pandemic is to always plan for uncertainty. Thank God, Lagos State government did better than many other states in managing the pandemic in regards to education,” he said.
Wahab affirmed that, “Lagos State government is not owing any teacher even during Covid19 pandemic. But for private school teachers, it is definitely beyond State government capacity.”