The ongoing crisis between the management of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) and its non-academic staff unions won’t end anytime soon. This means more hardship for the students and continuous disruption of the institution’s academic calendar.
Crisis are bound to happen in societies filled with humans, however, what distinguishes an ongoing crisis from a quickly resolved misunderstanding is the method or approach employed to engage the crisis, and an understanding of the motivations of all parties involved and finding a compromise that works for everyone. The crisis at UNILAG has remained unresolved because the university’s authority and the Federal government have refused to properly engage this very old problem.
The crisis of confidence between the unions and the management is disappointing and has been addressed in earlier publications on this blog, however, the illegal arrest and detention of some leaders of this non-academic unions by the police is a wrong approach to solve the crisis.
According to news report, the duo of Oriwaye Adefolalu and Adekola Adetomiwa, leaders of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) in the university were arrested in the wee hours of Thursday, February 15, 2018, at their separate residences in Ikorodu and Yaba.
Efforts by their lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) to secure their release from Police custody was unfruitful as the police declined their release based on “orders from above”. Another twist was added to the scenario on Friday, February 16, 2018, as they were transferred from Police detention to the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS).
The unions have accused the Vice Chancellor of UNILAG, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe of being responsible for the arrest of the Union leaders, an accusation Ogundipe has denied. However, denying the accusation is not enough, Ogundipe being a new man in office has set the stage of uneasy governance for himself as he cannot run the institution without these union members.
UNILAG has always been an institution with virile unionism and that cannot be suppressed by any Vice chancellor. The arrest of the Union leaders is unjust and uncalled for as its a direct call for anarchy in that institution. The management of UNILAG and the school governing council is advised to tow the path of reason by securing the release of the detained union leaders and forging an harmonious relationship with them.
With that not in place, Ogundipe has prepared himself for a stormy tenure ahead.