The vice-chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, has ordered that the proposed physical emergency congress meeting of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), UNILAG chapter and others be suspended as a measure to avoid the spread of coronavirus.
The vice-chancellor was responding to the union’s earlier call for the meeting scheduled to hold on Wednesday at the foyer of the university’s council chamber, the same venue of a postponed university’s council meeting earlier fixed for the same time.
Meanwhile, apparently as an opposition to the ASUU congress, another group of workers in the university under the umbrella of UNILAG non-teaching staff, had scheduled its meeting for the same time and venue.
But in its letter to the workers’ unions on the campus, the vice-chancellor warned against gatherings that could violate the social distancing rules amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
The vice-chancellor’s memo, which is signed by the acting director in the VC’s office, Ademola Aliu, is entitled; “Meeting of Unions at the University Campus Amidst the Covid-19 Pandemic.”
The memo, which was dated, July 13, reads in part; “Please recall that since the outbreak of coronavirus, the university has suspended all academic activities and placed restrictions on gatherings on campus to ensure the community is safe and secured. This is in line with the health advisories and guidelines issued by both the Lagos State Covid-19 response team and the presidential taskforce on covid-19.
“…Consequent upon this, the vice-chancellor has directed that I informed all the unions that no meeting should hold at the council chamber foyer under any disguise.”
The memo also advised the unions and all other members of the university community to note the “strict compliance with COVID-19 protocols of social distancing and wearing of masks in the university to prevent outbreak of the deadly coronavirus on our campus.”
Meanwhile, ASUU told PREMIUM TIMES that its various leadership structures are already reviewing the management’s memo, and that its final decision will be communicated appropriately soon.
“We acknowledge the vice-chancellor’s memo and our layers of leadership are currently reviewing the situation. We are not oblivious of the pandemic and the danger it poses but we will communicate the union’s position appropriately soon,” Mr Ashiru told our reporter on the phone.
In a similar development, a Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the Non Academic Staff Union (NASU) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), has reacted to the management’s directive.
The JAC’s statement, which was addressed to the two unions’ members on the campus, was signed by their chairmen on both the main campus and its college of medicine located in Idi-Araba.
The signatories are Kehinde Ajibade and Olushola Showunmi for the Akoka campus of NASU and SSANU respectively while those identified simply as T.S Aderibigbe and M.K Olofindiran respectively represented NASU and SSANU of the college of medicine.
The JAC condemned the notice issued to its members.
“We, therefore, condemn such notice of meeting in totality. Our members are requested to disregard such illegal notice of meeting which has been circulated to members on social media platforms,” the response reads in part.
They also appealed to ASUU leadership on campus to ensure a peaceful atmosphere in and around the campus, so that the council can meet to address the workers’ welfare.
Meanwhile, the organisers of the meeting of the non-teaching staff could not be reached for comment as the notice of the meeting was not signed by anyone.