RESOLUTIONS OF THE LAGOS STATE EXECUTIVE COUNCIL ON THE REPORT OF THE AD HOC COMMITTEE ON LAGOS STATE UNIVERSITY
Following a meeting between His Excellency, the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN and representatives of the State University Students’ Union, the Union submitted an Open Letter, dated April 24, 2014, which detailed its complaints on fees payable by new students of the University. An ad hoc Committee was subsequently established by the State Executive Council to review the students’ submissions and make appropriate recommendations.
After extensive deliberations on the Report of the Ad Hoc Committee, the State Executive Council made the following observations and resolutions regarding the fees and recent actions embarked upon by staff and students of the University: Government remains fully committed to the development of the State University as a centre of academic excellence and will continue to deploy resources at its disposal towards the provision of a conducive learning environment with up-to-date facilities.
By virtue of the Lagos State University Law, the State Government is the promoter and owner of the institution, whilst the organs created by the Law are self-accounting and independent as far as the day to day management of the institution is concerned. Those internal structures must therefore be allowed and supported to play their
statutory roles, subject only to the interventionist or mediatory role of the State Governor in his capacity as Visitor of the University.
While Government recognises the right of individuals and groups to associate freely and protest, it notes with emphasis that these rights do not suspend the criminal laws. Neither can they justify actions that show disrespect for or trample upon the freedom and rights of other members of the society.
Deriving from the foregoing, damage to property, blockage of highways or other acts of public nuisance are punishable offences under the Criminal Law of Lagos State and cannot be justified or excused under the guise of public protests, otherwise society itself will be at risk of perpetual disturbance by sundry interest groups. Indeed, one of the primary responsibilities of Government is the maintenance of law and order and, in the public interest, Lagos State Government remains fully committed to this objective.
Government however commends the students for taking up the invitation to participate in the resolution of matters affecting their lives when they met with the Governor. Their response by way of detailed observations and suggestions has assisted Government in taking a second look at the issues in contention. This is a commendable approach that must be encouraged in resolving disputes within the university community.
In welcoming the students’ submissions, Government reiterates the fact that it is not inflexible or resistant to change where such is justifiable. Also, Government’s commitment to continued subsidy of university education is a deeply-ingrained policy adopted to ensure that no willing and able student is left behind.
In this regard, Government wishes to reiterate its commitment to free education up to secondary school level (including payment of WAEC fees) and a generous subsidy of Tertiary Education in the State. In LASU, the budget for recurrent and capital expenditure of about N10 billion for 2014 is partially funded from fees amounting only to about 10%, while Government provides the remaining 90% in addition to further subsidisation of fees by the provision of scholarships, bursaries and research grants.
Despite the foregoing, the Ad Hoc Committee has recommended and Government has accepted that the fees and charges payable by students for incidental services and materials are amenable to a downward review for two main reasons: some of the fee components have been applied to students across all levels when in fact they can be justifiably limited to students at a particular level only; some of the charges included can still be reduced on compassionate grounds.
On the basis of these principles, Government agrees that with the subsidised tuition fees and appropriate moderation of the incidental fees, a reduction ranging from 34% to 60% is possible across the different faculties and courses.
Government has therefore approved the reductions and, in accordance with the Law setting up the University, forwarded its approval to the University Governing Council for consideration and implementation.
Pursuant to its statutory mandate, the University Governing Council will issue details of what is now payable by students in each Department and deal with all other management matters of the University. All individuals and groups within the community are advised to relate to the University Council accordingly.
Notwithstanding the approval of reduced fees for students in the State University, Government will retain and continue with its enhanced scholarship and bursary provisions. The Research Fund sponsored by Government will also be maintained to foster a culture of research and innovation in the University.
Moreover, Government will continue its increased spending on infrastructure and physical development of the campus, which has already begun to enhance the stature of the State University as a leading institution of higher learning in Nigeria.
Government hopes that with the resolution of the fees issue, Staff Unions at the Lagos State University will immediately call off their strike and ensure the resumption of normal academic activities.
As earlier clarified by Government officials, the retirement age of employees, including Professors in the University, cannot be unilaterally extended by the employees themselves, unless the employer were to cede total control of the institution to employees, which is an impossible situation.
Regarding the Vice Chancellor’s tenure of office, Government also considers it a State prerogative exercisable by Law pursuant to the concurrent legislative power of the State Government to establish Universities and make statutory provisions for their management, and not that of its employees or proprietors of other Universities.
Government will retain the option of a second term for Vice Chancellors in order to benefit from good leadership whenever the occasion arises.
In the same vein, employees cannot unilaterally insist on being appointed or promoted to positions that are not vacant, especially where there are over two hundred vacant positions yet to be filled in the same institution. The calibration of staff across the faculties has obvious academic planning, policy, and financial implications,
which the employer had considered carefully in deciding to decline the lecturers’ demand for appointments and promotions to positions already filled.
In conclusion, it is hoped that all students and workers of the University will immediately resume their respective activities and join with the State Government in its bid to bring LASU to a preeminent position.
OTUNBA FATAI OLUKOGA
SPECIAL ADVISER ON EDUCATION
TO HIS EXCELLENCY , THE GOVERNOR