The zonal coordinator of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, University of Lagos branch, Prof Adelaja Odukoya, has said that lecturers serving as presiding officers during elections are not representing the union.
He noted that the union should not be held responsible for the outcomes of elections in Nigeria because some of its members serve as electoral officers.
The professor of political science at UNILAG, who spoke in an interview with our correspondent on Friday in Lagos, lamented that Nigerians often linked ASUU members to irregularities that occur during elections.
According to him, ASUU never nominated not recommended anybody to participate in the elections and whatever any member did was of their free will.
Odukoya said, “It is part of the agenda of the government and its apologists to give the dog a bad name in order to hang it. In every society, we have bad eggs and the university system is no exception. But again, before you can say somebody represents a union or he signifies what the union represents, that person must be on that platform as a nominee.
“Not all of them are members of ASUU, but even when they are, they are at every point in time in a dual capacity as individuals and as members of ASUU.”
Academics, particularly lecturers, often serve as returning officers during elections.
But Odukoya said when academics took part in election functions, they were not there on the platform of ASUU.
“We took part in the 2011 elections based on a special invitation by Attahiru Jega (a former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission), who happened to be a former president of ASUU. When we wrote our report, we made it clear that election rigging actually starts not even at the level where you get us involved, or at the collation centre. It starts below,” the don added.
He said for ASUU to take full responsibility, “let’s nominate people from the ward level, then you can say it is ASUU members.”
The ASUU zonal coordinator while speaking earlier at a programme organised by Corporate Accountability & Public Participation Africa, in the Ogba area of Ikeja, Lagos, also condemned the student loan policy of the President Bola Tinubu-led administration.
Adelaja during the programme themed ‘Will Student Loans Improve Access to Education,’ said the student loan was an attempt to take education away from the public.
He said, “The title (of the loan) is ‘act them away from education.’
“Let’s put the issues where it is, it is failure of governance. It is to exclude, it is to criminalise education and to make it elitist,” Odukoya said.