This is certainly not the best of time for seven Cooperative Societies in Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, as the university management has failed to remit over N420, 567 million deducted from staff salaries.
The non remittance of deducted cooperative dues have seriously affected the operations of the seven cooperative societies as they cannot meet members welfare needs such as request for loans, medical expenses, housing rent and other benefits.
Investigations by The Education Report however revealed that individual members may not be aware of the development but the four staff unions as well as the executives of the cooperative societies who are aware have kept sealed lips. Members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Non Academic staff Union (NASU) and National Association of Academic of Technologists (NAAT) make up contributors to the seven cooperative societies in Ojo Campus.
Investigations further revealed that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the seven cooperative societies in Ojo Campus couldn’t meet its obligations to members because of the non remittance of deductions by LASU management which affected their borrowing powers.
Chairman of ASUU –LASU, Dr. Ibrahim Bakare and SSANU-LASU, Mr. Saheed Oseni, expressed different views on the non remittance. While Bakare acknowledged the situation and efforts to get the state government to increase the university subvention, Oseni insisted that LASU management has been remitting deducted cooperative dues to the societies despite the shortfall in government subvention.
In a memo on the issue to LASU VC, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives said the university management failed to remit N420, 567,856.44 to the seven cooperatives in Ojo campus as at September 2020.
The memo dated October 5, 2020, signed by the Director of Cooperatives, Mrs. Z.O Ibraheem and titled: “NO remittance of Cooperative Societies monthly deductions” said during routine inspection exercise by officers at the Ojo Cooperative Area Office, it was observed that the university owed the seven cooperative societies N420, 567 million.
“The reality is that this huge management debt has crippled the activities of these cooperatives and is a situation that should ideally not occur since these deductions are made from salaries paid to staff of the university.
“The ministry is therefore appealing to you to kindly use your good office to facilitate the prompt remittance of the deductions without further delay. This will help restore faith and confidence in the cooperatives while also helping to cater to the welfare of their members with a resultant increase in productivity”.
A breakdown of the amounts owed the seven LASU cooperative societies as at last month are ANUPA (Ojo) CMS, N19,021,990.75, Glorious (Ojo) CMS, N85,846,691.76, Progressive SSANU (Ojo) CMS, N77, 460, 852.20, First General CMS N27,276,758.49. ASUU (Ojo) CMS N139, 336,726.37, Al-Halal (Ojo) CMS, N50, 944,111.96 and Joint University Staff (Ojo) CMS N20, 680,725.00.
ASUU-LASU chairman, Dr. Bakare said all cooperatives in the university were affected and the situation has been presented to the state government to increase the university monthly subvention.
Said he: “The reality on ground for LASU is that the subvention of N450 million monthly from the state government is not enough. The issue will be resolved. There was shortfall in salaries and we have asked for an increase in subvention from the state government. The state government is trying to address the situation.’’
SSANU-LASU chairman, Mr. Oseni insisted that the university management have been remitting the deductions until COVID-19 pandemic, adding “the Lagos State government reduced it subvention, so the management couldn’t remit the monthly deductions.’’
Oseni said the non remittance of the deductions was not the fault of LASU management and hoped that with the resumption of academic activities, the situation will improve with payment of school fee by students and other IGR sources.
Reacting to the non remittance of cooperatives deductions, LASU management acknowledged the situation and stressed that before COVID-19 pandemic, the university did not owe the seven cooperative societies.
The spokesperson of LASU, Mr. Ademola Adekoya, said despite the monthly subvention from the state government, the management uses IGR to augment staff salaries and that during the lock down without students; it was difficult to earn enough IGR to pay full salary and remit the various deductions, adding “there is understanding between the cooperatives and management on the situation. As students resume and make payment, the issue will be resolved.’’