As a measure of proffering lasting solution to the lingering crises rocking the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology(LAUTECH), Ogbomoso, Oyo State, Governor Seyi Makinde, of the state has sought for sole ownership of the institution, just as he inaugurated a five-man committee to help actualise the plans.
The committee named: “Oyo State Negotiation Committee on LAUTECH Ownership and Other Related Issues” was inaugurated at the Executive Chambers of the Governor’s Office, Secretariat, Ibadan.
The committee which is to be chaired by the Chairman of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), UI chapter, Professor Ayodeji Omole, also has a former minister of state for the FCT, Chief Jumoke Akinjide; a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Bolaji Ayorinde; Professor Oyelowo Oyewole (Oyo State Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General) and Professor Dahud Sangodoyin (Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology) as members.
According to the governor, with close to 30,000 students, over 1,200 staffs and hundreds of thousands of Naira made in daily income by businesses dependent on the institution for survival, thousands of people suffer untold hardships anytime the institution is shot down as a result of strike.
Relating the ownership issues to the biblical example of Abraham and Lot, Governor Makinde said parting ways with the Osun state government on the ownership of the institution is not to begrudge her but as a way of putting the interest of the state and the students first.
Makinde said: “30,000 students. 1,200 staff. Hundreds of thousands of Naira in daily income from dependent businesses.”
“Each time the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso (LAUTECH) shuts down due to non-payment of salaries or any other issue facing the institution, everyone suffers.”
“This is because LAUTECH is not just the centre of academic activities in Ogbomoso, Oyo State, most commercial activities in this town revolve around this institution. And since anything that affects the socio-economic dynamics of any section of Oyo State affects us all, we must give these challenges due attention. It is for this reason that we are inaugurating this five-man committee today.”
“Why do we need a committee to take charge of the LAUTECH deliberations?”
“For those who read the Bible, you will recall a dispute that took place between Abraham and Lot’s servants. They quarrelled over a well. The patriarch and his nephew came up with a solution that worked for both of them. No doubt each had their grievances. Yet, they sought a workable solution. This solution involved parting ways.”
“You will recall that whilst on the campaign trail, I made it clear that I have come across information that I believe may have misled the Supreme Court into co-joining Osun State and Oyo State as owners of LAUTECH. I have also always advocated that the issues affecting the institution will be better managed if only one of the two states is in charge of this school. It is obvious that this alliance is not working.”
“In the past couple of years, epileptic strike actions by lecturers has led to students spending more time in the university than they originally bargained for. The latest strike is going into its second week.”
“I think it is unfair to the students, the lecturers and the ancillary businesses domiciled in Ogbomoso that depend on the university. Your one job is to, in a manner of speaking, secure a divorce for us.”
“We are ready and able to shoulder the responsibility of sole ownership of LAUTECH. The Oyo State 2020 budget already captures overheads and capital expenditure for the university at N2.09 Billion Naira. We will fund any additional expenditure which may arise from sole ownership with a supplementary budget, if necessary.”
“My dream is that LAUTECH becomes that University of Technology that people from across Africa and indeed the world aspire to attend. Tertiary Education can become a revenue generator in Oyo State. But we cannot accomplish this with joint ownership.”
“Let me state that we are not declaring war on Osun State, we do not begrudge them. Just as Abraham and Lot held no grudges against one another after they separated, we shall continue to collaborate with the good people of Osun State on other matters. But on this, we have to put our interest and the interest of the economy of Oyo State first.”
“Therefore, I urge you to put your heart into this work and bring us results in the shortest possible time. And to ensure that the work is done in a timely manner, we are giving you an initial four weeks to submit your preliminary reports.”
Responding on behalf of the committee, the Chairman, Professor Omole assured the commitment of the members noting that although the job given the committee looks simple, it is actually difficult in the real sense because of the interests involved.
He assured that the report to be presented by the committee will be based on verifiable facts and figures, adding that the work would be done in the spirit of service to the nation because the impact to be made will go beyond Oyo state that is giving the assignment.