The re-surfacing of the crisis over the joint-ownership of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) shows all is not well between Oyo and Osun States. TUNDE OGUNESAN x-rays the recent actions and reactions over the understanding on the management of the institution.
Apparently, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso, established on April 23, 1990 by the military administrator of the old Oyo state, Colonel Sasaenia Adedeji Oresanya is the only known university with joint ownership structure today in Nigeria.
It was founded on the exemplary visionary ideals by the founding fathers, led by the former military governor of the Old Oyo state, with 42 local government councils then, that now make up Oyo and Osun states.
However, today, permanent peace seems eluding the institution once known for tranquillity.
It all started during the last administration of two former governors of the states; Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola and Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala, before resurfacing few months ago. The current governors of the two states, Senator Abiola Ajimobi and Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, have also failed to find solution to the crisis rocking the institution.
The genesis of the problem allegedly arose from the establishment of a state-owned university by Osun State, thus affecting its financial obligation to the now troubled university.
Feelers from Oyo State are that with the establishment of Osun State University, it would be technically difficult for Osun State to fulfil its financial obligation to LAUTECH.
In their reasoning, Osun has never come out that its new institution of learning is a problem, hence its dedication to hold onto its stake in LAUTECH.
Despite the fact that the matter has gone to the Supreme Court, the matter is still up for resolution in the public courts.
At the moment, the school is not in session due to arrears of salary being owed its staffers.
The institution has been grounded by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) LAUTECH chapter following five months salaries and 23 months subvention being owed by the management of the institution.
The union president, Dr Biodun Olaniran revealed that both states owed subventions, with Oyo State owing eight months while Osun owed 15 months.
He lamented the conditions his members had been working in the last few months, adding that the solution to the institution’s crisis was for the two states to live up to their “social responsibilities by properly funding the institution as required.”
Recently, the host community, Ogbomoso, which hosts most structures of the university, took up the matter and came out publicly to declare their stance on the imbroglio which political affiliation has failed to resolve.
First was the Soun of Ogbomoso, His Royal Majesty, Oba (Dr) Oladunni Oyewumi Ajagungbade III, in a letter to the two governors and other concerned stakeholders urged a quick resolution of the crisis and making a case for sole ownership by the Oyo State government.
According to him, “From the foregoing, I find it difficult to fold my arms. The edict that established the university has never been ambiguous as it emphatically entrusted the ownership to Oyo State.
“Furthermore, the joint ownership has become synonymous with incessant closure, underfunding and growth retardation, the two owner states now short-change each other with reckless impunity. These then have raised fundamental issues that need to be quickly addressed.
“It is also instructive that though Osun State has stopped funding the university, its people are still dominant in the management cadre of the school which Oyo State indigenes however overlook. This is reflected in the breakdown of Principal Office holders and other appointments in the institution…
“The slide must be checkmated. And as such, the most convincing resolution I can proffer to this (gratuitous) menace represented by the knotty issues above, lies in the immediate process of handing over of the university to Oyo State, which has no other state-owned university.
“Since it is palpable that co-ownership is not working, I appeal to the two governors to quickly take a bold step towards a peaceful parting of ways regarding the institution. I call on well-meaning Nigerians to rise and rescue LAUTECH from imminent collapse.”
As the royal father fired this salvo, several others made their positions known to the public.
Few days after Soun’s letter, Osun State Education committee visited the school to allay the fears of their indigenes of their support and calm their nerves of any impending threat to their life and job security.
On the same day, one of their indigenes, a bursar of the institution, was alleged to have escaped being lynched.
The situation, at the moment, is becoming more daunting. From government face-off, it has fallen to personal and individual attack.
Last week’s attack was alleged to have been sponsored and aided by a socio-cultural group in Ogbomoso, Egbe Omo Ogbomoso Parapo Agbaye, but its National General Secretary, Honourable Michael Abioye denied the claim.
Abioye said the issue was blown out of proportion, but was quick to condemn the attempt by Osun State Education committee to schedule a meeting at the institution at a time when the issue was really pressing.
Abioye declared that “LAUTECH belongs to Oyo State. We (Egbe Omo Ogbomoso Parapo Agbaye) are speaking for the entire people of Oyo State. Osun State should disengage from LAUTECH.”
In a swift reaction to the traditional ruler’s letter, the Osun State House of Assembly berated the Soun of Ogbomoso, Oba Oladunni Oyewumi, Ajagungbade III on the crisis following the alleged attack on Osun workers in the institution allegedly led by prominent Ogbomoso leaders.
Addressing pressmen and staff of LAUTECH at the state House of Assembly session last Wednesday, the Osun lawmakers insisted that the joint ownership of LAUTECH, by Osun and Oyo States must continue.
The Chairman, House Committee on Education, Honourable Folorunso Bamisayemi, described the action of “Oyo State to disengage from the joint ownership of LAUTECH as a betrayal of decency.”
In his speech reported in the media after the conference entitled “The LAUTECH Saga: A Betrayal of the Yoruba (OMOLUABI) Spirit of Oneness and Decency by Ogbomoso Community,” denied allegation that Osun State has been funding its own university at the expense of LAUTECH.
Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi while speaking with journalists at the commissioning of an ultra modern vice-chancellor’s lodge donated by the legal luminary, Chief Wole Olanipekun and his wife, Princess Lara, promised that the matter will be resolved amicably soonest.
Ajimobi stated that “Before we came in 2010, the former governor, Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala and his Osun State counterpart then, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, had an agreement to transfer LAUTECH to Oyo State. But Governor Rauf Aregbesola went to court, and the case got to the Supreme Court. In 2012, the court gave a judgment that co-ownership of LAUTECH by both states remained unbroken. The judgment held that unless both owners sit down and agree, no party can singlehandedly decide to severe the relationship.
“Agreed that Osun State is not paying as it should be paying, Oyo State has paid substantially more than Osun has paid. What we are saying now is for us to sit down and see the need for co-owners to fulfill our obligations.”
The National Executive Council, National Executive Committee and the entire members of the LAUTECH Alumni Association, in a letter signed by its national President and Financial Secretary, Babajide Bewaji and Babalola O.J, respectively, titled “We remain committed to a united LAUTECH” condemned the action of Ogbomoso Parapo.
It stated that the joint-ownership has remained productive over the years, calling on all stakeholders to eschew violence and work for the progress of the institution.