FOR some time now, the Oyo and Osun State governments have been having disagreements over the joint ownership of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) Ogbomoso and LAUTECH Teaching Hospital, located both in Osogbo and Ogbomoso.
Again, just recently, some indigenes of Oyo State, under the aegies of Ogbomoso Parapo Worldwide, the umbrella association of all Ogbomoso sons and daughters, staged a protest, asking the Osun State government to hands-off the running of LAUTECH, Ogbomoso. The association also gave seven days ultimatum to the Oyo State government to commence the process of total take-over of LAUTECH, in compliance with the gazette enacted by the Oyo State House of Assembly.
Equally, the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU), Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) branch, Ogbomoso, had also cried out to well-meaning Nigerians to save the institution from imminent collapse as a result of the stoppage of funding by the two owner states — Oyo and Osun. The two states have been at each other’s throat over the payment of workers’ salaries, provisions of capital grants to the university and many more. Sadly, some lecturers were said to have slumped during lecture hours due to stress and non-payment of salary.
The joint ownership should have been a harbinger of development and a rallying point for the socio-cultural and political affinity of the people. But today, the university, which is supposed to be a source of joy, has suddenly turned to a source of worry, apprehension and a war theatre that is about to tear the states and their people apart. The institution is now enmeshed in a survival battle; LAUTECH, at the moment, serves as a source of disappointment to its thousands of students.
The institution was established on April 23, 1990, just a year before the carving of Osun State out of the old Oyo State. The late Colonel Sasaeniyan Adedeji Oresanya, the then military administrator of the defunct Oyo State, was the one who signed the edict of the institution into law. The institution was the first state university of technology to be established in the country.
Aside that, the school was adjudged the best state university in Nigeria for two consecutive sessions, 2003 and 2004, by the National Universities Commission (NUC). The university, which was founded as Oyo State University of Technology (OSUTECH), was renamed Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), following the creation of Osun State from Oyo State on August 27, 1991. Meanwhile, when Osun State was eventually carved out, the two states took up the responsibility of financing the university
However, for the 25 years of the creation of Osun State, LAUTECH is the only property still jointly owned by the two states. Consequently, for some years now, there have been signals that all is not well between Oyo and Osun state governments over the running of the institution.
It should, therefore, be emphasised that the rhetorical question confronting many people whenever Oyo and Osun governments are at each other’s throat over the running of LAUTECH, is that, why can’t these states part ways over the joint ownership of the institution? Good enough, Osun State now has its university, UNIOSUN. The establishment of UNIOSUN has reduced the Osun State government’s commitment to LAUTECH.
Unfortunately, the Osun State government’s reduced role in the ivory tower is setting the institution back. As a matter of fact, Osun is no longer interested in funding the institution. It is natural that a person should not gobble a morsel that cannot enter his mouth. If he wants to enjoy his meal and elongate his life, he must reduce the seize of his morsel to the quantity his mouth can take, and that which his throat can swallow.
However, it is normal for Oyo and Osun States to desire their own universities, because if LAUTECH is one state’s property, it will be effectively managed. It is, therefore, important that the two warring states take a cue from Ondo and Ekiti states on how they shared the investments, assets and liabilities, including the former Ondo State University (OSUA), Ado-Ekiti, mutually, without creating misgivings among the people and the states.
The governments of Oyo and Osun should borrow a leaf from it in order to give room for the smooth running of LAUTECH, so that it will not jeopardise the future of the university, especially the prospects of its students. Because, when two big elephants fight, it is the grass on the spot of hostilities that suffers.
- Ogunkuade lives in Ogbomoso, Oyo State.