Soun writes Ajimobi, Aregbesola over LAUTECH

LAUTECH JOINT OWNERSHIP, A FAILED
EXPERIMENT: A CASE FOR SOLE OWNERSHIP
I feel highly obliged and compelled to draw the
attention of well-meaning Nigerians and the
Visitors of Ladoke Akintola University of
Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso to the noxious
development ongoing at the institution. The issue
has been lingering on; and for over three (3)
months now the institution has detrimentally
remained close. The attendant academic
disruption has not only become a source of
concern for all well-meaning residents of Oyo
State but also a humongous embarrassment to the
whole world. Hence, as a father to all, it is
pertinent that I offer my candid suggestion on the
way out of the current impasse before further
irreparable damage is done to the institution.
LAUTECH was established by a signed edict dated
April 23, 1990, to advance technological education
in Nigeria. At inception, it was named Oyo State
University of Technology (OSUTECH) but with the
creation of Osun State in 1991 from the Old Oyo
State, the University witnessed a change in
taxonomy to what it is today. The University
started with a total of 436 candidates enrolled in
four faculties: Agricultural Sciences,
Environmental Sciences, Engineering and
Management Sciences, and Pure and Applied
Sciences. A College of Health Sciences was
established a year later at Osogbo (capital of Osun
State) after a Memorandum of Understanding was
signed in October 1991. In its 26 years of
existence, the University has made tremendous
impact; it annually turns out technologically-
skilled manpower for the nation and the world as a
whole. Presently, it’s a source of employment to
over 3,000 Nigerians, and with 25, 000 students
population, it’s a stimulus to the economy of the
two states. Thus, allowing the University to slip
into decay will be a distasteful disservice to our
people and a most unpatriotic thing.
In the main meanwhile, the resolution to jointly
own and fund the institution has proven to be an
error, considering the unfolding events. Clearly,
the status of joint ownership has perpetually bred
a corrosive distrust, a constant spark for
breakdown of inter-governmental relationships
and incessant conflicts.
The unhealthy relationships came to the open
during the administrations of Chief Adebayo Alao-
Akala and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, ex-
governors of Oyo and Osun States. It also
engendered conflict between Otunba Adebayo
Alao-Akala and Governor Rauf Aregbesola; and
then between Governors Abiola Ajimobi and Rauf
Aregbesola. The display of administrative “big
egos” has often taken the centre stage and has
become intractably untamable. Hence, the two
elephants that fight, it is the grass that suffers
most. While the breakdown of inter-governmental
relationships lasts each time, irredeemable
damages are incurred and those at the receiving
end are the hapless students, the unlucky parents,
the flustered institution’s workers and of course,
the two states.
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. For fairness
and justice, at the creation of Osun State, Oyo
State supported wholeheartedly the establishment
of a College of Medicine and Teaching Hospital at
Osogbo. This arrangement presupposes that in the
future, it will become a case of Quicquid plantatur
solo, solo cedit – when two parties hold on to
whatever it has on its land. It is recognition of this
philosophy that has persistently motivated Oyo
State to over the years contribute the most to the
growth of LAUTECH.
Compounding the joint ownership quandary, in
2006, Osun State unilaterally went ahead to
establish its own University – Osun State
University (UNIOSUN). Many took the action to
mean that Osun State was technically pulling out
of her joint ownership of LAUTECH, considering the
financial burden.
Dismissing this allusion however, Osun State gave
assurance it would not disregard its fiscal
commitment to the institution. But sadly,
experience has proven to the contrary? Osun State
has defaulted unrepentantly to redeem her
financial obligations to the University for over
fifteen (15) months now. In sincerity, what this
portends is that the financial burden of running two
state-owned Universities has become too heavy a
load for the Osun State Government.
Interestingly however, while Osun State is evading
her financial responsibilities to LAUTECH, she
continues to nurture her baby, UNIOSUN. Should I
and the good people of Oyo State at large continue
to be passive while the LAUTECH legacy is
smothered into ruins and left prostrate? I say an
emphatic no! In the light of this, I suggest that
Osun State should channel her resources to
building UNIOSUN to an enviable height while Oyo
State is given the grace to solely own LAUTECH.
Furthermore, the joint ownership has become
synonymous with incessant closure, underfunding
and growth retardation, the two owner states now
shortchange each other with reckless impunity.
These then have raised fundamental issues that
need to be quickly addressed.
The institution has been closed since June 13 with
no hope of its reopening in sight. The institution’s
workers are being owed over five (5) months
salaries. The peril inherent in subjecting young
fellows to a state of idleness unendingly is too
obvious. Equally, the current gridlock predisposes
the University to forfeit a whole academic session
while final year students eyeing the mandatory
National Youth Service stand at the threshold of
missing mobilization for the exercise. What about
this year’s admission? Innocent children seeking
admission into the University next session are
already left in the lurch, just as residents are
exposed to a dire situation.
The University that was rated the best State
University in Nigeria for two consecutive seasons,
2003 and 2004 by the National Universities
Commission (NUC) has been witnessing a slide in
rating and forlornly, this year’s ranking released
by the body put it at 21st on the log, a very
worrying development for all lovers of quality
education. Also, the school’s chapters of the
Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities
(SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union
(NASU) have embarked on industrial actions over
the matter. These actions by the various segments
in the University are symptomatic of the deep
financial muddle the University is enmeshed in.
The consideration of this fact must have also
ignited a protest by many parents recently in
Ogbomoso. The object of their grievance is the
protracted standoff over the ownership status of
the University, which is believed to be the catalyst
for the closure of the school and the lack of will to
reopen it, their action is best described as that of a
goat driven to a wall and inexorably turns around
to head butt its assailant, I fear this might
escalate! They are angry that their children who
were supposed to be mobilized for NYSC might be
ill-fated for no “sin” of their own just as prospect
for new admission is fleetingly fading away, not to
mention the harshness this closure has imposed
on the economy of the two states; they indomitably
demonstrated their vehement, fierce resolve, even
though I have been calming their agitations and
impatient disposition with great efforts.
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
as highlighted below: Vice Chancellor – Professor
Adeniyi S. Gbadegesin (Oyo); Deputy Vice
Chancellor – Professor Timothy Adebayo (Osun);
Registrar – Mr. Jacob A. Agboola (Osun); Bursar
– Mr. A.B.C. Olagunju (Osun); Librarian – Mr.
I.O. Ajala (Oyo); Provost, College of Health
Sciences – Professor S.S. Taiwo (Kwara); Dean,
Faculty of Clinical Sciences – Professor O.E.
Ayodele (Ogun); Dean, Faculty of Environmental
Sciences – Professor A.T. Adeboyejo (Ogun);
Dean, Faculty of Management Sciences –
Professor J.O. Adewoye (Osun); Dean, Faculty of
Pure and Applied Sciences – Professor O.M. Oni
(Oyo); Dean, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences –
Professor Gbade Oyediran (Osun); Dean, Faculty
of Basic Medical Sciences – Dr. A.S. Adekunle
(Osun); Dean, Students Affairs – Dr. L.A. Jimoda
(Osun); Dean, Faculty of Engineering and
Technology – Professor K.A. Adebiyi (Oyo);
College Secretary, College of Health Sciences –
Mr. E.A. Ajibesin PAR (Osun); Secretary Post
Graduate School – Mrs. Osundina T.O. DR (Osun);
Personnel Affairs – Mrs. O.O. Oloke DR (Osun);
Academic Affairs – Mrs. A.A. Oguntunde DR
(Osun); PDS Secretary – Mr. Bashiru Isola PAR
(Osun); Faculty Officer – Mrs. V.B. Obiyemi PAR
(Osun); Director, Health Centre – Dr. Adegbosin
C.O. (Osun); Director, Sports – Mr. Oguntunde
A.O. (Osun). Isn’t this a clear shortchanging?
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. I am aware
that LAUTECH’s joint ownership status is
calculated to show the outside world that two
governments owning and running a University
together is feasible. After all, there is no place
found in Nigeria where such thing is practised. We
should take a cue from what happened when Ekiti
and Delta States were created from Ondo and
Bendel States respectively, the existing state-
owned Universities reverted to the state where
they were located accompanied by equitable
sharing of assets and liabilities. This ensured that
the succeeding years are free of superfluous
imbroglios over funding and constitution of the
management team, and so they succeeded in
precluding a perennial conflict over ownership
status. Therefore, as events have wholly depicted,
LAUTECH’s joint ownership is a monumental
aberration and the so -called “model,” has utterly
fallen apart.
It is precarious to toy with the lives of future
leaders of the state and the country at large. 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.
It is a clarion call. All stakeholders should
urgently put all machineries in place to salvage
the institution. It is evident the two proprietors,
Oyo and Osun States, are tired of co-funding
because of lots of intricate difficulties.
Interestingly, both states would be desirous of
having their separate Universities. Thanks that
Osun State has UNIOSUN, with LAUTECH Teaching
Hospital and College of Health Sciences, Osogbo
while Oyo State has LAUTECH and the College of
Health Sciences in Ogbomoso. Allowing each
state to go it all alone would be statesmanship.
The reality is that joint ownership of the University
has proven impracticable in view of these
elaborate problems associated with it.
The University’s Visitors, I crave your indulgences
to draw your focus to the fact that Oyo State had
long been tired of the joint ownership, let me refer
to a letter that emanated years ago to corroborate
this. Titled, “Re: An Appeal for Peace” dated 31st
March, 2011, with reference No. Gov. 25/
Vol.11/612 in response to my pleadings for peace
to reign concerning the matter at the time, part of it
states: “Kabiyesi, joint ownership of Ladoke
Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso,
when it so existed, was a partnership. At the point
that Oyo State found that the partnership was no
longer workable and mutually rewarding, we opted
out … Our decision should not cause any bad
blood …” The above claim from the Oyo State
Government emphasized the position of the state.
Therefore, I admonish that Osun State Government
be disengaged from the co-ownership of LAUTECH,
the following reasons, which are summaries of the
already highlighted points will suffice:
Inability of Osun State to continue to meet her
financial obligations to the institution, it has been
fifteen months now it last released grants to the
institution, a situation that makes payment of
salaries difficult and stifles capital projects.
Problems associated with the breakdown of inter-
governmental relationships between the two
states.
Passive attitude of Osun State towards the
development of the institution, particularly in the
area of provisions of infrastructures.
Opportunity for each state to hold on and be more
dedicated to each state’s owned University i.e.
UNIOSUN and LAUTECH.
For entrenchment of enduring peace and creation
of a conducive environment for innovative
development of both LAUTECH and UNIOSUN.
In conclusion I pledge to give full royal support to
work along with other stakeholders to facilitate all
the necessary arrangements that would lead to
peaceful and smooth disengagement as soon as
possible and pave way for each state to own
solely her state’s University. It is time to face the
reality on ground and take a stand that will be
applauded by future generations.
Thank you.
Yours,
His Royal Majesty,
Oba (Dr.) Oladunni Oyewumi Ajagungbade III JP
CON CFR
Soun of Ogbomosoland

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