LAUTECH as metaphor for ‘change’

Perhaps, nowhere is the “Change” better felt than on the premises of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, LAUTECH, which has been under lock for almost two years.

Sir: In the build-up to the 2015 general elections, four opposition parties came together to form the All Progressives Congress, APC, and took the word “Change” as their party’s motto. The new party later went on to win the 2015 presidential election as well as several governorship seats across the country.

It has been two years since the party came into office and the “Change” is indeed everywhere. Every Nigerian—from day old suckling to age-bent seniors—can truly feel the “Change.” Perhaps, nowhere is the “Change” better felt than on the premises of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, LAUTECH, which has been under lock for almost two years.

The Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, was conceived by the military administration of Gen. Adetunji Olurin in 1987 to meet the scientific and technological needs of the Southwest, nay Nigeria. But the school did not commence academic activities until October 1990 when Col. Sasaenia Adedeji Oresanya, Olurin’s successor, signed the edict establishing the university. When Osun State was carved out of the old Oyo State in 1991, an agreement was reached between the new state and what remained of the old Oyo State to jointly own and fund the school. Thus, the school name was changed from Oyo State University of Technology, Ogbomoso, to its current name.

Both sides have kept to this agreement and things have gone on seamlessly until the “Change” agents came into office and began to starve the school of funds thereby making it financially anaemic. Issues came to a head mid-last year when the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, LAUTECH chapter, called an industrial action to protest the non-payment of its members’ salary.

Since then, students of the school—the usual victims of such action—have been at home hoping against hope that their school will soon be reopened. But their hope is fast wearing thin as there appears to be no end in sight to their misery.

The visitors to the school, Governor Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State and his Oyo State counterpart, Abiola Ajimobi have been incoherent in their statements on the financial crisis facing the school, choosing to deflect their ineptitude by blaming the management of the school for the impecunious state the school finds itself. Also, they blamed their helplessness on the drop in federal allocation to their states—the most irksome of their litany of excuses.

Late last year, the Federal Government released N12 billion and N13 billion respectively to the Osun State and Oyo State governments as part of their share of the Paris Club refund. Many had hoped that a part of this money would go to the school to settle part of its staff’s outstanding salaries, but this was not to be. A big birthday celebration in Osun State and the payment of contractors in Oyo State were much more important to the governors than the reopening of the university.

Ajimobi has probably revealed his true thought about the place of the university in his government agenda when he told students of the school who had gone to his office to protest the prolong closure of their school that the school was not the first school to be shut down due to non-payment of its staff’s salary. “Se eni ni won tin ti school ni?” he had said. Before he went on, like King Louis XIV, to declare himself the state—the constituted authority.

In all of these, what is most puzzling is the deafening silence of the school Chancellor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Aregbesola and Ajimobi had named Tinubu the Chancellor of the troubled school in 2012. As the Chancellor of the school, Tinubu has not uttered a word on the crisis plaguing the school, choosing rather to play the ostrich.

My heart really goes out to parents and guardians with wards in the school.

Onabanjo Odurombi.

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