By David Akinadewo
Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), was established on April 23, 1990. It was the exact day the edict establishing the institution was signed by the Federal military government of General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida. This came as a reprieve for the people of Oyo State who have been agitating for the establishment of a university of technology in the state.
The journey that led to the birth of LAUTECH began In 1987, when Governor Adetunji Olurin, the then Military Governor of the old Oyo Stateacceded to a request by the Governing Council of The Polytechnic, Ibadan, forthe establishment of a state university. Olurin, subsequently set up a committee which submitted its report in 1988, and recommended the establishment of the university. Nigeria’s federal military government accepted the state’s request on March13, 1990, and the edict establishing Oyo State University of Technology which later became Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, was signed on April 23, 1990.
October 19, 1990 signaled the commencement of the first academic session of the university, with a total of 436 candidates who were enrolled in four faculties. The pioneer faculties then were; Agricultural Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Engineering and Management Sciences, and Pure and Applied Sciences. A College of Health Sciences was established in 1991.The first vice-chancellor of the university was Professor Olusegun Ladimeji Oke, while the Late business mogul, Bashorun Moshood Kasimawo Olawale Abiola, became the first chancellor in January, 1991.
The name of the university was changed from Oyo State University of Technology, to Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), after the creation of Osun State from Oyo State, and that has remained a nightmare rather than blessing to the institution up till date.
Suffice to say that strike seems to be the only language understand by employers of labour, particularly governments in the Continent of Africa, but the trend in LAUTECH over the years is worrisome and calls for great concern.
Why should the destiny of promising young Nigerians be constantly slaughtered on the altar of self serving politicians who are bent on playing politics with virtually everything? Must the innocent students suffer endlessly because Osun was carved out Oyo State by the Federal Government for ease of administration and in response to the request of the people? Far from it!
Shortly after the creation of Osun State, issues of assets sharing between the two states became a problem. Some were resolved, but unfortunately LAUTECH has remained in the web of misunderstanding between the two states making up the old Oyo State till today. Adequate funding of the institution has been the nightmare of both the staff and students of the 27 years institution.
Over the years, I don’t think there’s any other university in the world that is more ravaged by strikes than LAUTECH. Isn’t it frustrating that a student will be spending six to seven years in LAUTECH for a four years course because some people in positions of authority have refused to let go of their ego?
I cannot but continue to wonder why the government of Osun State has refused to let go of LAUTECH and let the Oyo government run it as the sole owner. After all,Osun already has its own state University!
In 1996, the former Head of State of Nigeria, Late General Sanni Abacha created Ekiti State out of the old Ondo state and the two states also faced similar challenges of how to share their assets and what to do about the higher institutions that spread across the states. All these were resolved, adopting the principle of give and take. It’s important to note that both the state-owned University and the College of Education of Education are on the soil of the newly created Ekiti State at the time, and Ondo State government decided to let go in the interest of the future of the staff and students of the institutions.
This led to the establishment of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko (AAUA), by the administration of Late Chief Adebayo Adefarati, who was the governor of Ondo State between, 1999-2003. This sacrifice was worth it, as it nipped in the bud all issues that might create problems on the funding of the hitherto only university in the old Ondo state, which now falls on Ekiti soil, the Ondo State University, Ado-Ekiti(OSUA). It was later renamed University of Ado-Ekiti (UNAD), after the Ekiti State government had taken over, and now, Ekiti State University (EKSU).
Sad enough, Osun State was created on August 27, 1991, a clear five years before the creation of Ekiti State, yet the issue of seamless funding of LAUTECH is still a great challenge after 26 years.
In 2006, the administration of Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, the former governor of Osun State established the Osun state University (UNIOSUN), and the first convocation of the institution was done in 2011. But up till now, the government of Osun is still not willing to let go of LAUTECH, for reasons best known to the powers that be in the state.
The lingering crisis over the ownership and funding of LAUTECH has remained unresolved and the students are the ones feeling the heat the most, ditto the staff. This ownership issue has always been a source of conflict between Oyo and Osun State, and it became more pronounced after Osun State acquired her own university. The government of Oyo State in 2010, under the administration of Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala demanded for the transfer of full ownership of the University to them, but Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola’s government in Osun disagreed. This conflict led to the closure of the university for months, as usual. It took the intervention of well meaning Nigerians and the National Universities Commission before the feud which was suspected to have political undertone was eventually resolved and academic activities resumed on campus. With the ugly experiences of undergraduates in the institution, the second name of LAUTECH could not be anything less than strikes unlimited.
In a recent statement, the National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Biodun Ogunyemi, labelled the Oyo and Osun State governors as “pretenders” in their bid to reopen LAUTECH.
Ogunyemi, said the Osun State governor, Rauf Aregbesola, and his counterpart in Oyo, Ajibola Ajimobi, ‘have been pretending’ to want to solve the crisis in the institution.
According to him, “The Government has been very insincere. We have asked Oyo State to take over LAUTECH since the varsity is located in the state, we already have said the fact that two states own the university will point to that no one will want to fund it. We are trying but the state governors who own LAUTECH are insincere. They are not funding the school and they have gone to the public to say they are working. Even their own universities they established are not being funded”.
No doubt, LAUTECH has survived so many industrial actions embarked upon by both academic and non academic staff of the university over the years, but the current strike that has been on for over a year should serve as a better opportunity to address the root cause of the unending crisis that is threatening the future of the students.
Isn’t it unfortunate that rather than feel the pain of the students and pacify them when they protested to his office some months ago demanding for the reopening of their university, the Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi lambasted them on the premise of what he termed their lack of respect for constituted authority. I am sure if one of the children of the Governor is an undergraduate of LAUTECH, he obviously wouldn’t have allowed the institution to be under lock and key for this long.
What kind of future leaders are we breeding in this nation with our lackadaisical attitude to the education sector? I pray the two owner-states pocket their differences this time around and resolve the ownership problem once and for all in the interest of the future of our youths.
To the Osun governor, please learn from Ondo and allow Oyo State take full ownership of LAUTECH for posterity sake.