LAUTECH To Re-Open Soon

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By Samuel Malik

The age-long problems affecting the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, LAUTECH, Ogbomosho in Oyo state, jointly owned by Oyo and Osun states, are almost over and normal academic activities will resume in the next two weeks, as the two state governments have renewed their commitments to the school.

The www.icirnigeria.org also gathered that a major announcement on the future of the school is expected to be issued jointly by the two states in a few days’ time. The states, however, are refusing to confirm or deny the information, only volunteering that the school’s resumption is “very, very close”.

LAUTECH has been closed down since June 13, when the school management asked students to proceed on an indefinite break “until further notice”, as uncertainty over the long time future of the school, particularly with regards to funding, reached a critical level.

But a highly placed university source, who did not want to be named, confirmed that Governors Abiola Ajimobi and Rauf Aregbesola of Oyo and Osun states respectively met recently and agreed to work towards a peaceful resolution of the problem.

“There is high hope that we are returning sooner than expected. Management has been meeting and I am also aware that the two governors are doing their best to see that the situation is resolved so that our students can come back to campus

“The two governors have agreed to find a common ground and it is expected that within the next two weeks, students will be asked to resume,” the source said.

Confirming the development, the public relations officer of the school, Lekan Fadeyi, said with the progress made by the two governors, the school would soon resume.

“There is high hope that we are returning sooner than expected. Management has been meeting and I am also aware that the two governors are doing their best to see that the situation is resolved so that our students can come back to campus,” Fadeyi said, adding that while he could not give a specific date, “it is going to be very very soon and things will take a commendable shape”.

Our findings revealed that Osun state has failed to meet its financial obligations to the school for some time, after allegedly removing the institution from its payroll. This forced the Oyo state government to also withdraw its support, saying it was not ready to solely finance the school. Recently, Oyo state released some money to the school but directed that it must not be spent until Osun state also released its part of the funding.

But there are indications that Osun is now willing to pay its dues.

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A sourced stated: “We met with the state government officials and they told us they have put us back into their payroll and will fulfil their end of the deal soon. The states thought we could sustain ourselves but they have been proved wrong. The person in charge of Osun state’s payroll confirmed that LAUTECH has been added.”

Fadeyi also confirmed that Osun state has agreed to resume funding the school, saying the present economic situation in the country might have affected the state.

“Yes (the state is putting LAUTECH back on its payroll) but there has never been a time the state government said it was not going to meet its obligations. Like every other institution, and when I say institution I mean state, federal government inclusive, the economic recession is affecting everybody. The state admitted that as a visitor and co-founder of the school, it has some obligations that must be met. Maybe because of the economic situation of the state, we had some inability to pay but the governor has said that they will resume payment very soon and we have no reason to doubt him,” he pointed out.

The Special Assistant to Governor Abiola Ajimobi on Youth and Sport, Bolaji Repete, confirmed that the two states are talking and that a resolution is near.

He said: “The two state governments are working together to resolve the crisis and I can assure you that very soon LAUTECH will be reopened.

“Oyo state government has been so responsible when it comes to the welfare of LAUTECH as a whole but you cannot blame Osun state. Everybody is aware of what is going on in Osun state, so I cannot condemn or criticise Osun state government for not being able to pay or meet their own obligation concerning LAUTECH,

“As far as I am concerned, Oyo state government has been meeting up its own obligation in its own little way. The issue is not all about Oyo state. Oyo state has played its own part, so I think Osun state government should also help in order to resolve the issue.”

The Commissioner for Information in Osun State, Sunday Akere, also confirmed that talks are underway and a statement is expected soon. He admitted there are issues between the two states but said there is need for the issues to be sorted out in order for students to return to the classrooms.

“The two states are joint owners of the school and although we may have some issues but definitely in the interest of students and the generality of the people of the two states, we belong to the same party, we must work to resolve the issues and get things going. Officials of the two states are working and talking and we know that very, very soon the areas of contention will be sorted out,” Akere said.

Findings by the www.icirnigeria.org revealed that funding has been at the centre of the crisis in LAUTECH.

Since Ajimobi and Aregbesola became governors, LAUTECH has not received capital expenditure from the two states, with the school depending solely on its internally generated revenue and whatever fund it can get from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund.

“The school is not properly funded and that has been the genesis of whatever problem exists now or in the past,” the source said.

“Since two years ago, the two states stopped giving the school subventions and the school has been on and off. Whatever it generated from its IGR, it used to pay salaries. This time around, money has dried up completely from the coffers of the university and that was why it had to close shop.”

The two governors, the source said, called the school management to say they could not give it 100 percent of its recurrent expenditure. They could only afford 70 percent and asked the school to generate the balance internally.

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So, what Oyo state was said to have released last month was its 50 percent of the 70 percent recurrent expenditure, with the expectation that Osun would release the other 50 percent.

On September 9, parents and indigenes of Ogbomosho, apparently dissatisfied with Osun state’s role in the school, protested the continued closure of the school and called on the Oyo state government to take full ownership of the school.

This website gathered that part of the reason for the protest was that Oyo state had been consistent in the last few months in making its contribution, but Osun had continued to default.

Akere, however, condemned the protest, saying the people had no right to determine for the states what should happen to the school.

According to him: “It is not for the indigenes of Ogbomosho to decide what should be done or not. The institution belongs to the two states and the fact that it is cited in Ogbosmosho does not give indigenes of Ogbomosho the prerogative to decide for the government.”






     

     

    Repete agreed that the protesters should not dictate to the two states what should happen to LAUTECH.

    “LAUTECH is situated in Ogbomosho, so they have the right to protest and demand for whatever they want but as a government, we have to look at the merits and demerits of their protest, then the government will issue a statement concerning that,” he said.

    With the two states said to be working assiduously to reopen the school, Repete said whatever the reasons for the protests, everything would be settled when the two states issue a joint statement as soon as Friday.

    “Immediately the two states issue a statement, I think before Friday, denying or rejecting the call for sole ownership, I think the strike will definitely die a natural death,” he said.

     

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