This article is part of our #FirstWord series to provide context on trending news.
Students of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso, have called for the intervention of the institution’s chancellor, Bola Tinubu and the federal government on the unending crisis plaguing the university.
In a statement signed by the President of the Institution’s Union, Abiodun Oluwaseun, the students described the silence of the authorities as “callous” and fear that the educational standard of the university is going into flames.
For more than two years, LAUTECH has been in one crisis or the other, creating series of strike actions on the path of staff members for non-payment of salaries and poor funding by Osun and Oyo state governments.
What started the crisis?
The institution, owned by both the Oyo and Osun state governments, was relatively calm till the Osun State government in 2010 established another university - Osun State University. The Oyo state government, unhappy about this move, requested that full ownership of LAUTECH be transferred to them.
By executive fiat in 2011, the Oyo state government declared itself the sole owner of the University. This did not go down well with Osun state and legal fireworks ensued. In the end, Oyo lost the battle for sole ownership of the institution in 2012, and joint ownership of the University was again upheld.
But that did not settle things.
In 2016, the Oyo state house of assembly set up a committee to take over the institution. Again, this did not settle well with Osun state. By the middle of that year, LAUTECH was shut down and students were caught in the crossfire between both state governments.
Unending strike actions
The back and forth between both state governments have led them to neglect their financial responsibilities towards the institution. Funding for the University, for example, has been next to nonexistent.
All of this has caused a lack of payment of staff salaries, an unstable academic calendar and the disconnection of university facilities due to debts owed to providers. For more than two years now, the tertiary institution has been in and out of strike actions, in a bid to get the government to act right.
In October 2016, Governors Rauf Aregbesola of Osun and Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo set up a panel to look into LAUTECH’s unending crisis. Led by Wole Olanipekun, the panel submitted its report in February 2017 and made recommendations. Part of the recommendation was for both Governors to pay salaries on time and create a trust fund for the school.
In usual Nigerian fashion, none have been implemented.
At the moment, it does not look like things are about to change for LAUTECH. The students, in a bid to escalate the ongoing crisis, have promised to take their grievance to Abuja in protest.
The students while urging the two governors to resolve the ownership crisis of the institution, declared that it was important for the Federal government to intervene in order to save the University from more strikes.
“If the government continues to show a lack of commitment and disrespect for the lives of the over 3,500 students of the institution, we cannot but embark on a 1 million student march to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja to show the entire world the callousness we suffer in the hands of the governors of Oyo and Osun whose priority ought to be building a brighter and formidable future for this nation but has decided to kill it instead” - Abiodun Oluwaseun, LAUTECH SUG President.
At the moment, it’s hard to say if any substantial change is going to come from the intended protest. If history is anything to go by, this does not exactly spell progress for the institution.