Akintola University faces tough test in funding
Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) was established by the old Oyo State and when Osun State was carved out of Oyo, it became the inheritance of the two states.
The new Oyo contributes 60 per cent to its subvention while Osun contributes 40 per cent. The appointment of its vice chancellor is rotated between the two states. The teaching hospital for its medical students is located in Osogbo in Osun State, while the main campus of the school is in Ogbomoso, Oyo State.
Unfortunately, no fund has been released to the university for capital projects in the last 10 years hence unpaid salaries have accumulated.
This is contained in a statement issued by the branch chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Dr. Biodun Olaniran, recently.
The two proprietors are said to be carefree about the future of the institution because both states have their respective universities. LAUTECH was shut down before completing the 2014 session.
The latest crisis can be traced back to Thursday, June 9, 2016, when workers embarked on a strike to protest non-payment of accumulated salaries.
Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Seleiman Gbadegesin, according to a recent NAN report, revealed that the two state governments had paid N584 million out of the N7.6 billion they owed the institution.
A visiting panel headed by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) was constituted by the two states to find a lasting solution to the crisis in the institution. The panel, among other things, recommended increment in fees as a way of getting out of the financial quagmire but when the students heard about the proposed increment, they embarked on a peaceful protest to express their grievances.
The students have visited both the Oyo and Osun state governors many times to express their plight.
The students staged another peaceful protest in Oshogbo a few weeks ago.
Governor Ajimobi’s effort
The crisis allegedly deepened when Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo, in a letter dated September 20, 2016, to all the state’s tertiary institutions, including LAUTECH, stated that the institutions should no longer expect subventions whether for arrears, current or future expenses in running the schools from the state government.
The VC, however stated that each institution would still be getting 25 per cent of its subvention to augment its running cost, assuring that the government would continue to support the institutions with the amount as a sign of its commitment to their well-being but that they were largely expected to use internally generated funds for salaries.
On the part of the workers, ASUU, the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) have said the strike, which was into its eight month, was due to lack of funds to pay workers and to run the university. They vowed that they would not call it off until their demands were met.
Governor Aregbesola’s trouble
The Governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, said his administration was financially incapacitated to tackle the challenges of funding LAUTECH.
“I am incapable. The funds are not just there. Though I still make contributions and my deputy governor is here to testify that I still sign cheques to make payment every month to LAUTECH, it is small. It is not a matter of interest, but incapacity. The failure of the management to live within its means is another issue.”
Agitation for FG to take over the institution
ASUU, LAUTECH chapter, and the students have asked the Federal Government to take over the affairs of the institution.
The students stated their position when they staged a peaceful protest at both the Federal Ministry of Education, Abuja, and the National Assembly.
President of the Students Union Government (SUG) of the institution, Comrade Bakare Olatunde, has been on the same plane since 2015.
He said: “Our demand is very simple. We don’t want the Federal Government to look into the affairs of LAUTECH alone, but we want them to take over the school because none of the two states are willing to perform their responsibilities, especially now that the two states have their personal universities.”
Though it is a joint ownership, but the neglect of LAUTECH should be a thing of concern to the Oyo State Government; it being the mother state.
With the crises yet to be resolved, Governor Ajimobi, last week, inaugurated another university in Oyo State, named Technical University, in Ibadan. Mixed reactions have greeted the neglect of LAUTECH and the establishment of a new university.
(Edited By Olamide Michael)