Before the balkanization of LAUTECH

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Femi OGUNLANA
The announcement by the National Universities Commission (NUC) on November 20, 2020, that Oyo state has become the sole owner of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso, was one that sparked widespread jubilations in Oyo state particularly in Ogbomoso because of the many benefits envisaged would trail the development. More jobs for Oyo state indigenes, stability in the institution among others are some of the gains expected to accrue from the disengagement by Osun state. The struggle for the disengagement of Osun state began towards the end of the 2000s sequel to the founding of a university by Osun during the administration of Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola as it was thought the move would cause distractions against LAUTECH.
Truly, Osun state began to default in meeting its financial obligations towards the once best state university in Nigeria and the institution started to suffer instability and flounder. Oyo state governor then, Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala saw the handwriting on the walls and initiated the process of disengagement of Osun; he approached Oyinlola, who after initial resistance succumbed but his removal by the Court in 2010 threw spanners in the work as the major beneficiary of his removal, Raufu Aregbesola reneged on earlier agreements. The assumption of office of Senator Abiola Ajimobi in Oyo state in 2011 further estranged the agreement.
The coming on board of Governors Gboyega Oyetola in Osun and Seyi Makinde in Oyo in 2018 and 2019 respectively meanwhile facilitated the breakup of the joint ownership, which is a source of great euphoria in Ogbomoso in particular. LAUTECH is no doubt the mainstay of the economy of the Land of Valiant; headache in LAUTECH infects Ogbomoso and buoyancy in LAUTECH translates to buoyancy in the city. Thus, years of closure and instability the university witnessed in recent past adversely affected the city.
However, the news emanating since the takeover of the institution by Oyo state have been disturbing, first from Governor Seyi Makinde, who reportedly said that the university would become multi-campus. The people of Oke-Ogun zone are now in frenzy over the prospect. But I want to declare emphatically that a step as balkanization of LAUTECH is ill-conceived and not well-thought out. The founding fathers did not entrench a multi-campus clause into the edict that founded the university and why must it be smuggled into it now? The governor should tread softly and not be swayed by political considerations. Running and funding a university should be immune to politics if its mission is to be achieved. What gains will accumulate from beginning the process of balkanizing a university just coming from crisis? You start it, you don’t finish it before your tenure runs out and you expect someone to continue from there? It cannot stand logic! The resources that will be needed to construct other campuses elsewhere will surely find better use in developing the moribund university and where is even the fund? Structures that are already on ground you want to duplicate elsewhere while the existing ones are now underutilized and they begin to rot. That is not what LAUTECH needs now, rather a strong footing that will help in restoring it to its former glory of the best state university in Nigeria. It has the foundation for greatness, balkanizing it will further take it away from attaining greatness.
We should resist making LAUTECH a toy for whatever reason; Polytechnic, Ibadan is there; polytechnics are located in Oke-Ogun and Ibarapa; there is a college of agriculture in Igbo-Ora; a college of education is in Oyo; there is a technical university in Ibadan, all owned by Oyo state, you are not thinking in the direction of balkanizing these institutions, why must it be LAUTECH that must be broken up? If the state government is so much interested in having institutions in Oke-Ogun or elsewhere, why not start new institutions, a mono university or what have you instead of upturning an apple cart? Imagine families that will be unsettled – fathers separated from wives and children and so on and so forth, a lecturer that has taken Ogbomoso as home, built houses here, now having to relocate to where his/her faculty is taken and start with the issue of finding accommodation again will not find it funny. The cost of balkanizing LAUTECH will be too great and I implore Governor Makinde to reconsider. He has etched his name in gold already by completing the takeover of LAUTECH by Oyo state; taking the university to greater heights by adequately funding it should be his goal now and will be of more value than making it multi-campus. If he establishes another institution in Oke-Ogun, he will be loved there for live; if he balkanizes LAUTECH the disapproval he will court in Ogbomoso that has nothing else that it can point to as of government will be greater than the love he will earn by establishing a new institution in a smaller enclave elsewhere. He should not rob Ogbomoso to pay any other zone. Why not balkanize Technical University, Ibadan, that has certain number of students taken on admission from each local government across the state with their tuitions being paid from government coffers? Ogbomoso will hold him in odium for life if he splits LAUTECH; but if he rescinds the decision, his accomplishment of rescuing LAUTECH from the throes of death joint ownership with Osun has put it, will forever make him our hero. He should begin the process of founding other higher institutions elsewhere rather than hurting us in Ogbomoso.

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