Last month, news filtered in that Oyo state has become the sole owner of the embattled Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso, giving affirmation to the long sought desire of the people of Oyo state especially those that are resident in Ogbomoso to have Osun state, the then co-owner, disengage from the ownership structure of the institution. The reason is not farfetched, Osun state because it established another university began to default in meeting its financial obligations to LAUTECH, a development that had adverse effects on the university such as long closures of the institution.
The dissolution of the joint ownership was announced during a media briefing in Abuja by the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Abubakar Rasheed.
Professor Rasheed similarly pronounced that Osun state government would take over LAUTECH College of Health Sciences in Osogbo.
The NUC boss further informed that both Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo state and Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun state had signed a Memorandum of Agreement to the effect while expressing hope that the new development would put a stop to incessant crisis in the institution.
The pronouncement engendered widespread jubilation with many singing the praises of Engr. Seyi Makinde.
But today, the euphoria has evaporated in Ogbomoso owing to the plan by the Oyo state government to turn the university into a multi-campus one, the bill of which was passed into law by the Oyo state House of Assembly last Tuesday, December 22.
However, mixed reactions have trailed the proposal with many vehemently opposed to it in Ogbomoso while on the other hand the indigenes of Oke-Ogun who see themselves as the would-be major beneficiaries of the proposal are overwhelmed with ecstasy.
The proposal has elicited many comments especially on social media both arguing in favour and against.
In a telephone interview, president of Egbe Omo Ogbomoso Parapo Agbaaye, Justice Afolabi Adeniran (retd.) though saying the socio-cultural organization would come up with a position paper on the matter during a meeting on Thursday, December 24, opined that the plan would disadvantage the university in the long run.
Justice Adeniran said the matter would be looked at holistically with emphasis on the advantages and disadvantages of the move and government advised appropriately.
“I am contacting people, we will deliberate on it, we will come up with a position paper. There will be a meeting at Ogbomoso Parapo House. We should look at it from the point of the best universities in Nigeria – University of Ibadan, Ahmadu Bello University, University of Nigeria, University of Lagos, Obafemi Awolowo University, University of Benin and all the rest, they are all mono-campuses.
“If they are operated based on multi-campus system they would have had problems even in the UK, all the solid universities are mono campuses. Ogbomoso is not the owner of the university but we need to advance reasons why a multi-campus system will disadvantage the university and we will advise the government not to dabble into it. What we need is for the university to be run to attain its previous status of the best state university in Nigeria,” the former Chief Justice of Oyo state remarked.
Also reacting, Ogbomoso Descendants Development Association (ODDA), strongly condemned the move describing it as a meditated attack against Ogbomoso.
“We, the Ogbomosos are not only taken aback but pained when the state government confirmed the hitherto rumoured next stage of the political onslaught against our Ogbomosoland by its Wednesday announcement of the proposed Bill to make the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso into the multi-campus institution.
“With the current sole-ownership of LAUTECH, all zones in Oyo State are now having one or two-state institutions namely Emmanuel Alayande College of Education, Oyo, College of Agriculture, Igboora, Ibarapa Polytechnic, Eruwa, Oke Ogun Polytechnic, Saki, Technical University, Ibadan and the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso.
“But before this, while LAUTECH was still co-owned by both Oyo and Osun States, none of these other institutions were established to be multi-campus and none till date is multi-campus; why then trying to share LAUTECH as if it is spoils of war?”
In an article, Adewuyi Adegbite, a historian and columnist also expressed outrage: “The only government institution in Ogbomoso zone is Ladoke Akintola University of Technology. The founding fathers of the institution sited the school in Ogbomoso because they thought that the town deserved it at the period because out of all the zones that made up Old Oyo State, only Ogbomoso was deprived of higher institution. Another fact was that, Ogbomoso people contributed to the fund-raising for the institution more than any town in the state and I stand to be challenged on this fact. This is not to mean that Ogbomoso as a town or an administrative zone owned the school,…Besides, all other major zones in the state already have state institutions located in their respective zones and space would not allow further elaboration. The last major institution established in Oyo State is Technical University in Ibadan founded by the immediate past administration. If the truth must be told, siting Technical University in Ibadan in spite of the number of the state owned-tertiary institutions in the city is spurious and an act of injustice to other parts of the state…. we cannot feel unconcerned when Engr. Seyi Makinde wants to dismember LAUTECH. If the Technical University cannot be made a multi-campus institution despite the fact that all 33 local governments in the state run the university by decoy, LAUTECH should be left alone.“
In a Facebook comment, Mr. Olusola Okesola submitted that the proposal if implemented would be a huge drain on the resources of the state also arguing that multi-campus system would limit the effectiveness of the institution in several fronts such as management, lecturers’ productivity and so on.
He notes, “Anyone who supports multi-campus design for LAUTECH after 30 years of existence lacks analytical mindset. First, the investment in the university is enormous to the extent that multi-campus status will require more than 100% of what has been expended,
“Secondly, a multi-campus higher institution is prone to poor management and administration, high corruption, laziness on the part of lecturers and high level of inconsistencies.”
In similar vein, Ayandaoluwa Ayooluwa, in a piece also in this edition stresses, “Today, Osun State University is a multi-campus university and this was done right since its inception. Because of this, they are now having serious problem of managing this.
“The shuttling lecturers are not regularly paid their allowances for the shuttles and they are seriously complaining. LAUTECH already has the structure they need for all the faculties and departments within Ogbomoso Township. So, why should there be any need for the expansionary move…. my advice is that you should shelve that ill-advised idea or plan that can again cripple LAUTECH as the consequences can be very disastrous. Already, LAUTECH had experienced too many unpalatable moments.”
Then, Samson Oluwafemmy Adeniji also on social media expresses his view: “I see politics being played out. Every well meaning person should know that united we stand divided we fall. What if Oke-Ogun gets a state tomorrow and gets carved out, the same issue that was just resolved in the ownership tussle between Osun and Oyo will still play out.
“You don’t love a region and hate another region you are governing. Take a look at Ibadan, it has UI, Technical University, Lead City University, Dominican University, Dominion University, Kola Daisi University, Precious Cornerstone University – one federal, one state and five private universities, 7 in all, aside the Polytechnic, Ibadan and other federal mono-technics and institutes (FRIN, CRIN etc), yet the governor never thought of making Tech-U a multi-campus university. The only university in Ogbomoso is to be Balkanized.
“This is not a welcome idea at all. The governor should have a rethink on this and reverse the purported plan slammed on LAUTECH!
“You cannot solve a problem by creating a bigger one. Government should listen to the yearnings of the people. GSM should rescind the idea of splitting LAUTECH. Ogbomoso people like Makinde too, he needs to listen to them too. That is my view.”
Though, the bill on the proposal had been signed into law but it is still believed that it would be aborted as Governor Makinde is believably a governor driven by reason rather than by emotion or excessive political consideration.