Ogbomoso youth forum and balkanization of LAUTECH: Hero or villain?
Since the massive protest against the planned relocation of the faculty of agricultural sciences Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, LAUTECH, Ogbomoso, to Iseyin in Oke-Ogun area of Oyo state, the organizers of the protest have come under intense umbrage in some quarters in the community.
This outrage against the organizers – Ogbomoso Parapo, Ogbomoso Community Youth Forum (OCYF), market leaders, intracity transporters and artisans – surprisingly is coming from some leaders, who ought to be in the forefront of fending off a scheme to detract from the value of Ogbomoso.
At a public function in Ogbomoso on Saturday, the issue was still mentioned with accusations levelled against those taking up the cudgel against the planned relocation of the largest faculty and one of the oldest faculties in the 33 year-old institution.
It is inexplicable. Yet, they have offered no justification for their support for the plan to balkanize the university other than the usual cliches of Ogbomoso alone does not own the university and more faculties are underway.
To them, whatever government does is right as long as it will buoy their own interests, the injury to the collective interest notwithstanding.
No matter how one looks at it the best interest of Ogbomoso is served if LAUTECH remains mono-campus. Any government, group or individual, who is patriotic towards the community will not contemplate its splintering or lending unwavering support to it. A policy that will impose humongous economic cost, contribute to Ogbomoso being deprived of close to N1b a month in the long run according to studies, that will expose lecturers and students to unimaginable risks of constant traveling, lay bad precedence for further dismantling of the institution, can’t be justified and is bound to throw up opposition.
Making Oyo state sole owner and converting it to a conventional university among others are laudable efforts Engr Seyi Makinde capable of making him an eternal hero especially in Ogbomoso but his planned dismemberment of the institution on the heels of that nullifies the vaunted gains and will make him butt of opprobriums and a villain eternally. The more the merrier is far better than the less the somberly! Taking the faculty away falls in that second category of ‘the less the somberly.’ If you add to the number of faculties great but adding, then removing another, moreover prising off a thriving, old one, can only bequeath a feeling of lugubriousness and somberness.
Why precipitating crisis among communities, for students and teachers when it can be avoided? Why can’t an entirely new university be established in Oke-Ogun like late Governor Abiola Ajimobi did with Technical University, Ibadan? Why rob Peter to pay Paul? Why turn the institution into a sort of ‘national cake’ for political patronage?
Thus, OCYF and others have not acted contrarily to the interest of Ogbomoso and of the university in anyway. Rather, they have taken a position true patriots and true valiant will take. Complacency, compromise, collaboration, silence, cooperation with government aren’t virtues in this particular circumstance, just as fighting is not. But OCYF has not called people out to fight the government, it’s only pointing out the danger inherent in the move, and the approach it had adopted is persuasive. Even on the day of the so-called protest, the governor or the government was not dragged, all the speeches eulogized the governor and strident appeals were made for him to reconsider.
According to the organizers of the protest they had made efforts to meet with the governor for dialogue but the planned meeting persistently was elusive, those opposing the move did not make it happen, they believed they were the numero uno in the land and no other representative of the people of the community has the right to meet with the governor on a matter like that. Their position which is to support the government on the move (though possibly motivated by self interest) is sacrosanct. Yes, they might be right in urging restraint, but they are suspect because they are allies of the governor and liable to be beclouded by zealousness to save face in the face of the governor and to protect their gains. Unknowingly, they have elevated parochial interests over communal interests.
Yes, they will point out their efforts just yielded a result that Makinde has granted the wish of Ogbomoso to get an indigene appointed as Vice Chancellor. That’s commendable but blackmailing those who are agitating for the protection of an heritage in their community is despicable. VC position is good but its benefits can’t compare to retaining the largest faculty in Ogbomoso. It is tantamount to offering a child beacake in order to retrieve something of greater value, giving a rotating chair to take away a whole building complex! Ibadan men are heading Ibadan Polytechnic and Technical University, an Oyo man is heading Emmanuel Alayande University of Education, an Oke-Ogun man is heading Oke Ogun Poly, which are all likewise state owned, so, what is the big deal if an Ogbomoso man heads LAUTECH?
The governor should lead by example, there are at least four state owned institutions in Ibadan (where he hails from) – Technical University, The Polytechnic, School of Hygiene and School of Nursing – let him start with dismemberment of those and OCYF will keep quiet. But if you leave those ones intact and now looks to lay the foundation of breaking into smithereens the only state owned higher institution in Ogbomoso, l think OCYF and others are justified. “Aja mo omo ti e fun lomu, o mo ti odu oya ki mole” comes into mind here.
If lecturers comprising about 80 professors and others as well as students in the faculty also see differently and want the move quashed, then OCYF is not in the wrong path.
Majority of the people of Ogbomoso also want the governor to quash the move no matter what is given in exchange, considered as Greek gift.
OCYF, led by Peter Olaleye, a Baptist pastor, has proven over the years that it’s an advocacy group with Ogbomoso interest uppermost in its schedule of activities. It is not just another youth group driven by intent to seek personal gains. This it has demonstrated again and again. When bandits were rumoured to have infiltrated Surulere/Ogo-Oluwa/Ogbomoso South forests months ago, OCYF it was that mobilized security agents to comb the forests, OCYF it was that exposed the heists going on at the Centre for the Blind, OCYF has continued to mobilize men and other resources to rehabilitate roads in the community, OCYF on several occasions forestalled carting away of valuables at Water Works, Ogbomoso, led an anti-banditry infiltration of Ogbomoso protest in August last year at the height of the kidnapping and murdering of Gbenga Owolabi by suspected bandits, it led successful campaigns against IBEDC’s high handedness; no doubt, OCYF has stood in the gap many times for Ogbomoso in this period of leadership crisis or vacuum, and so, with such impressive credentials it cannot just be denigrated for backing Ogbomoso people to thwart the denigration of their hometown.
I will suggest the agitators backing the movement of the faculty of agriculture also troop out in solidarity rally to see the number of people that will join them or put up media advertorials highlighting why the move is desirable, the outcome can now be used to validate or invalidate their running down of OCYF and its leaders especially president.
It is risky to solely trust the leadership provided by politicians propelled by political and personal interests.
In my estimation, OCYF and all those against the planned devaluation of LAUTECH have not done badly, they are heroes and heroines, they do not deserve to be stigmatized with villainy.
Those who hold that the devaluation of the cherished institution should happen should continue in their path, they should not hamper those who hold contrary opinion.
Posterity will judge all.