The ownership crises rocking Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, worsened over the weekend as both Oyo and Osun state governments traded blame in an exclusive interview granted by Punch reporter.
Mouthpiece NGR reports the two states have been in fierce battle over ownership since 2003 during Akala and Oyinlola led administration.
In an Exclusive interview with Punch, Osun said “Oyo not fulfilling obligations to LAUTECH”.
Osun State Governor Gboyega Oyetola’s Chief Press Secretary, Ismail Omipidan, tells BOLA BAMIGBOLA conditions Oyo State government must meet to solely own the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, which is jointly owned by the two-neighbouring states
Chairman of Osun Committee on LAUTECH, Prof Olu Aina, recently said Oyo State Government refused to negotiate with it further on the institution. Has that situation changed?
It has not. We are still waiting for the Oyo State Government. Recall that in October last year, a meeting was brokered between Oyo State Governor, Mr Seyi Makinde, and his Osun State counterpart, Adegboyega Oyetola, by the chairman of the LAUTECH’s Governing Council, Prof Oladapo Afolabi.
At the meeting, it was mutually agreed that we should set up a 10-man committee, five from each state, to look into the issue of joint ownership and proffer lasting solutions. The meeting was held on October 30, 2019. A week later, we inaugurated our own committee, led by our respected Professor Emeritus, Olu Aina. It took Oyo State about a month to inaugurate its own committee. So, it is true, we are still waiting for Oyo to come to the table.
What are the indications that Oyo State wants to solely own LAUTECH without following the due process?
Well, officials of the state, including the education commissioner, have made both implied and direct statements to indicate that.
We have no quarrel over that. It is good to be ambitious. However, there are rules and conventions guiding the joint ownership.
Few days ago, Aina said Osun State had contributed over N27bn to LAUTECH since inception. How much has Oyo contributed?
I speak for the State Governor of Osun, not that of Oyo. Let me, however, add that the institution too will be in a better position to address that adequately.
If the situation persists, what will the Osun government do?
Well, since we have set up our panel, I will not want to be seen as pre-empting the outcome.
What must the Oyo state government do, if it wants sole ownership of LAUTECH?
Oyo State Government should go and study the edict that established the school very well. It should study the Supreme Court judgement, too. Again, it should equally study the National University Commission panel’s report on the matter. Four, I am also aware that there is a document called the framework on how the institution’s divorce can be effected. I will implore the Government of Oyo State to take its time to study and digest clearly and faithfully, all agreements pertaining to the LAUTECH issue. I believe those agreements will help the state to see the LAUTECH case truthfully and unmistakably. I am convinced that all these documents will help it take an informed position on the matter.
Osun State is often accused of not fulfilling its financial obligations to the university. How true is that?
I have addressed this matter, again and again. And I want to say for the umpteenth time that it is a product of misinformation because the rotational six-month arrangement collapsed as far back as 2013, when Oyo State stopped funding the LAUTECH Teaching Hospital, Osogbo, whereas Osun is funding both the university in Ogbomoso and the Teaching Hospital in Osogbo. Therefore, I will rather say, it is the Oyo State government that has not been fulfilling its financial obligations to LAUTECH simply because it has a general hospital. It is now calling a teaching hospital in Ogbomoso. This edifice is alien to the joint ownership agreement of LAUTECH, as a teaching hospital.
Which state benefits more from TETFUND projects in the university?
The bulk of the infrastructure of the university is located in Ogbomoso. Seven of the eight faculties are located in Ogbomoso alone, while only one is located in Osun. So, on that score, I think your guess is as good as mine.
What do you think is the solution to the crisis?
What is required is sincerity of purpose. It is for the two states to sit down and chart a way forward. This politics of propaganda and blackmail won’t help anybody. Our Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, a responsible and responsive leader, has demonstrated his commitment to having that kind of a discussion. The ball is in the court of our brothers and neighbours in Oyo State.
In a swift reaction, Oyo said “Osun is not ready to finance LAUTECH again.
The Commissioner for Information in Oyo State, Dr Wasiu Olatunbosun, cleared the air on the position of the state government on the ownership crisis bedevilling Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso in an interview with WALE OYEWALE
At what point did the relationship between Osun and Oyo get strained?
From our own end, we don’t have anything against Osun but what really disturbed us was the attitude of Osun to fulfilling its financial commitment to LAUTECH. At a point in time, they agreed that from January to June, Oyo State would pay the LAUTECH staff while the salary of LAUTECH Teaching Hospital from July to December would be paid by the Osun State Government. We have a teaching hospital in Osogbo and we have one in Ogbomoso.
At a point in time, the Osun State House of Assembly passed a law during the time of Rauf Aregbesola that henceforth, they should not pay to LAUTECH Ogbomoso, but that they should be giving subvention to their teaching hospital in Osogbo while Oyo should be paying for the teaching hospital in Ogbomoso. That was when they started reneging. That brought about accumulated arrears to be paid to LAUTECH (university), Ogbomoso. So, at one point we felt that if they were no longer interested let us sit down and discuss. In fact, the National Universities Commission sent a team to look at the possibility of asset sharing and NUC agreed that anybody that is no longer interested should be allowed to go. That is the situation. We have been paying as and when due. We said if you are no longer interested, let us sit down and talk. They inaugurated their own committee and we did the same thing as well. What we are waiting for is the outcome of the two committees for us to know which way forward.
You said the Seyi Makinde administration has not owed LAUTECH but past governments in the state did?
We are not disputing that. During recession, the state government under the last administration reviewed subvention to tertiary institutions in the state. That has been counted as backlog which we believe is the responsibility of Oyo State Government to bear. We have been forthcoming on the payment of the backlog but the Osun State has not been forthcoming. That is the issue.
Can you give us an idea of the amount the Oyo State government is owing?
I don’t have it now and I would not like to quote a figure that is not authentic.
What actually is the cause of the strain?
LAUTECH started having issues when Osun State established its state university. I think Osun State has come clear to say that they are ready to part ways if Oyo is ready to meet the conditions. I think the issue of if Osun is not ready does not arise at this point unless Osun State is talking from both sides of the mouth. With what we heard about two weeks ago, they said they were interested in the negotiation. Initially they didn’t cooperate but I think now they have realised that they would find it difficult to continue giving subvention to LAUTECH.
But since the advent of Makinde’s administration, he had been clear on his interest to let Oyo State take over the ownership of the school fully. Why?
f you are in partnership with someone and the person is not forthcoming it behoves on Governor Seyi Makinde to take proactive step. They should let us know so that we can severe the relationship. That was what the governor said then. It is not as if he made up his mind to do that from the beginning.
Is it true that problem started when former governor Adebayo Alao-Akala built another teaching hospital in Ogbomoso, which many said it was a plan by Oyo State to take over the university fully?
I think that the issue started from Governor Rashidi Ladoja when he said if people from the Ogbomoso zone are sick, it would be difficult for them to go to Osogbo for treatment. For instance, consider somebody coming from Kishi. So, why can’t we have a hospital here in Ogbomoso, too?
Get in touch with the university community, get in touch with the chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities as well as the chairman of the Non Academic Staff Union of Universities in, they would give you the exact situation. If you ask again, my stand would not change. That is how you can know the truth about the whole thing. They would say the truth. With that you will be able to know who is lying between Osun and Oyo state.
Would the fate of LAUTECH not be better if the two states give it better funding?
You cannot force two parties into a relationship. The body language of Osun State has shown clearly that they are not willing and ready to finance the institution. We are running a populist government in Oyo State, they (Osun State) are not running same. Go and check how much they pay at the Osun State University. You will marvel at those who call themselves progressives. Osun State University is out of the reach of the poor. If you are saying that they should go and increase the Internally Generated Revenue, indirectly what you are saying is that the university should go and increase the tuition fees. That will be a burden to indigent students who are coming from poor homes. There is nothing bad in us coming together, but the body language of Osun State Government has shown that they are not interested.
What you are saying is that by the time LAUTECH is fully owned by Oyo State, the tuition and other fees would still be kept low?
It will now depend on the policy of any government in power. If the government in power is a populist government, it would not have cause to increase the fees. For instance, check how much they are paying at The Polytechnic, Ibadan now and compare with that of Iree Polytechnic or Esa Oke Polytechnic both in Osun State, you will see the difference and you will understand what I am saying. It is a matter of ideology and principle of the two partners.
Osun and Oyo states are at the round-table fine-tuning the process on whether or not to cede the University to Oyo?
We have set up our committee. They have set up theirs as well for us to negotiate. So they are still negotiating. What comes out from the negotiation will determine which way we are going.
If the deal goes fine and Oyo is able to pay off, what would be the fate of the Osun State indigenes working at LAUTECH?
I don’t see anything happening there. I think it would be part of what they are going to discuss. When we get to the river, we would know how to cross it.
While in office, former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala said that he would not sack anybody from Osun if the university was ceded to Oyo State. Has this changed?
That is what I am saying that when we get there we would know what to do. I don’t want to be quoted as saying that they would do this or not. I don’t want a situation where what I would say would run contrary to the committee’s decision. So, it depends on their negotiation and the outcome of their meeting.
Notwithstanding where the pendulum swings, how would the owner states ensure students of the institution don’t suffer bad fate as a result of closure or interrupted academic calendar again?
Let’s wait for them. Definitely, if the joint ownership continues, they are going to fashion out how there would be harmonious relationship. But for now, I don’t want to pre-empt their actions.
Can we say that LAUTECH has one teaching hospital or two as things stand?
LAUTECH has two teaching hospitals of course. While one is in Ogbomoso, another one is in Osogbo. Therefore, we have two teaching hospitals.