A critique of the Oyo-Osun short-term panacea to LAUTECH’s imbroglio

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Here’s why LAUTECH deserves much more than NGN500 million

The decision of LAUTECH students to take their protest to Governor Abiola Ajimobi resulted in the governor’s decision to make public what he and his Osun state counterpart, Rauf Aregbesola, have concluded to do – and it doesn’t look good in the long term.

According to the governor, Osun and Oyo states are going to pool together the sum of NGN500 million – NGN250 million apiece – for the academic institution. The governor described the initiative as a lifeline to defray the salary arrears of the striking academic and non-academic members of the college.

The governor confidently said normalcy would return to the college latest by early next month given the level of commitments by the stakeholders to ensure that the crisis came to an end.

Ajimobi said: “The crux of the matter is that government lacks fund. I’m sure all of you are aware of the mounting financial difficulties confronting the country, in which we have a fair share. But nevertheless, we (Oyo and Osun states) have reached a solid agreement on how to contribute funds to start with.

“We are contributing an initial N250million each as allocation to LAUTECH to achieve the set goal of getting the university reopened. This is in continuation of our continuous search for every opportunity to improve education standards in Oyo State.

“We have given instructions that the school must be reopened before the end of this month come rain or shine. But you must know that part of education is what they call civic responsibility and tomorrow leadership is about being good observers of rule of law today.”

Here’s why I’m concerned

I have a couple of questions and concerns. It is understandably sensational for the governor to say NGN500 million but what, in actual sense, can the sum do? Is it enough to completely offset all the unpaid salaries? I don’t think it will be enough but even if it is enough, what happens when the money is exhausted – will the school be shut again for months before the students will protest and cause mayhem before money is contributed and peace is allowed to return to the institution?

I believe LAUTECH has been shut for so long that think tanks in Oyo and Osun should have been able to forge long-lasting deals that will permanently put an end to all forms of semester punctuations at the institution. Furthermore, the institution also has several experts that could recommend ways to make the institution to be self sufficient.

I have something on my mind though and I think we should all consider it with an open mind. If all that LAUTECH needs to resolve its crisis, then what happened to the money the students are paying as school fees? Considering the number of LAUTECH students, I believe they will be making more than that.

Beyond the school fees, I strongly believe that LAUTECH and several other tertiary institutions in Oyo state and across the country are not fully maximizing their revenue generation potentials and capacities.

I teach in a private university and I strongly believe that government-owned institutions have a lot to learn from universities like ours. They need to look beyond just increasing school fees and consider other avenues instead. There are several of such only that government-owned institutions are reluctant to aggressively pursue revenue generation – while those ones making returns are also prone to sabotage and embezzlement among others. But I strongly believe that a good government can totally fix all that.

So, instead of just tasking each other with the responsibility of raising NGN500 million that will be exhausted as soon as it is pooled together, Governors Ajimobi and Aregbesola could give LAUTECH something much better, financial independence.

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