The plethora of commentaries and armchair analyses on the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, (LAUTECH) unfortunate crisis is as interesting as it is unpleasant. The situation, no doubt, presents some sworn critics the opportunity of showcasing their unwarranted disdain for the workings of the governments of Oyo and Osun, the proprietors of the institution under reference. Inciting statements and related diatribes that are impertinent to the issue at hand are being freely and maliciously employed to disparage Governors Abiola Ajimobi and Rauf Aregbesola of Oyo and Osun States respectively, as Visitors to the university. The development has presented elements from otherwise comatose and dead opposition political parties in the two states the opportunity to yell at and condemn the perceived ineptitude of the proprietors at resolving the imbroglio, which portends serious dangers for the future of the students of the great institution.
It is even more amazing that some of these critics, who once had the opportunity to administer the university directly and indirectly, shouted louder in the unfair condemnation of the owner-state governments, instead of burying their heads in shame for largely contributing to the sorry state of the institution by their actions and inactions. I am particularly disappointed about the negative attitude of one of the uninformed commentators who alluded to ethnic coloration and introduced same to the whole harrowing episode. He reasoned that LAUTECH at Ogbomoso is now being deliberately replaced by The Technical University, Ibadan.
This sordid dimension is a reflection of how myopic and confusing the thoughts and feelings of some supposedly educated and influential people could be in this kind of situation. Such unfortunate outburst is capable of fanning the embers of ethnic disaffection between the indigenes of Ogbomoso and Ibadan if this person had not been well known for such divisive antics long before this time. He compounded his ignorance of the whole scenario when he made a veiled reference to what he called the deliberate unwillingness of the two owner-states to make public an alleged agreement that once ceded the ownership of the University to Oyo State. He further claimed that the agreement was allegedly signed by ex-Governors Adebayo Alao-Akala of Oyo and Chief Olagunsoye Oyinlola of Osun, in a litigation involving the two owner-states at the Supreme Court. The said agreement was at the instance of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. I doubt if this person is aware that such a paper that has no ingredient of endorsement in the court registry or Justice Department is not valid and as such inadmissible as an exhibit in the court of law.
The present poor state of LAUTECH is a direct consequence of the gross mismanagement of the university’s resources over the years from what I found out. The successive administrations of the institution had failed woefully to do the needful in making the institution self-sustaining, viable and independent. Aside from the fact that the university has an over-bloated workforce, some insiders claimed that expenses on imprest, estacodes and other sundry allowances are normally accorded priority over statutory payment of the staff salaries and allowances. Keeping and operating 97 bank accounts by the university, some of which are said to have closed shop with the university’s funds therein entrapped, is not healthy for the growth of the university. It amounts to sheer wastage. It is mindboggling that the university which collects regular subventions from the governments, rakes in school fees from the students (regular and part-time) and research grants from the Non-Governmental Organizations could be run aground. In my own view, the pervasive inadequacies in the university system are part of the reasons the labour unions were said to have blocked the auditors hired by the governments to carry out forensic audit of the institution from carrying out their duties. One of the findings is that the university is still operating manual accounting systems up till now. It is equally worrisome to note that the audit reports on the university’s finances for the years 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 are not ready.
With the discovery of all these inadequacies that impeded the smooth administration of the great institution and consequently precipitated the ongoing crisis, I am of the conviction that the destructive critic under reference could not have resorted to “argurmentun ad hominien”, but for his complete consumption by fires of hatred against Governors Abiola Ajimobi and Rauf Aregbesola respectively. Pretending to be championing or promoting primordial interests in this kind of situation can only be self-serving. It is capable of generating unnecessary heat in the polity.
What moral justification could be alluded to the workers’ action preventing the governments’ forensic auditors from carrying out their duties? They were definitely wrong to have acted the dog in a manger. It is crystal clear and regrettable that there exists a cabal within the university workforce that is hell-bent on sabotaging the efforts of the owner-state governments and well meaning Nigerians at resolving the crisis once and for all.
One can only take solace in the fact that the matter shall soon be amicably resolved by the university’s Governing Council that has just been constituted. The Council, no doubt, consists of erudite scholars and administrators with proven track records of efficiency in crisis management. It is my candid opinion that the blame for the pitiable state of the institution cannot be wholly placed at the doorsteps of the owner-states, but the university management that created the bulk of the crisis. So, the critics should take note of this.
It is pertinent at this juncture to postulate that forensic auditing and proper screening exercises of the university personnel must be carried out with the objective of moving the institution out of the present crisis.
The outcome of the exercises shall avail the owner-governments the unique opportunity of taking concrete steps to normalize the situation and make improvements. The university management should embark on austerity measures to conserve funds, viz; suspension of imprest accounts, embargo of payment salaries to staff on sabbatical leave, conduction of nominal staff promotion exercise till the university can stand on its own, etc.
Blocking all the financial leakages shall undoubtedly reinvigorate the financial strength of the institution. The Osun State government should also try to complement the efforts of its counterpart in Oyo that has been meeting up with its financial obligations to the university on a regular basis. Even in the face of recession, and in the midst of this crisis, Oyo State Government is said to have still deemed it imperative to release the subvention of over N150million to the university. Although Oyo State had slashed the subvention to the university by more than half, it is noteworthy that it has not reneged on paying the amount it promised the university. Moreover, the labour unions in the university, as stakeholders, should allow the government auditors to carry out their assignments without further delay. We cannot afford to be stagnant and expect miracles in this circumstance.
Today, the pseudo-patriots should rise above sheer pettiness and partisan interest to contribute their genuine quota to the resolution of the problems at hand. They should refrain from making inflammatory statements capable of misleading the members of public and pitching them against the owner state governments.