LAUTECH crisis and the pseudo-patriots By Akeem Adebiyi

The plethora of commentaries and armchair analysis on the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, (LAUTECH) unfortunate crisis is as interesting and unpleasant. The situation, no doubt, presents some sworn critics the opportunity to showcase 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 to yell at and condemn the perceived ineptitude of the proprietors at resolving the imbroglio, which portends serious dangers to 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 states government, 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 with the negative attitude of one of the uninformed commentators who alluded to ethnic coloration and introduced same to the whole harrowing episode. The fellow 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. That the said agreement was at the instance of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. I doubt if the fellow 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 or viably independent. Aside from the fact that the university has an over bloated workforce, some insiders claim that expenses on imprest, estacodes and other sundry allowances are normally accorded priorities  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 mind boggling 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 why 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 reveals 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 respectively are not ready.

With the discovery of all these inadequacies that have impeded the smooth administration of the of the great institution and which had consequently precipitated the lingering crisis, I am of the conviction that the critic under reference could not have resorted to “argumentun 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 a feat of a demagogue in this kind of situation, can only be self-serving. It is capable of generating unnecessary heat in polity.

What moral justification can explain the workers’ action of preventing the governments’ forensic auditors from carrying out their duties? They were definitely wrong to have acted as dogs in a manger. It is crystal clear and regrettable too,  that there exists a cabal within  the university workforce that is hell bent in 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 once as for all by the University’s Governing Council that has just been constituted. The council, no doubt, consist of erudite scholars and administrators with proven track records of efficiency in crisis management. It is my candid opinion that the whole blame regarding the pitiable state of the institution cannot be wholly placed at the doorsteps of the owner states, but, the university management that created 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 exercise of the university personnel must be carried out with the objective of moving the university out of the present crisis. The outcome of the exercise shall avail the owner governments the unique opportunity of taking concrete steps aimed at normalizing the situation and make improvements. The university management should embark on austerity measures to conserve funds. This includes suspension of imprest accounts, embargo on paying salaries to staff on sabbatical leave, nominal staff promotion exercise till the university can stand on its own, etc.

Blocking all the financial leakages will 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 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 naira 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 as solutions to the problems at hand. They should refrain from making inflammatory statements capable of misleading the members of public and pitching same against the owner state governments.

 

  • Akeem sent in this piece from Ibadan.

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