7 August 2010

Nigeria: Peace at Last As Oyo, Osun Sheath Swords Over LAUTECH

Ibadan — Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso (LAUTECH) community is eagerly awaiting the appointment of a new vice chancellor following the resolution of the tussle between the joint owners - Oyo and Osun State governments.

The tussle that lasted several months had put the future of about 25,000 students of the university of jeopardy as the National Universities Commission, NUC, threatened mid-July to withdraw the institution's licence if the problem was not resolved in two weeks. The appointment of the vice chancellor by a committee is part of the crisis resolution terms of a parley initiated by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade. The committee is also to submit a report on peaceful resolution of the crisis.

When the process that led to the establishment of the LAUTECH was started in 1987 by the then military governor, Colonel Adetunji Olurin, as he then was, it was done so that the old Oyo State could be proud owner of a university of its own.

And since Osun was carved out of the state in 1991, the two states had related like Siamese twins until the tussle over the ownership of the institution erupted. It started when Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala of Oyo State suggested that the joint ownership should be severed. His request met a stiff resistance from his Osun State counterpart, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, who argued that his state would not let go of a property that was to serve as a unifying force between the two states.

While Osun stuck to its gun that it would not allow what it considered as a slap on its face, Oyo said the controversy remained unduly prolonged because of the failure of Osun to allow empirical facts to determine and influence its actions and decisions on the dispute.

Oyo State argued that LAUTECH was established by Oyo State Edict of 23 April 1990 but that after Osun State was excised from old Oyo State, an amendment was brought to the edict in 1999 by the military administrator of Oyo State, Compol Amen Edore Oyakhire.

"The said amendment was not jointly signed by the military administrators of Oyo and Osun States . This is because no two states can jointly enact a law or amend it. Ipso facto, the university cannot be jointly owned by the two states since it was not established by a charter but by Oyo State Law (Edict)".

Oyo stated that joint ownership of a university has no parallel anywhere in this country, giving an example of old Ondo State from which Ekiti State was carved out.

It claimed that the funding of all capital projects in the main campus at Ogbomoso was provided by it while Osun picked up the bills for the infrastructural development in Osogbo.

Oyo said another factor that called for the separation was the unilateral decision of Osun to establish its own state university.

Once Osun created its own university, Oyo noted, the partnership began to experience cracks when in spite of a firm assurance by Osun that its commitment to LAUTECH would not be affected as a result of the birth of the new institution.

As if to compound the problem, Oyo announced that the vice-chancellor, Professor B. Adeleke, had been sacked and replaced with Professor Nasir, the rector of the Polytechnic, Ibadan.

While complaining of lopsidedness in the appointment of personnel in the institution, it said, "as far back as January, 2010, Osun denied an Oyo State indigene, Dr. Gbola Adetunji, assumption of duty as chairman, LAUTECH Teaching Hospital Board". Oyo added that another indigene of the state was also denied the right to take over as Director of Administration of LAUTECH Teaching Hospital, Osogbo.

But, Oyinlola, through his Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Lasisi Olagunju, faulted all the claims as he gave a comprehensive and statistics of how appointments were made since the inception of the institution.

He explained that Oyo was just making false allegations it was guilty of. The case had been taken to court by Osun before the intervention of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, who asked the two owner states to sheathe their swords.

At the peace meeting, it was agreed that an acting VC would be appointed by a committee set up and the committee would submit a report on peaceful resolution of the crisis. While mediating in the crisis in a two-hour meeting on Sunday in Osogbo, Sijuwade appealed to the two feuding parties to calm their nerves.

The meeting had in attendance the two governors and the permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Prof Oladapo Afolabi.

Mr. Adebayo Adedayo, a 400 level chemistry student of LAUTECH, said the crisis had taken its toll on students whose duration of studies must be extended because of the time they have wasted at home. He stressed that he would have graduated in September if not for the crisis.

While the crisis lasted, many people were wondering why the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which produced Oyo and Osun State governors, did not wade into the crisis and call them to order.

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