Tuesday, November 26, 2019 11:49 pm
Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State has announced the increment of the state’s education budget by 20 per cent in 2020 as well as the approval of N500 million subvention to LAUTECH to address the demands of its workforce.
The Governor, who announced the decision while speaking at a consultative meeting with stakeholders at the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, LAUTECH, Ogbomoso, said that in 2020, Oyo State would devote 20 per cent of its budget to education.
According a statement signed by Taiwo Adisa, one of the media aides to the governor, N500 million will be released to LAUTECH as soon as the authority in conjunction with other relevant stakeholders of the institution submit a written agreement to the governor’s office on how the funds would be disbursed.
Governor Makinde is one of the two Visitors to the institution jointly owned by Oyo and Osun states.
According to the Governor, the visit to the University, which has been enmeshed in labour crisis over its joint ownership, was with a view to seeing things first-hand and ascertaining the situation in the institution ahead of the inauguration of the Oyo State’s committee on the ownership crisis.
He maintained that he would inaugurate the Oyo State’s committee on Wednesday November 26, 2019, which would work with its Osun State counterpart on how to resolve the University’s crisis, noting that in line with his promise during the electioneering period, his government would find a lasting solution to the LAUTECH crisis.
He further maintained his committed to adequate funding of the institution as well as ensuring the stability of its academic calendar, arguing that the perennial problems facing the institution was as a result of its joint ownership between Oyo and Osun States.
The Governor, however, maintained that though the issue of joint ownership has muddled things up, the aspiration of his government remained that LAUTECH would be counted among the best in the world, urging people not to exercise fears over their jobs or what would become of them, as he assured that Oyo and Osun states would resolve the matter as brothers.
He stated, “The reason government exists is to enable the people to benefit from the dividends of democracy. On the issue of joint ownership of LAUTECH, there is no family in Oyo State that does not have a linkage with Osun State. Formerly, all of us are under Oyo State. I have appealed to the management of this institution that we should not go towards xenophobic issues. Osun and Oyo States are brothers and sisters. My wish for LAUTECH is to compete with the best of institutions in the world. To do that, wherever we can get the best hand, either Osun, Oyo, Ekiti, we don’t mind. So, please let us push aside the issue of Osun and Oyo. Everybody that is working here, irrespective of where you come from, it is the duty of the government to ensure you have job security and get your salary as at when due. On the 25th of every month, which is the GSM Date in Oyo State, they receive their salaries. And very soon, it will be the same for LAUTECH. From ASUU to SSANU, to NASU, we will resolve the issues”.
He continued, “By 9 am tomorrow, I will inaugurate the committee for Oyo State to negotiate with Osun the way forward for LAUTECH. We don’t want to make any mistake and that is the reason why I am here to interact with the stakeholders so that I will to hear from them and I have heard from you loud and clear. I promise that we will move on the path that is sustainable for all the stakeholders of LAUTECH. I listened to NASU, ASUU and other trade unions and learnt that you’re owed salary. I can conveniently claim that I have only been here for almost six months now and that the money you are owed was before my time but I’ll not shy away from my responsibility. We are taking full responsibility for all the things that have happened in the past but we have to chart a sustainable way forward. I listened to the Vice-Chancellor while speaking and learnt that all the money they are owing you is about N6.07bn. It is a lot easier to spend N6bn to establish a new university for Oyo State. Yes, we can do it. Some other people did it. You have heard about Technical University in Ibadan but we are not going to trail that path. For the people of Ogbomosho, LAUTECH is our own Cambridge. It is our own Oxford. It is at the arch of the economy of Ogbomosho and, by extension, Oyo State”.
“The VC has read to us so many achievements from this University but now, we are asking the lecturers and the non-academic workers to deliver on empty stomach. And that is because, in the past, two elephants were fighting but who are those suffering? The people are the ones suffering. But thank God that we are not elephants. But they say ‘a dog that has followers can kill a monkey’. With your support, we will find a lasting solution to the issue of LAUTECH. When we got into government, we met a budget that was signed into law by the previous administration. We saw that the budget was not realistic. So, from the N285bn that was appropriated, we took out over N100bn because there was no way we could get that money. As of the time we took over, the revenue performance was at about 30 per cent. So, we shaved it off and we have lived with that budget till now”.
Speaking on the issue of joint ownership of the institution, Makinde stated that though Oyo State could shoulder the responsibility of funding LAUTECH because his government has lived up to its promise to raise budgetary allocation to education to 20 per cent, it had an engagement with Osun State and negotiations must take place on how to chart a sustainable path for the University.
He said, “But the good news is, tomorrow, I will lay a budget before the State Assembly with, at least, 20 percent for Education. Can Oyo State shoulder the responsibility of sole ownership of LAUTECH? My answer is resounding yes. But we do have a lot of work to do. We have an engagement coming up with our brothers and sisters of the State of Osun. We have negotiations that must take place. We can only get ourselves on that sustainable path if we have your support. This is devoid of politics. I am not playing politics here. The time of politicking has passed. You gave me your mandate and I am exercising it on your behalf. So, there is nothing to politick right now. Politicking will resume in 2022. So, anyone who wants to politick can wait a little bit to start with us again. But in the interim, we have a lot of challenges ahead of us to tackle and getting a solution to the crisis in LAUTECH is one of those challenges we must tackle”.
“I want to solve the problem of ownership before putting a kobo of Oyo State money into this matter. But looking at all of you here, I cannot do that. Christmas is fast approaching and all of us want to go home to celebrate with our families and friends. I will release some money from Oyo State to LAUTECH but under a certain condition. Osun State government claimed it has released N250 million for LAUTECH. It is only the VC that can confirm that. Oyo State will be ready to release, at least, N500 million to LAUTECH. We will only release that money if the leadership of ASUU, SSANU and the rest will come up with an agreement on what they will do with the money. You will get the money immediately you have that agreement. I look forward to it. If the VC can come up with a document where everybody has agreed, we will release the money the day after. Be of good cheer, weeping may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning. For LAUTECH, joy is coming in the morning”, he concluded.
Earlier, students, workers, University management and indigenes of Ogbomoso, among others, representatives of NASU, SSANU and Federating Units of Ogbomoso Indigenes made strong cases for the sole ownership of the institution by Oyo State.
In his remark, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Michael Ologunde expressed delight that Governor Makinde paid a visit to the school so as to assess the situation on ground.
He said,“It is our greatest pleasure to welcome you most heartily to this University which is the best University of Technology and, in Webometric ranking of the world’s renowned assessment organisation, the 7th best in the country. We are sure that it is as a consequence of all these attainments that your passion for the sustainability of this University so as to be able to achieve its pride of place in the comity of universities the world over that you are here. And you are so much concerned and we believe, as I have said earlier, all our concerns and the problems associated with the concerns will disappear today. We are pleased to have you in our midst”.