Berating Aregbesola, Ajimobi on LAUTECH: “You can’t have your cake and eat it”
By Fatola Abdullahi…
We unequivocally condemn first, the actions of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) towards the protest embarked upon by the students of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) on 9th December, 2016. They were reportedly shooting at the students sporadically and tear-gasing them, Are Police really our friends like they portray themselves?.
Prior to that, a duplicated scenerio was recorded during the last peaceful protest organized by students of the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta (FUNAAB) when a student was shot in the eye as a result of either the carelessness or intentional act displayed by the security agent in question. We urge all security agencies to employ more civil means in containing subsequent student protests so far they are orchestrated with peace.
The academic and non-academic activities on LAUTECH campuses had been on halt for over six months while students and the members of staff have been victims of the paralyzed activities. The industrial action began June 9, 2016 when the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU) protested their outstanding salaries yet to be paid by the two state governments managing the institution.
The students and workers of the university had been suffering from the inability of the Oyo state and State of Osun to release funds to cater for the workers’ earnings. More importantly, student’s academic career had been at stake leaving them confused on the next stage of life to mount with the bachelor’s degree study still pending.
The fear of any-time strike suspension or call off holds grip on many students from venturing into another stage of life and as the Nigerian labour market had been programmed, without Higher National Diploma (HND) certificate or Bachelor’s Degree Certificate and National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) certificate you can’t find a manageable job except for those with entrepreneural skills who have capital to fuel their self-reliant businesses.
Furthermore, The Nations news conducted an interview, reported by Daniel Oladele and featuring students of LAUTECH, where a 300-Level student, who simply gave her name as Adeife, lamented about the strike, saying: “This strike has not helped anyone. I only wake up and do nothing all day in the last six months. There is nowhere to engage in temporary work, because of the economic situation in the country. One is in fact not productive. I can’t even remember anything I was taught. I see my mates in other schools moving to the next level and I am stuck at a level for more than a year.”
Consecutively, in 2003, the institution was ranked best state university in Nigeria by the Nigerian University Commission (NUC) and it retained the position in 2004. Ever since then, the students of this prestigious institution had been representing the university home and abroad returning back in flying colours.
Sequel to a resolution reached in a meeting to resolve the joint ownership crisis of the institution on Wednesday 19th October, 2016, a communique was drafted and agreed upon in the presence of Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo state and his Osun State counterpart, Governor Abdul-Rauf Aregbesola with their deputies and other government officials from each state .
The communiqué thus read in part, as reported by Daily Post news on 20th October, 2016, that “The meeting also agreed on the necessity for a comprehensive restructuring of the institution to ensure fair and effective development and distribution of academic resources, physical structures and assets of the University across the two states in order to achieve national, regional and global reckoning.
Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) had been recieving excellent global appraisal for a long time, not to mention national and regional reckoning, nevertheless they still yearn to improve the status quo and as well “to be a centre of academic excellence and a training ground for productive, self employable, self sustaining and self reliant individuals passing through it” as enshrined in the university’s mission statement.
The two state Governors in-charge, resolved in the extract of the communique stated above to restructure the institution in order to achieve national, regional and global reckoning while till date the school is still on industrial action paralyzing all activities on its campuses.
The Governors “cannot have the cake and still eat it”, it is either they find a sustainable solution to the crisis befalling the school by funding the institution and its workforce as soon as possible to preserve its glory or jeopardize their vision to preserve and upgrade the university’s reputation and academic excellence in reckoning, home and abroad as embedded in the joint ownership meeting resolution.
Therefore, it will be in the best interest of Nigerians to resolve the cause of the industrial action with none of the two parties (Students and workers) being victimised or caused to suffer for the strike after its being called off or suspended.
As this pen is being laid down, we urge Nigerians home and abroad to rally round the students and staffs of the university even if it was not our alma mater. Many of us once experienced an indefinite strike during our school days which is enough to know how it feels to be sent home (half-baked) out of their will and waiting endlessly to accomplish the bachelor’s degree when other colleagues whom they matriculated the same year in other institutions have graduated or are at least one year ahead of them.