The ownership crisis of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) began between the Osun and Oyo States and generated to a level, of which one would think it would never end.
It was clear when the crisis started that the ousted administration of Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola of Osun succumbed to temptation of Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, the then governor Oyo State without any of them considering the interest of the people of their states or the vision of the forefathers, who saw the need to establish the institution to maintain unity and oneness between the two states.
The action of the duo on the institution boils down to the fact that a problem had been created for the two states.
However, the two states of Oyo and Osun States under the present administration of Governor Abiola Ajimobi and Mr Rauf Aregbesola have restored the unity, by restating the sustenance of the joint ownership of the state and that alone shows the sense of selfishness and interest in personal aggrandizement of the two ousted governors. The settlement between the two sister-states has indeed restored the unity that had been lost among the indigenes of the states. This is indeed a resurgence of problem solvers.
The unity started fading sometimes in 2010, when Alao-Akala declared that Oyo State was no longer interested in the joint ownership of the university with Osun. Since then, the students of the university, especially the medical students, who were based at the Teaching Hospital, Osogbo of the university have been the major victims of traumatic experience inflicted on them by the crisis. The workers who were indigenes of Osun were not spared as they underwent trauma as well.
Following the declaration by the then Ogbomoso-born governor of Oyo State, there was an order that the workers of the institution who were indigenes of the state, but posted to work in Osogbo should return to the newly-constructed Teaching Hospital in Ogbomosho and that was when the indigenes of the two states started taking the issue with seriousness.
When Alao-Akala came up with his traumatic declaration, Oyinlola initially acted as if he wanted the sustenance of the oneness between the two states and in the face of it, he resisted the attempt by his Oyo State counterpart to create problems for the students and workers of the institution. Later, it was clear that his action was a mere pretence.
The situation started reaching its ugly head when Alao-Akala ordered the forceful removal of the then Vice-Chancellor of the university, Professor Babatunde Benjamin who is an indigene of Osun and replaced him with Professor Olanrewaju Nasar, who was said to be an indigene of Ogbomoso, where Alao-Akala also hails from.
By the arrangement, every year, Osun would run the affairs of the institution and pay salaries of workers for six months, while Oyo will do the same for the remaining six months of the year. All these arrangements were frustrated and Akala insisted on ensuring that the institution became the sole property of Oyo State.
At a point, the former President Olusegun Obasanjo called a purported peace parley between the then governors of the two states, but the outcome of the parley showed that the meeting was never planned to achieve any meaningful result. It was clear that the parties in the matter then had politicized the whole arrangement at the detriment of the students, workers of the institution and the entire public of the two states.
After the meeting, Oyinlola kept quiet on the agitation for the sustenance of the joint ownership of the institution and the meaning of this, to an average Osun and Oyo indigene, was that Oyinlola had agreed to leave the institution to be solely owned by Oyo State. This alone also justified the claim from many quarters that the ousted governor had sold the institution to Oyo State.
Sequel to Oyinlola’s silence, things became worse, as the students began to protest the crisis between the two states, which they claimed, badly affected their academic activities in the institution. The academic period of the students, especially those in Osogbo who were under their clinical training that would qualify them as medical doctors became a prolonged matter and despite the pleas from different quarters, no hope was in sight for them as things continued to fall apart.
Infact, at a time the crisis nearly degenerated into a war among the indigenes of the two states when the indigenes of Osun were reportedly attacked, beaten blue-black and were forced to return to Osun State where they hailed from. With this again, it showed that the division had come between the two sister states based on this crisis. No doubt, the brotherhood trait was no longer in existence.
Shortly after November 27, 2010 when the present administration under Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola took over the mantle of leadership in the state, the hope of the students and workers who are indigenes of the state were restored, when the governor declared that as much as the law creating LAUTECH was still in existence, the institution would continue to be the joint patrimony of the two states until thy kingdom come.
As someone who believes in the rule of law, Aregbesola directed that a suit be filed before a court of law, seeking an order restraining Professor Nasar from parading himself as the Vice-chancellor of the institution and restore Professor Adeleke as the authentic V-C of the university and that the institution remains the joint property of the two states until there is any contrary agreement. The order was granted, but despite that, Alao-Akala was adamant and insisted that he was no longer interest in the joint ownership, even without following due process.
Despite the legal approach introduced to the issue, the resolution was still not in sight until after May 29, 2011 when a person of like minds with Aregbesola, who wants the sustenance of unity among the two states took over the mantle of leadership in Oyo State. Senator Abiola Ajimobi became the governor of the state and the story started changing for the better.
Though, the ownership crisis was not resolved immediately, the clinical students, who were supposed to have graduated from the institution since 2010, but were denied due to the crisis, were given headways, as they were ordered to return to Osogbo for the completion of their programmes.
However, Thursday, October 6, 2011 was a remarkable day in the history of the institution and of the two sister states, when the two governors sat down, found a lasting solution to the crisis and restored the already-lost unity between the two states by retaining the joint ownership of the institution.
Rather than creating crisis for the medical students of the university, who were at Osogbo Teaching Hospital and the newly-constructed Ogbomosho Teaching Hospital, the two states agreed to operate the two teaching hospitals under the joint ownership with a view to further sustaining the peaceful coexistence between the two states.
The initiation of the crisis under the ousted administrations, which had nearly destroyed the unity between the two states and the resurgence of unity facilitated under the present administration in the two states have clearly defined the sense of leadership qualities between the immediate past and present governors in the two states.
Quoting from the words of Governor Ajimobi, who addressed the press after the final peace parley between the two states on the ownership crisis, he said, “LAUTECH is a university established by our founding fathers, who saw the need to have a university belonging to the two states. It is our heritage and it will continue to be. The out-gone governors or governments of Oyo and Osun States tried to separate or even cannibalize the university, but we, that are not destroyers or bastards decided not to allow this to happen”.
This indeed is a big statement and it expected to be sustained.
Glory be to God, the crisis had eventually been put to rest, but I think it is important for the Houses of Assembly in the two states to back the resolution between the two states up with laws, with a view to preventing a similar crisis in the future. One might not know who will be in the saddle of leadership tomorrow and that is why it is necessary, in my view to make such law for the sustenance of unity, which was the aim of the forefathers of the two sister states.
It is my prayer that God will continue to put in positions of leadership, those that will be pursuing the interest of the people and unity between the two states and beyond as done on the issue of LAUTECH.
See you soon!Osun Defender