It was a cheering news when the National University Commission announced that Oyo State now enjoys sole ownership status of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH). Many commentators and even politicians alike celebrated the NUC’s announcement as a major win for the Governor Seyi Makinde administration in Oyo State. Quite true, the new development in LAUTECH is a major win for Oyo State because the dysfunctional system of the status quo ante in that institution had signposted the derelict state of public education in Oyo State for long.
And to be fair to the government in Oyo State, it has tried in the past two years of its saddle to pay appropriate attention to the state’s public education system and it would be in good judgment to add the LAUTECH sole ownership as part of the laurels in Makinde’s kitty.
Be that as it may, whereas before now Oyo State could share the blame of whatever goes wrong in LAUTECH with Osun State, the current reality is that Governor Makinde, by accepting the announcement by NUC and cheers of victory to his government, has elected to place himself under the spotlight for taking full responsibility about whichever direction the ship of that citadel of learning sails. For a governor that has quite a few toxic opposition element, it would be hoped that politicians won’t soon find LAUTECH as an instrument of political mudslinging. For sure, that will be very much counter-intuitive to the gains Oyo State might have harvested in the unfettered control of that institution. LAUTECH had been in the news for every wrong reasons especially during the days of the immediate past administration of Governor Abiola Ajimobi whose unceremonious charge against protesting students of the institution decked him the garb of Mr. Constituted Authority.
Of course, Oyo State has gone past the days of constituted authority and the point being made here is that politicians should have the moral rectitude of not turning LAUTECH into another weapon of political brickbat, which would be against the interest of scholarship in the institution.
Quite remarkably, Governor Makinde has been forthright with ensuring that staff salaries are paid duly and thus far, the institution enjoys relative stability in its administration. The governor should be commended for his inspiring policy of maintaining a functional public education system in Oyo State and it is in the context of this policy that hopes are high that moving forward, LAUTECH is standing sure-footed. More importantly, in this day of technological innovations, government needs to inject more funding into research and development for LAUTECH to have a fair chance of survival in the cutting edge competitiveness among reputable technology universities. In this era of tight fiscal balance sheet, it is very necessary that government expands the frontiers of LAUTECH’s capacity in attracting foreign and local financial and technical support in the area of research and development. Luckily, Governor Makinde already has a reputation for sourcing alternative funding for public infrastructure investment through the private sector and it would be a good development if the governor could apply the same methodology for the need of LAUTECH. One can safely suggest to the management of the institution to give some proposals to the governor along this line.
Now that the Oyo State governor has the sole power of appointing the principal officers of the institution, it is expected that merit would prevail in the nomination process and political alliances would not be the benchmark of appointment into critical managerial positions.
It is a known axiom that to whom much is given much is expected. The management of LAUTECH including the teaching and non-teaching staff, too, must up their game in the new season that heralds the institution. They must reciprocate the good gesture of Governor Makinde in resolving the large part of lingering crises that bedeviled the institution, by ensuring that LAUTECH plays a critical role in the global pursuit of excellence in public education by the current administration. For instance, with this development, students of Oyo State seeking university admission now have a wider window of opportunity to actualize their dreams and it is important that LAUTECH plays its part by ensuring that Oyo State indigenes are given priority in the admission into the university.
Secondly, is that as things stand in LAUTECH as at today, salaries of all carders of workers are being paid as at when due and it beats imagination that academic staff of the institution are partaking in the on-going industrial strike action called by the national body of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). This is the same LAUTECH that had lost a lot of grounds in its academic calendar no thanks to the rascally behaviour of the immediate past government in Oyo State – largely. It is thus high time that lecturers in LAUTECH got their acts together, pull out of the strike action by ASUU and embrace the dream of the Makinde administration of making Oyo State the true center of academic excellence.
Sanni, a public affairs commentator, sent this piece from Jericho estate extension, Ibadan.