It is appropriate to confess from the start that I am emotionally attached to Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso. Apart from cutting my academic teeth there in 2000 as a young don, LAUTECH left fond memories in me such that I am greatly distressed by the tragedy that has befallen the unique University.
When I had to leave LAUTECH and its wonderful staff and students barely a year after I joined its system, it was deeply emotional for me but I realised that my future was elsewhere. LAUTECH students were ready to learn and friendly. The spirit of academic camaraderie and religious brotherhood at the faculty and the Community levels was marvelous. How I loved LAUTECH!
However, for some time now, LAUTECH, which had won the best state university in Nigeria for three consecutive years, has known no reprieve. The only university that is co-owned by two states in Nigeria, the first blow to hit it in recent years was when two governors in opposing parties deepened tension until brothers and sisters were at “war” with those who do not hail from Oyo State told to go to Osun State. It was one nonsense taken too far and the university started to cave in.
When the two states later came under the leadership of the same political party, there were high expectations that the problems confronting the institution would be solved by the two Governors. Being students of the same political school, staff and students thought both Oyo and Osun State Governments would be able to find a lasting solution to the perennial funding crisis.
They were wrong. Like J. P. Clark’s “Abiku”, LAUTECH crisis has been “coming and going these several seasons.” Indeed, all efforts to rescue the situation, including demonstrations in Ibadan and Osogbo by the embattled students, have not yielded desired results as staff salaries are not paid for several months and students are wasting away. Like Wole Soyinka’s “Abiku” too, LAUTECH seems to say to the solutions proffered so far: “In vain your bangles cast charmed circles at my feet.”
For students, their parents, staff and the entire LAUTECH community, it has been a tragedy of overwhelming proportions as the situation remains dire. In specific terms, the human cost of the current situation is huge. Students of the University have been committing suicide out of despair. A student lost his sanity recently due to frustration. While the devil has a field day occupying the minds of many male students with crime, it is reported that some female students have been aborting pregnancies as if it is the latest fashion in town. Within the last two years, I learnt, 23 staff of the University have died due to unspeakable agony.
As a way of addressing the situation, as those who should take responsibility are not showing much concern, afterall their children are schooling abroad, the Alumni Association of the institution has taken the bull by the horns by going on crowd funding. On June 12, 2017, the body launched the #Fundlautech campaign with an ambitious goal of raising N1 billion in 90 days. He who dares wins; this intervention is commendable and Nigerians are urged to contribute to it, please.
All alumni of the University, friends, former staff of the University and all people of good will should not be left out. Saving LAUTECH now is saving education; funding LAUTECH now is saving humanity. Hopes are being stifled. Futures are being ruined. Yet, Nero is fiddling as Rome is burning.
The implication of the LAUTECH situation is the need for public universities to be proactive. As Martin Luther King once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Public universities should seriously reflect on the perennial funding threat and determine their survival strategies if and when people in government fail to fund them fully or partly as we now witness.
There is no doubt about it: proper planning prevents poor performance.
Re: Remember Rwanda!
Thank you, Dr, for your write-up today. You are indeed a progressive mind that wants the unity of Nigeria. Best wishes ahead. - Matt Enejo, Abuja.
If anybody doesn’t want Rwanda episode, they should allow us to break up and go our separate ways. Let Biafra go, let Oodua go, let the Ijaws go, let the Ogonis go and let Arewa be. Peace and truth’ll reign. Remember Russia, Bosnia, Yugoslavia, Southern Sudan, Eritrea, etc. Thanks. - Gbenga
You hate war but you did not recommend appropriate measures for peace to reign. Do you like it that one section of the country is taking advantage of the others? There will be no peace in this country until justice reigns. Thanks. - TDO, Port Harcourt.