When IBB categorically stated that Nigerian youths are incapable of leading, many felt that the outspoken retired General spoke out-of-context. However, with the current travails of the Nigerian youths, it’s evident that they are laden with huge loads that sap them of every ounce of energy, faith, hope and leadership potential. Hence it’s ludicrous for any youth to be thinking of leading the country when he or she is battling with incidences that affect destinies, actions that effect intellectual mutation, circumstances that deflect hopes and occurrences that reflect national failure.
This is the most conceivable way to describe the daily chronicle of students of Ladoke Akintola University, Ogbomoso, no thanks to the ridiculous ways that the muscle-flexing owners are handling the institution. The affected students, parents and workers are presently in a conundrum that is similar to the one that Israelites found themselves in when they faced the Red (Dead) Sea, and had a fumingly angry Pharaoh and his horsemen closing in from behind. Like the helpless descendants of Jacob, the million-dollar question on the lip of every student of LAUTECH is: “Where is Moses?”
The conception of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology began in 1987 when Governor Adetunji Olurin, the then Military Governor of Oyo State, responded to a correspondence from the Governing Council of the Polytechnic Ibadan. He set up a seven-member inter-ministerial committee led by Mrs. Oyinkan Ayoola. The Committee submitted its report in 1988 and recommended the establishment of a state university. A 15-man committee of distinguished academicians under the chairmanship of Professor J. A. Akinpelu was inaugurated to further deliberate on the matter. The committee again retained the earlier verdict of the necessity for a new university in the old Oyo State. Several other committees—notably that of the Archdeacon (Dr) E. O. Alayande,—also deliberated on the viability of an Oyo state university.
After the 1989 Independence Day Celebrations, an inter-ministerial committee that was set up by the military Governor—Col. Sasaenia Adedeji Oresanya—under the amiable leadership of Mrs. Lydia Oyewumi Abimbola (state commissioner for education), conclusively approved the idea and launched the Higher Education Development Appeal Fund for the university. A sum of 19 million Naira was realized in both cash and pledges from the various launching ceremonies that were organized in the state capital and in the 42 Local Government Areas of the old Oyo state. Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola, the chief launcher, donated more than two million Naira.
Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola became the first chancellor in January, 1991. The first meeting of the university’s Governing Council was held on June 7, 1990, the first senate meeting was convened on February 13, 1991, the first academic session began on October 19, 1990 with a total number of 436 candidates who were offered admission to various courses in four faculties —agricultural sciences, environmental sciences, engineering and management sciences, and pure and applied sciences.
Arising from the creation of Osun state from the old Oyo state, the name of the university was changed from Oyo State University of Technology to Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso and the Edict that established the University was appropriately amended. Since then, both states had interchangeably, mutually and reasonably visited and catered for the needs of the university with several laudable laurels to show.
The institution has the best computer science department in the nation, its medical laboratory science programme is second to none, and several products of the university, within the short duration of the institution’s creation, are already national prides hoisting the nation’s flag in several countries of the world. However, the concept of Adetunji Olurin, the old age deliberations of Archdeacon (Dr) E. O. Alayande and the hard earned cash of Bashorun M. K. O. Abiola are about to go up in flames.
In an interview with Tribune Newspapers, Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola claimed that the saga is nothing personal. However he made a statement that pointed otherwise. He said “Someone should tell Akala that when I was a Milad (military administrator), he was just a DPO”. Although this is true, it was out-of-context considering the sensitive nature of the issues at stake, and the fate of more than five thousand students who daily suffer from administration-induced tachycardia. Is this part of the much-talked-about dividends of democracy?
Democracy’s popular definition as “the government of the people, by the people, and for people” shows that leaders are expected to listen to citizens before embarking on any action—sensitive or otherwise—that affect the well being of citizens of the state. The genesis of the current LAUTECH debacle points otherwise. It’s a clear depiction of pursuance of ulterior motives, preservation of personal ego, absurd territorialism, betrayal of trust, disregard of the predicament of the led, literate illiteracy, and retribution of personal grievances.
Without gainsaying, the decision of the Alao Akala-led administration of Oyo state to back out of an arrangement that predates the administration has a political undertone. The popular notion is that the Oyo state government under the leadership of Otunba Alao Akala is planning to create a state university that is solely and entirely owned by the state. Though it’s a welcome idea, hijacking a jointly owned property is not what Oyo state citizens want. However, the governor and his advisers failed to consider this.
The legal aspect of the issue is another indication to the fact that Alao Akala was ill-informed on his steps concerning LAUTECH. I don’t need a Yale law degree to know that having a property under my roof doesn’t make it mine. It is unbelievable that overnight and armed with the state’s House of Assembly’s hurried resolution, the government Oyo state assumed full control of the institution without settling Osun state. Only God knows what the state’s attorney general was thinking.
Apart from the expected legal tussles, how does the Oyo state government intend to successfully operate a university when it is claiming that the load of primary and secondary schools are too much for it to bear? It’s an open secret that teachers in Oyo state are perennially on strike. The Polytechnic Ibadan is also not fairing better. According to the state’s several press releases, the state is literarily broke. How come it now intends to take over the operations of a full fledged university like LAUTECH? Is the state government now lying? Does it have money stockpiled somewhere for the hijack? What other mutual properties ies the Akala-led administration thinking of acquiring? Should other member states of O’odua group be watchful of Akala and his game plans? Many questions.
While I would have loved to fold my hands and watch events as they unfold, the thousands of destinies at stake call for urgent swift action by all—they could be anyone’s children, cousins or nieces. It was a disheartening scene, caught on live TV, to watch as students of the institution beseeched the premises of Osun State Broadcasting Corporation (OSBC) to appeal to Osun state government to intervene. Also, I was moved to tears when I saw the dust-laden rickety Toyota Hiace bus that conveyed medical students of the institution from Osogbo to Ibadan in an effort to appeal to Governor Alao Akala to rescind his infamous popular decision. When the vehicle broke down along the Iyana Church area, passers bye couldn’t help but pity the innocent children who are victims of the ills of wrong actions of the leadership.
No wonder kidnappers
are everywhere. What does one expect when students are not in classes? How should one react to the wrong policies of politicians? If we want to tackle national crimes, we need to ensure that the youths are busy in classes. And issues like the LAUTECH Comedy are swiftly resolved by all and sundry.
It is therefore expedient for every stakeholder to step in and resolve this emerging crisis before it blows out of proportion. Chief Obasanjo needs to call his boys to order, the spouses of both governors should calm the nerves of their husbands, PDP stalwarts should call for truce, the NUC should sanction defaulting governments without risking the future of the children. Also, the Supreme Court judges should speed up the legal process and not treat the suit like family land disputes.
If President Goodluck Jonathan could take a break from Facebook and use the time to talk to the muscle-flexing governors, reminding them of the need to listen to the people they vowed to lead, then Nigerian youths would know that they are catered for and are a vital part of the big plan. However, if the status quo remains, then IBB was right after all when he said Nigerian youths cannot lead. Not because they are nonentities, they loath and passionately despise a nation that failed to rise up for them when it mattered most.