LAUTECH: How Oyo, Osun agreed to cancel joint ownership – NUC

Oyo State has assumed full ownership of Ladoke Akintola University (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso.

The National Universities Commission (NUC) announced this development on Friday in Abuja. It followed an agreement between Governors Adegboyega Oyetola and Seyi Makinde of Osun and Oyo states respectively.

The agreement cancels the joint ownership of the 30-year old university by the two states.

The agreement also sees the ownership of Ladoke Akintola College of Health situated in Osogbo transferred to the Osun State Government.

The Executive Secretary of the NUC, Abubakar Rasheed, announced the development at a press briefing in Abuja on Friday.

“It is gratifying to note that after extensive deliberations, negotiations and consultations, both owner states mutually agreed terms and the joint ownership of LAUTECH was formally dissolved,” he said.

The joint ownership by the two states had resulted in underfunding of the university, with workers repeatedly on strike over irregular payment of their salaries and inadequate funds for the operations of the university.

To address the crisis, the NUC constituted a tripartite committee which began work on March 15. After extensive meetings and interactions with the governors of the two states and other stakeholders in the university, the committee facilitated a memorandum of understanding.

Mr Rasheed said the memorandum was signed last week giving legal effect to the transfer of the ownership of LAUTECH to the Oyo State Government and of its College of Health Sciences to the Osun State Government.

“From the time the two governors signed the agreement, and that was last week, LAUTECH in Ogbomosho has become the property of Oyo State and it is officially autonomous as far as its relationship with the teaching hospital is concerned,” he said.

Locations of LAUTECH asset

Mr Rasheed said the dissolution was aided by the locations of the College of Health Sciences and the University, “seeing as the College is located in Osogbo, Osun State while the University is located in Ogbomosho, Oyo State. “

According to Mr Rasheed, the autonomy of the hospital and the university, however, would not take immediate effect.

“There are students, who are students of LAUTECH who are studying, doing their clinical sciences in Osogbo and we cannot simply say because of this agreement they are no more students of the university,” he explained.

He said Oyo State will henceforth take full responsibility for running the university in Ogbomosho while “the same goes for Osun State with the College of Medicine in Osogbo.”

“The College of Health, I am sure, will be merged with the Osun State University, but the Oyo State G,overnment has now decided to have a teaching hospital in Ogbomoso.

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“They have a hospital there and they are converting that hospital into the teaching arm of the university so that the University of Technology owned by Oyo State will continue to provide all courses being rendered, including Medicine,” the NUC executive secretary said.

Mr Rasheed said students in Oyo will not have to go to Osogbo for their clinical training but rather, migrate to a hospital in Ogbomoso that is being upgraded to serve as a teaching hospital.

How it started

LAUTECH was established in 1990 by the old Oyo State government with the main campus located in Ogbomoso, while the teaching hospital was established in Osogbo.

When Osun State was carved out of the old Oyo State in 1991, the two states agreed to be joint owners of the institution.

However, both states failed to diligently fund the institution and sometimes disagreed publicly on who was responsible for the poor funding.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how the LAUTECH chapter of ASUU threatened a strike because the university administration had not paid their salaries for 11 months cumulatively.

The vice-chancellor at the time, Michael Ologunde, attributed the non-payment of salaries to non-release of subvention to the institution by the owner states.

Following the threat, the Osun State Governor, Mr Oyetola, released N472 million for the payment of salary arrears of the staff and its teaching hospital in Osogbo.

Although the government claimed to have released the money, the workers were not immediately paid, as a result of which they began the strike.

Again in 2018, the workers went on another strike for two weeks over non-payment of salaries and decayed infrastructure of the institution.

This infuriated the students who had only recently returned to school after an earlier 16-month strike by the workers between 2016 and 2017.