Over 150 students of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomosho, co-owned by Oyo and Osun states stormed Ibadan, Oyo State to agitate the reopening of the higher institution which has been closed for over seven months.
The students who were joined by colleagues from other universities around Southwest occupied Ibadan, capital of Oyo state where the school is domiciled, marched from Correspondence Chapel, Mokola, Ibadan to the Oyo state secretariat to demand the Governor of Oyo state, Senator Abiola Ajimobi order the reopening of the school which has been shut due to non-payment of salaries of staff of the University.
The protesting students criticized the ineptitude act of both state government by allowing the matter to linger for such a long period while students are wasting away months in the vain hope that the school will be opened soon. LAUTECH students declared they can't bear it anymore and had to handle the matter themselves hence resulting to a peaceful protest to demonstrate and make known their dissatisfaction with the continuous closure of the school.
While briefing the media on the issue, Omoakin Monsurudeen Abiola, who spoke on behalf of the students, revealed that students were made to believe they are going for the usual mid-semester break but were shocked to find out that the school is being shut down due to incompetence of the two state Governors involved in managing the school especially their failure to pay staff salaries. He also made it known that the school was last given subvention from the state over 20 months ago and that plans are being made to increase the current tuition fee, a decision they warned students would vehemently kick against.
“Professor A. S. Gbadegesin announced the closure of the university in June 2016 under the guise of a mid-semester break. We got to understand that the closure was a direct consequence of the two states inability to pay allowances and salaries of workers in the school and the states did not pay over 22 months of subventions for the school. The school, which boasts of being the third best university in Nigeria, cannot boast of a single hotel, modern and adequate learning facilities and satisfactory laboratory and lecture theaters.”
He added, “numerous protests have been staged to make both state governments reason and reopen of the school. He said the last protest held by the students witnessed brutal repression by the Nigeria police unleashed students by the Oyo state government.”
“It is our opinion that it is not true that the two state Governors (Oyo and Osun) lack enough fund to avoid the closure of the school in the first place, rather, it is misappropriation and financial corruption on the part of both state governments that led to the inability to pay the workers. It is on this premise we thereby reject in advance the proposal to increase school fee of students by 65% and 75% for indigenes and non-indigenes respectively. The fee increment is not only anti-poor but criminal, and it will deprive many the right to free education.”
On getting to the state secretariat, the students were denied access to see Oyo state Governor Ajimobi but upon insistence they would not listening and speaking to any of the Governor's representatives and not leaving the state secretariat until the Governor addresses them, the students wish were granted when the Governor came out to talk with them.
Governor Ajimobi disclosed that both state Governors are working on the matter and the school will resume before the end of January. However, he stated the fact that both states presently lack funds. However, he promised that both state governments would give a minimum of N250million each to pay part of salary backlog to encourage a quick reopening of the school.
“Your management, Oyo state government and many other state governments lack fund, and whenever such happens, the management must find a way to help the students. I have fixed January 11 for meeting with the management of LAUTECH and some bodies representing the students and I am certain that the school will be re-opened before the end of January.” The Governor assured the students.