LAUTECH CRISIS: An Emotionless Exegesis | by Sunday Adeniran-Awe

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Lautech white paper

Whether unintended or deliberate, it is now a fact that years of layered maladministration and fiscal mismanagement are the hunk harbingers of the hurtful halt that has besieged the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso, for a while now.

It is high time we stated and followed facts of the situation without getting our views and opinions blurred by the sting of emotions. This only applies if we truly desire an end to the lingering impasse.

Without mincing words, it is almost incurably sad that students, parents and workers alike have had to suffer stagnation and drought due to this lingering crisis. But also, judging from recent moves, it is an unmissable fact that the two owner states of the university, Oyo and Osun, especially the latter, have both recognized the importance to forestall such halt again. A reason why they set up a panel that gave a 75-number recommendation from a 6-point mandate viz – (i) To review the current terms of engagement of the University, with a view to consolidating the joint-ownership structure of the institution; (ii) To conduct an audit into the institution’s sources and application of funds; (iii) To review the structure of the institution, with a view to enhancing its efficiency and effectiveness; (iv) To propose a suitable funding structure that will ensure non-dependence of the institution on Government – subventions; (v)To propose suitable strategies for the overall improvement in the institution’s quality of education and service delivery; (vi) Consider any other matter relevant to the upliftment and sustainability of the institution and make suitable recommendations on same.

Then, I was privy to a detailed reading of the White Paper submitted to the Oyo state government on behalf of the two owner states by the Chief Wole Olanipekun-led panel, and I was shocked to the bones at the level of administrative imbalances and fiscal flaws replete within that document.

How can you run a public institution this huge for almost six (6) years without an audit, be it internal or external? How can the subventions, IGR, grants, TETFund, etc, be unaccounted for by audit or other means for five (5) successive academic sessions? How can you run a non-computerized Bursary and Audit departments and not expect to be prone to graft and a risk of managerial misappropriation? The Panel also observed the existence of ten (10) Chief Accountants in the Bursary department and regarded the number as “too big” as some of them would either be redundant or underutilized. One would ask, “why does LAUTECH need 10 chief accountants while some Federal, State and Private Universities use far too less?”. Well, the panel asked that it be reduced to four. Furthermore, how does one explain the need for 97 bank accounts for a singular institution? Red flags almost everywhere!

Many other unnecessary bleeding points and maladministrative abscess were indicated in that 75-pointer White Paper, and all were accompanied with many well thought-out recommendations to reverse the damnifying drain, and set the institution back on a stable course.

For example, in this document, the Panel recommends a minimum of 10% of the University’s IGR for funding its business units/operations so that in future the quantum of income of the University would be higher than its present income. It also advised the expansion of LAUTECH enterprises to accomodate further diversification. Furthermore, it advised that the laws establishing the University should be amended to allow for construction of student hostels on either Public-Private Partnership (PPP) or Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis. Another recommendation was that the University should make internal transportation arrangement for the students through PPP arrangement to alleviate the plight of the students. All these and more, the document said will reduce over dependence on funding from either the owner-states or student fees. It did also stress that the financial commitment of the owner states should not be caught in doubt despite the recommendation of fiscal independence for the institution.

In brief, contrary to what a Dr. Adejumo, an ASUU executive and LAUTECH Lecturer said on Channel’s TV Sunrise Daily programme, the root cause for this painful pause of productivity in LAUTECH is chronic internal mismanagement, as espoused by a majority of the recommendations in that panel report, and NOT “chronic underfunding” per se.

Yes, everyone with sane thoughts agree that the two owner states provide subventions to the university, and while they have lapsed in payment of these subventions for a while, that lapse is neither the singular nor major reason for the halt. At this level going forward, what the owner states seek is transparency in administrative management and even, a degree of fiscal independence for the school by recommending diverse revenue generation means, most of which are addressed in the quite detailed White Paper.

As a parent with a daughter stuck in her third year (300 level) for almost 2 sessions and without the means to bail her out of grief by enrolling her into a private university, you could imagine my pain all these while and why I hauled expletives at the two state governments at every chance I got. But of late, after seeing details of administrant rot espoused in this White Paper, I’ve had to recycle my pain and redirect my anger and prayers at the right diagnosis.

In fact, I opine that the state governments make this White Paper public, publish it someway. It’ll do a whole lot to help converge thoughts and congregate efforts of all parties involved at solving this issue from its foundation.

Without a surge of emotion, any responsible parent like me will agree to tow any course of solution being primed to finally forestall a recurrence of this sad phase. It should be agreeable by all sides that the system within the school be healed of managerial cancers before more funding is procured and poured into the school, else, this kind of situation will surely reoccur; it’s no rocket science!

As I said above, at this level, we can’t seriouslty want a change in the fortunes of this once best state-owned university in the country, by dissipating energy on insulting remarks, needless propaganda and endless protests. We need to rather converge on facts together, students, parents, workers, ASUU, SSANU and NASU alike, and tow a path to progress from there.

Anyone would imagine how the faces of students and parents lit with hope to have heard the Commissioner of Education in Oyo state say that LAUTECH could be reopened some four (4) weeks from now, especially if all parties involved cooperate with the process of thorough external audit commissioned by the state to ensure absolute clarity, transparency and stability, moving forward.

The role of the school authority to make this happen is to allow the external audit to be done in time and successfully at that. Parents too must be clearly seen joining hands with the students to rechannel common energies to appeal to school associations to cooperate with external auditors to complete audit and thus fast track the reopening of the school and resumption of academic activities.

It’s no farce, that to forestall fiscal flaws and further failures in the running of LAUTECH, we all must follow the facts without the flak of emotions to find a final and lasting solution to the current siege, and ensure this university is seen as great again.

Ven. Sunday Adeniran-Awe wrote from All Saint’s Anglican Church, Ijemo-agbadu, Oke-Itoku, 
Abeokuta-East Archdeaconry, Ogun state.

 

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