Opinion: On Everybody’s Goat and The LAUTECH Conundrum
“The goat that belongs to the everybody often dies of starvation”
A few days ago, a video of Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, saying some nasty words and generally being uncouth and uncivil to some students of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology who were protesting the closure of their school since June 2016 began making the rounds on the internet. While I fully I agree that the censure and the response, that has accompanied the governor’s behavior in that video are well deserved, I am not in the least surprised by the governor’s statements. Having lived in Oyo State for the last five years, which is a large chunk of Abiola Ajimobi’s tenure, I can say that his tirade is not surprising. Even at the best of times, the governor has always been abrasive and loud. People like that inevitably say things that they have to apologize for from time to time. The contents of the aforementioned video will not even feature high in the list of the most shocking things Ajimobi is known to have said even in the last five years alone.
What I am concerned about though is that in this case, it seems to be only Ajimobi who is making all the noise and getting the resultant heat for a situation that isn’t even totally his fault, and over an institution that is not wholly his responsibility. Since the strike started there has hardly been a peep from Governor the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola on this issue even though Osun has as much stake as Oyo does in LAUTECH and the current strike going on in the institution. The question that one cannot but ask is this: if at least we can see Ajimobi’s tirades, what the hell is Aregbesola doing?
Of course this does not excuse Ajimobi’s rashness, in fact, it makes his conduct all the more baffling. Why did he react that way given that he is not the only governor being indicted in the LAUTECH strike? One suspects that the LAUTECH strike is more than just two governments neglecting their citizens, it is a sign of a cold war between Oyo and Osun States, where the former sees the latter as an irresponsible freeloader, incapable of fulfilling its obligations to the University of Technology because it already has its own University, while the latter sees the former as a hypocritical bully who is only making noise so that it can make the other look bad as part of its long-term strategy of wanting to take the University and all its benefits for itself, as it attempted to do under the Adebayo Alao Akala government a few years ago. Thus the students of the institution have become like the community goat which is slowly dying of hunger because the two owners can’t be arsed to reach a compromise on when and how it should be fed.
The immediate solution to the LAUTECH strike is for the governors of Osun and Oyo to sit down together and try to find a viable solution to the nearly one-year-old strike as they have both tried to do in the past so that the students who have had their studies terminated abruptly can go back to school and get on with their lives. Ajimobi’s railing against every Tom. Dick and Harry won’t lessen his culpability in the issue; if anything it will diminish his image further. Aregbesola also keeping a glum silence can’t cover his irresponsibility and negligence either.
Even if this strike which has been on for more than seven months comes to an end, as long as both of the states that own the Ladoke Akintola University continue to squabble over who should do what, there will always be a looming threat of paralysis in the university. There is an anecdote I think of when I think about the LAUTECH conundrum, it is the popular anecdote about everybody being given a task to do. Instead of doing said task, everybody starts to argue that somebody should do it. In the end, nobody did it and everybody got blamed. Even if the two states manage, in some way, to overcome the financial challenges they both face, LAUTECH still doesn’t have a long-term future as a co-owned school. The best thing both states can do for the institution is for them to negotiate how they can give or sell or whatever they want to make sure that LAUTECH belongs to only one state. Failure to do this will see both states continue to drag their feet on the instruction while the students languish in truncated school sessions and academic delays, because as the Yoruba will say “what is ours is ours, and what is mine is mine”.
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