LAUTECH JOINT OWNERSHIP: STUDENTS ON RAMPAGE

By NBF News
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Academic, business and vehicular activities were yesterday paralysed at the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso, as the students of the institution from both Oyo and Osun states took to the streets to protest the controversial joint ownership of the university.

It was gathered that the students of the institution wanted the non-native staff of Oyo State to vacate the campus and return to their state, a situation that forced the staff to defend themselves, while claiming that the institution belonged to both states.

As early as about 6.45am, the protesting students were said to have barricaded the entrances of the institution, thereby preventing people and vehicles from going in or out of the campus and forcing all drivers, including staff, to park outside. The protesting students carried various placards with inscriptions such as: 'We don't want Acting VC;' 'Osun people should leave LAUTECH;' 'LAUTECH belongs to Oyo,' suggesting their opposition to the continued joint ownership of the university by the two states.

They also expressed their strong opposition to the suspension of Prof. Olarenwaju Nassar appointed by former governor Adebayo Alao-Akala as the vice chancellor, as well as the Registrar, Mr. Niyi Fehintola, Abiodun Alagbe (bursar) and Gboyega Adio (librarian). The students were also demanding the immediate release by the Osun State government of the report of the National Universities Commission (NUC) committee, which they claimed the Osun State staff had been hanging on to, to justify the continued ownership of the institution.

It took the intervention of men of the Nigeria Police Force who were stationed in front of the newly commissioned College of Medicine, about a kilometre to the university gate to disperse the students.

The President of the Students Union Government of the institution (SUG), Mr. Idowu Adeniyi (a.k.a I'd Aluta), said all they wanted was for the staff of the institution from Osun State to leave Ogbomoso. He added that some staff of the institution from Osun State used charms to beat some of the protesting students. He said, 'we even arrested two of the staff. We are demanding that Mr. Olagunju of Bursary Department should leave and go to his state in Osun.

'We do not want the acting vice chancellor but rather Prof. Nassar should be brought back.

While speaking with journalists, the President of the LAUTECH Alumni Association, Dr. Tunde Olabiyisi, advised the governors of the two states to find a lasting solution to the crisis for the sake of the future of the school and its students.

His words: 'The association's position is that the two governors of Oyo and Osun should meet and reach an agreement on how to find a lasting solution to the ownership crisis. They should evolve a holistic approach to the issue to forestall future occurrence. None of us could enter the campus in our vehicles today.'If the two states want to stay together, or they really want to part, they should do so with legal backing so that there would not be continued breach of the peace that will continue to adversely affect the staff and students of the university,' he appealed.

The ownership crisis was precipitated by the former governors of both states: Adebayo Alao-Akala of Oyo State and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola of Osun State, with Alao-Akala claiming sole ownership of the 20-year-old institution, while Oyinlola insisted that Oyo State could claim sole ownership since it had been run on joint ownership bases since inception.