Against the backdrop of the recent protest by the students of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso, which grounded socio-economic activities in Osogbo, the Osun State capital, the state governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, on Friday night, maintained that his administration was financially incapacitated to tackle the challenges of funding bedeviling the institution.
He described as baseless and untrue insinuations in some quarters that he was not interested and committed to the survival and effective funding of the university, which is jointly owned by Oyo and Osun states.
Hundreds of students of LAUTECH had, on Wednesday and Thursday, stormed Osogbo in a mass demonstration, condemning what they termed the indifference of Aregbesola to the perennial crisis rocking their institution, which culminated in strike by their lecturers over unpaid salaries.
The students’ protest totally shut down commercial and social activities in the state capital, just as vehicular movements were halted for almost eight hours, forcing commuters to trek long distance, before reaching their destination.
However, speaking to journalists during a media night out at the Government House, located at Oke Fia, as part of the activities commemorating his 60th birthday, Aregbesola said: “This is not a matter of not having interest in LAUTECH. With the economic realities on ground, I cannot continue with the pattern of funding the school, because we are financially incapacitated.
“I am incapable. The funds are not just there. Though I still make contributions and my deputy governor is here to testify to that, I still sign cheques to make payment every month to LAUTECH. It is small. It is not a matter of interest, but incapacity. The failure of the management to live within its means is another issue.
“We stopped giving financial support to Osun State University (UNIOSUN), an institution with about 12,000 students population about three years ago and the university is still running on its own till today. The population of LAUTECH is about 33,000 and the difference between the tuition fees being paid by LAUTECH and UNIOSUN is not much,” he stated.
Aregbesola hinted that a private audit firm had been commissioned by both Oyo and Osun to carry out total audit of staff strength, income and expenditure of the school, coupled with how revenue accruable to the institution was being used.
– Nigerian Tribune