A tale of two Oyo schools
It will be four months tomorrow that the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) in Ogbomoso, Oyo State, was shut. It was closed down barely two months after it resumed from an eight-month lecturers’ strike. In the ancient Oyo town, the Emmanuel Alayande College of Education (EMACOED) has not been re-opened, six weeks after it was shut, following a students’ protest. GABRIEL OGUNJOBI, reports.
By now, Gbenga Ojo should have completed the compulsory one-year National Youth Service. His mates in other schools have completed the programme and some of them have since started working.
But Gbenga, a 400-Level student, cannot say when he would graduate, having spent almost seven years on a five-year programme at the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) in Ogbomoso, Oyo State.
Crestfallen, the Physics student regretted the day he chose at LAUTECH, saying the crisis rocking the school has disorganised his future plan.
In the last two years, LAUTECH’s academic calendar has been disrupted because of perennial workers’ srike. The school has been shut many times. The latest closure on March 15 followed the inability of its joint owners – Oyo and Osun states – to fund the school and pay workers’ salaries.
“I have lost hope in our education,” Gbenga said, expressing fear that the crisis may linger for as long as the school’s Visitors are not committed to the joint ownership structure.
Noting that he has remained on the same academic level since 2015, he said: “Being stagnated at 400-Level since 2015 has not given me hope whatsoever. By now, I am supposed to have either gone for National Youth Service or be preparing to go. The fate of thousands of students studying in the school are being put on hold, because of the inability of Oyo and Osun states to fund the school.
“It is not as if the country has anything to offer us after graduation. Instead of wasting my time while the university is closed down, I had to start learning graphic designing to keep myself busy. There is the tendency that I would set up a big business when I eventually leave school.”
Like LAUTECH, another tertiary institution in the state – Emmanuel Alayande College of Education (EMACOED) – has been shut and the students sent home.
EMACOED was shut indefinitely by the Oyo State government, following last month’s students’ protest over welfare.
Since LAUTECH was shut early this year, its students have held street protests and rallies to draw attention to their plight. They have written to the government canvassing intervention in the crisis, all to no avail.
Their resolve to make a coordinated appeal to the Oyo and Osun governments over the strike is being constrained by the absence of Students’ Union Government (SUG) leadership. CAMPUSLIFE gathered that the union was banned weeks before LAUTECH was shut.
Wasiu Amobi, a student and member of the proscribed union, called for the Federal Government’s intervention, saying the crisis may become protracted if “superior authority” did not mediate in students’ interest.
He said: “It would be in the best interest of the students if the Federal Government, as a superior authority, rises to the occasion and intervenes in the crisis rocking LAUTECH. The governments of Oyo and Osun states have shown they are not buoyant enough to continue funding the institution. If this is true, what would be the fate of thousands of students studying in the school?”
Another student, Ahmed Oyedeji, said they were concerned about the continued closure of the school, adding that they were being careful in organising rallies so that their struggle is not hijacked by criminals and politicians.
“We appeal to the Federal Government to intervene in this issue to save our future. The prolonged strike is a bad signal for our education. We cannot organise rallies to draw attention to our plight because we are afraid hooligans may hijack the protests to perpetrate evil. Some politicians may also use it to their own advantage, breeding conflicts and disunity among students. These considerations sabotage our efforts as we strive to resolve boiling issues on ground.”
The continued closure of the school, CAMPUSLIFE gathered, may give some students licence to engage in crimes and immorality. There are fears that some students may have ventured into cyber fraud, prostitution and related vices.
Rather than engage in immorality, Faith Oyedele, a student, said: “I had to start learning fashion designing against my will. But, I didn’t have a choice, since I don’t want to be seen idle. I hope the strike is called off soon.”
Adewale Adediran, an Applied Chemistry student, is eking out a living as a Disc Jockey at outdoor a parties in Ibadan.
Kemi Alabi, who was admitted to study Animal Science and Crop Production last January, has not resumed because the school is yet to complete its 2015/2016 academic session.
“I might have to consider sitting for another Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) if the school is not reopened on time. It is better to choose a faraway institution than to be delayed by the neighbouring institution whose owners are not serious about its development,” she said.
Credit : The Nation