By Ojo Oyewamide
Since its establishment, this is the best of times for the institution. Before now, it was a nauseating parody of a university. Its campus was a shameful eyesore. The school became a victim of political animosity some months after it was founded. But the nasty story of the institution has now changed. Today, it is a beauty to behold, a university in the real sense of it.
The Ondo State University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa, (OSUSTECH) was established by the Olusegun Agagu government in 2007. The name of the university was changed to Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology (OAUSTECH) in 2019. The change of name by the Oluwarotimi Akeredolu government was in honour of the late Dr. Agagu, a notable scholar and one of the great minds that have ever administered the affairs of the state.
The founding of the university was a response to the clamour of the people of the Southern Senatorial District for an higher institution. At a time when each of the two other senatorial districts could boast of two or three higher institutions, the south had none. The reality of the skewed distribution of the available higher institutions in the state elicited a sense of marginalisation among the people of the South. And the sense led to the clamour.
It is safe to say the decision to establish a university in the southern region was an inescapable one for the Agagu government. Any government with a sense of justice and fairness would not have ignored such a demand from an area regarded as the goose that lays the golden eggs for the state.
The plan was for the first set of students to resume in October 2009 for the 2009/2010 academic session. All necessary things were done for the effective takeoff of the university. On May 15, 2008, the institution was officially recognised by the National Universities Commission (NUC). The official recognition followed the fulfillment of the commission’s preliminary requirements.
In November and December 2008, the university construction projects were awarded to reputable contractors. Among these projects were the Campus Road Network, Administrative Building, University Library, Auditorium, Students’ Hostels, Students’ Centre, Principal Officers’ Quarters, Health Centre, Essential Staff Quarters, the School of Science, the School of Engineering and Engineering Technology, and the School of Information and Communication Technology,
The contractors were instructed to get the projects ready by September 2009. To ensure that they delivered as scheduled and to avoid variation, the contractors were paid 50 percent mobilization fees.
But the university was to suffer the worst of abandonment after the exit of the late Agagu from the Alagbaka Government House. The institution could not take off as scheduled.
As directed by the then new government of Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, the construction of projects at the university site was stopped. The government terminated the appointments of all the contractors and consultants handling the projects. It froze the university’s bank accounts and later ordered that the funds in them be transferred to the Ondo State Government accounts. The resultant frustration forced the pioneer vice-chancellor of the university, Professor Akinbo Adesomoju, to resign his appointment in December, 2009.
On August 3, 2010, the NUC withdrew the operational licence of the institution. The reason the commission adduced for its decision was the failure of the university to take off two years after it was issued a provisional licence. It was after the withdrawal of the licence that the Mimiko government started paying what could be regarded as half-hearted attention to the university.
But since Arakunrin Akeredolu came on board, the status of the university has changed. Not up to four months in office, the administration of Governor Akeredolu completed the asphalt laying of the road from the Main Gate to the heart of the Campus. The road contract was awarded by the Agagu government, but it was abandoned for eight years by the Mimiko administration.
Last week, Governor Akeredolu commissioned some newly completed projects in the school. They included the University Library, University Auditorium and the Administrative Building. All these projects were initiated by the Agagu government. But they were abandoned by the immediate past administration.
The Akeredolu government commenced and completed a new electrification project in the school campus. It also facilitated the donation of science equipment worth millions of Naira from Seeding Laboratory, United States of America (USA), to the university.
The institution has changed from a one-Faculty University which it was for eight years. With the improved funding from the present government, two schools have been added to the university. They are the School of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and the School of Engineering and Engineering Technology.
The desire of the Akeredolu government is to expand the programmes of the institution. Already, the Senate of the university has approved Marine Engineering, Applied Geology, Applied Geophysics, Petrochemical Engineering with options in Petroleum and Chemical Engineering, Mechatronic Engineering and Computer Engineering for the institution. All the university’s programmes due for the NUC’s accreditation have been accredited.
Efforts of the present government have ensured the listing of OAUSTECH as a beneficiary of TETFund for the first time in the history of the institution. The university has also been selected to be a major beneficiary of the normal TETFund intervention for year 2020. Surely, this will significantly assist the quest of the Akeredolu government to transform OAUSTECH to a world class higher institution.
Oyewamide is Senior Special Assistant to Governor Akeredolu on Media and Publicity