Oyo State Governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde has announced the increment of the state’s education budget to 20 per cent in 2020.
The Governor, who announced the decision while speaking at a consultative meeting with stakeholders at the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) Ogbomoso, said that in 2020, Oyo State would devote 20 per cent of its budget to education.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, confirmed that the Governor told the gathering at LAUTECH that the state was jerking up its budget allocation to education to 20 per cent.
Besides, the Governor also announced the approval of N500 million subvention to LAUTECH to address the demands of its workforce.
He stated that the only condition his government would give the university was that stakeholders in the school must submit a written agreement to his office on how the funds would be disbursed.
Governor Makinde is one of the two Visitors to the institution jointly owned by Oyo and Osun states.
According to the Governor, the visit to the University, which has been enmeshed in labour crisis over its joint ownership, was with a view to seeing things first-hand and ascertaining the situation in the institution ahead of the inauguration of the Oyo State’s committee on the ownership crisis.
Governor Makinde maintained that he would inaugurate the Oyo State’s committee, which will work with its Osun State counterpart on how to resolve the University’s crisis today [Wednesday], noting that in line with his promise during the electioneering period, his government would find a lasting solution to the LAUTECH crisis.
Governor Makinde, who stated that he remained committed to his promise that the University would be adequately funded and that its academic calendar would become regular and definite, said there had been challenges to the realization of the promise because the institution was jointly owned.
The Governor, however, maintained that though the issue of joint ownership has muddled things up, the aspiration of his government remained that LAUTECH would be counted among the best in the world, urging people not exercise fears over their jobs or what would become of them, as he assured that Oyo and Osun states would resolve the matter as brothers.
At the interactive meeting attended by students, workers, University management and indigenes of Ogbomoso, among others, representatives of NASU, SSANU and Federating Units of Ogbomoso Indigenes placed their demands before the Governor, with most of the speakers including the president of the Ogbomoso indigenes, Alhaji Saka Bello Aremu and Comrade Makinde Oyewande, making strong cases for the sole ownership of the institution by Oyo State.
In his response, Governor Makinde said: “I will always listen to you as I have just done. The reason government exists is to enable the people to benefit from the dividends of democracy. On the issue of joint ownership of LAUTECH, there is no family in Oyo State that does not have a linkage with Osun State. We were all of Oyo State before. I have appealed to the management of this institution that we should not go towards xenophobic issues. We are brothers and sisters with those in Osun.
"My wish for LAUTECH is to compete with the best of institutions in the world. To do that, wherever we can get the best hand, either Osun, Oyo, Ekiti, we don’t mind. Even, experts will still come into a lecture in this school. So, please let us push aside the issue of Osun and Oyo. Everybody that is working here, irrespective of where you came from, it is the duty of the government to ensure you have job security and get your salary as at when due. On the 25th of every month, which is the GSM Date in Oyo State, they receive their salaries. And very soon, it will be the same for LAUTECH. From ASUU to SSANU, to NASU, we will resolve the issues.
"By 9 am tomorrow (today), I will inaugurate the committee for Oyo State to negotiate with Osun the way forward for LAUTECH. We don’t want to make any mistake and that is the reason why I am here to interact with stakeholders to hear from them and I have heard from you loud and clear. And I promise that we will move on the path that is sustainable for all the stakeholders of LAUTECH.
"I listened to NASU, ASUU and other trade unions and learnt that they are owing you salary. I can conveniently claim that I have only been here for almost six months now and that the money you are owed was before my time but I am not one to shy away from responsibilities. We are taking full responsibility for all the things that have happened in the past but we have to chart a sustainable way forward. I listened to the Vice-Chancellor while speaking and learned that all the money they are owing you is about N6.07bn. It is a lot easier to spend N6bn to establish a new university for Oyo State. Yes, we can do it. Some other people did it. You have heard about Technical University in Ibadan but we are not going to trail that path. For the people of Ogbomosho, LAUTECH is our own Cambridge. It is our own Oxford. It is at the arch of the economy of Ogbomosho and, by extension, Oyo State.
"The VC has read to us so many achievements from this University but now, we are asking the lecturers and the non-academic workers to deliver on empty stomach. And that is because, in the past, two elephants were fighting but who are those suffering? The people are the ones suffering. But thank God that we are not elephants. But they say ‘a dog that has followers can kill a monkey’. With your support, we will find a lasting solution to the issue of LAUTECH.
"When we got into government, we met a budget that was signed into law by the previous administration. We saw that the budget was not realistic. So, from the N285bn that was appropriated, we took out over N100bn because there was no way we could get that money. As of the time we took over, the revenue performance was at about 30 per cent. So, we shaved it off and we have lived with that budget till now.”
Governor Makinde, while addressing the issue of joint ownership of the institution, told the stakeholders that though Oyo State could shoulder the responsibility of funding LAUTECH because his government has lived up to its promise to raise budgetary allocation to education to 20 per cent, it had an engagement with Osun State and negotiations must take place on how to chart a sustainable path for the University.
He said: "But the good news is, tomorrow (Wednesday), I will lay a budget before the State Assembly with, at least, 20 percent for Education. Can Oyo State shoulder the responsibility of sole ownership of LAUTECH? My answer is resounding yes. But we do have a lot of work to do. We have an engagement coming up with our brothers and sisters of the State of Osun. We have negotiations that must take place. We can only get ourselves on that sustainable path if we have your support. This is devoid of politics. I am not playing politics here. The time of politicking has passed. You gave me your mandate and I am exercising it on your behalf. So, there is nothing to politick right now. Politicking will resume in 2022. So, anyone who wants to politick can wait a little bit to start with us again. But in the interim, we have a lot of challenges ahead of us to tackle and getting a solution to the crisis in LAUTECH is one of those challenges we must tackle.
"I want to solve the problem of ownership before putting a kobo of Oyo State money into this matter. But looking at all of you here, I cannot do that. Christmas is fast approaching and all of us want to go home to celebrate with our families and friends. I will release some money from Oyo State to LAUTECH but under a certain condition. Osun State government claimed it has released N250 million for LAUTECH. It is only the VC that can confirm that.
"Oyo State will be ready to release, at least, N500 million naira to LAUTECH. We will only release that money if the leadership of ASUU, SSANU and the rest will come up with an agreement on what they will do with the money. You will get the money immediately you have that agreement. I look forward to it. If the VC can come up with a document where everybody has agreed, we will release the money the day after.
"Be of good cheer, weeping may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning. For LAUTECH, joy is coming in the morning."
Earlier, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Michael Ologunde, who expressed delight that Governor Makinde embarked on the visit to assess the things on ground, said: "It is a special opportunity to have you here. As a matter of fact, when we were told last week that you will be here, it really gladdened our heart because as the chief Executive of the State, the University is entirely yours and it is important for you to take a visit and access the situation to know what is on the ground. In the process, the University will have the opportunity of placing its problems and aspirations before you which we hope that, by your coming today, will disappear.
"It is our greatest pleasure to welcome you most heartily to this University which is the best University of Technology and, in Webometric ranking of the world’s renowned assessment organisation, the 7th best in the country. We are sure that it is as a consequence of all these attainments that your passion for the sustainability of this University so as to be able to achieve its pride of place in the comity of universities the world over that you are here. And you are so much concerned and we believe, as I have said earlier, all our concerns and the problems associated with the concerns will disappear today. We are pleased to have you in our midst."