The Senate has asked the Nigerian government to release N4 billion naira to Ladoke Akintola University of Technology to enable the crisis-ridden institution reopen and save the future of its 34,000 students.
The students have remained in the same classes since 2015 when workers of the institution began to strike over inadequate funding for their salaries and general operations.
Although jointly owned by Oyo and Osun states, the Senate on Wednesday said the federal government should take over and fund the Ogbomoso-based school as a “permanent solution” to its crisis.
This followed a motion by Abdulfatai Buhari, APC-Oyo, who hails from Ogbomoso, the host community of the school.
The crisis at the school has been intractable, with the students not being promoted for two years as the staff unions insist they will not return to work except they are paid several months’ backlog of salaries. The two state governments – apart from “appeal for cooperation”, – have not committed to settling the arrears.
The Alumni Association of the school last month launched the #FundLautech campaign to raise N1billion for the school. Less than 10 per cent of the fund has so far been raised.
In his motion, Mr. Buhari said “strike has crippled the activities of the school for more than one year due to the inability of the parent states to provide the sum of N4 billion to pay accumulated salaries and arrears of members of staff, thereby leaving over 3000 staff of the university to wallow in hardship and poverty.
“The careers of over 34,000 students are currently in jeopardy, turning them to social miscreants and leaving parents who have laboured to give their wards quality education to languish in pains and agonies for no fault of theirs.
“The current pitiable situation of LAUTECH has pathetically shown that the continuous joint-ownership in the management of the affairs of the university by the parent states is difficult and has become necessary for the federal government to intervene and review this nature of ownership.”
Apart from the funding request, the Senate also asked the federal government to set up a committee “that will look into the whole situation in order to provide permanent solution by taking over the institution.”
Amid the crisis rocking LAUTECH, Oyo State commissioned a technical university in Ibadan, which, according to the government, is based on public private partnership model.
It is not clear if the federal governemnt will heed the non-mandatory Senate resolution, an unusual one in a federal system. There is also no such provision in the federal government’s 2017 budget.