… Oyo, Osun’ll release N500m this month –Ajimobi
From Oluseye Ojo and Taiwo Oluwadare, Ibadan
It was a gruelling experience for residents of Ibadan, capital of Oyo State, yesterday, when, for more than five hours, students of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) protested closure of the institution in the last eight months.
The students also carried out the protest to pressurise governments of Oyo and Osun states, co-owners, to re-open the school.
The protest began at Mokola Roundabout in Ibadan, after representatives of the students addressed newsmen at the Correspondents’ Chapel of Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ).
The protest caused gridlock on major roads in Ibadan, from about 11.00am till 4.00pm.
Affected roads, include Total Garden-UCH-Secretariat-Bodija Road, Awolowo Avenue-Sango Road, Mokola-Sango Road, and Government House Road.
Earlier, Commissioner of Police, Mr. Samuel Adegbuyi, held a meeting with the students, where he warned them against any violent protest.
The students, however, converged at the entrance of the state secretariat and barricaded the Roundabout.
They sang solidarity songs till Governor Abiola Ajimobi, who is a visitor to LAUTECH, cut short the weekly State Executive Council meeting to address them.
Heavy presence of security personnel were sighted at the secretariat.
The logjam also extended to the secretariat as many people who wanted to leave could not because the gates were shut against the protesters, leaving people stranded for close to three hours.
Ajimobi, who noted that the two owner states felt the plight of the students and had taken measures to ensure that the institution is reopened before the end of this month, added that the two states have agreed to contribute N250 million each, for the payment of workers’ salaries so that they can return to work.
The governor also said he has invited the Vice chancellor of the institution, as well as various unions in the school, including the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Non-Academic Staff Union(NASU) and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) for a meeting tomorrow, to resolve the crisis in the institution, which was closed by the school’s Senate on June 13, 2016.
Outgoing Students’ Union Government (SUG) President of the institution, Bakare Olatunde, told the governor that, “all we want is the re-opening of our institution.
“As you have said, our institution will be re-opened before the end of this month. Please, we want action and we want you to stand by your words.”
The students also appealed to the governor not to increase their tuition fees.
Ajimobi, in his response, said the owner states set up a panel headed by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) to ensure academic excellence in LAUTECH and government would take decision on matters concerning the tuition fee when the panel submitted its report.
But, speaking on behalf of his colleagues, secretary of the umbrella body of students movements and organisations in the campus, The Save Education and Reopen LAUTCH Coalition (SERAL-C), Monsurudeen Omoakin, a 400-level Applied Physics student, demanded immediate and unconditional re-opening of LAUTECH, immediate payment of all outstanding salaries and allowances of striking workers, no hike in fees, improved funding and democratic management of LAUTECH, and immediate restoration of the students’ union.
Omoakin said the 26-year-old institution, which was once adjudged as the best state university in the country, “cannot boast of a single hostel accommodation, modern and adequate learning facilities or laboratory.”
He said it was enough for the two states, since last June when the institution was shut, to call all stakeholders to a roundtable and settle the lingering crises.
The students lamented that they, who were supposed to have been mobilised for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and those who should have graduated, are still being delayed, due to the school’s’ closure.