By: Olajide Toriola
Students and workers of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso, Oyo State, which was shut about seven months ago, have been enjoined to brace themselves for resumption of academic and other activities latest by the end of January.
Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, who dropped the hint, on Friday, said that he had closed ranks with his Osun State counterpart, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, to break the logjam in the overall interest of the stakeholders.
LAUTECH is jointly owned by Oyo and Osun, the two states that constituted old Oyo State before Osun was carved out in 1991.
A statement by the governor’s Special Adviser on Communication and Strategy, Mr. Yomi Layinka, said that the decision was reached after Ajimobi’s meeting with the national, zonal and state leadership of the students’ unions in his office, on Friday evening.
The team was led by the Senate President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Salam Olajide; General Secretary, South-West zone, Olanrewaju Oloja; and General Secretary, Joint Campus Committee, NANS, Oyo State, Farouk Musa.
The governor said that the decision to reopen the institution was reached after another round of discussions and commitments by the stakeholders, on Friday, which, he said, would be heartwarming to the striking workers.
The university had been grounded since June 9, 2016, when its branches of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Non-Academic Staff Union, and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities downed tools in protest against non-payment of accumulated salaries.
Meanwhile, in a separate development the statement added that Ajimobi had ordered the immediate reopening of the five secondary schools shut in the wake of students’ attack on some schools in protest against the cancellation of automatic promotion in public schools.
The affected schools are Isale Oyo Community High School, Oyo; Anglican Methodist Secondary School, Oyo; Oba Adeyemi High School, Oyo; Ojoo High School, Ibadan; and Community Secondary School, Iyana Idi Ose, Ibadan.
Ajimobi said he took the decision in deference to pleas by stakeholders and respected members of the society that the schools be reopened.
On the LAUTECH prolonged strike, it will be recalled that Ajimobi and Aregbesola, had led top officials of the state to a meeting in Ibadan, last October, to proffer a lasting to the lingering disagreement.
In the same direction, representatives of the two owner states had met last Tuesday in Osogbo to agree on the way out of the crisis prior to Friday’s round of talks culminating in the agreement to reopen the school.
The statement reads, “The students’ delegation had sought audience with the governor to plead with him to facilitate the urgent reopening of the university.
“While thanking the student delegation for their concerns, the governor explained that the two owner states regret the huge loss of valuable time to all stakeholders, especially the students whose academic calendar has been significantly disrupted by the prolonged closure.
“He however stated that this was due to the constraints currently being experienced on account of the debilitating effects of the recession on the two governor’s respective capacities to meet the demands of the striking workers.
“He regretted the fact that despite all efforts at persuading the striking workers to resume they refused to yield grounds. He, however, announced that the schools would be reopened on or before February 1 going by the level of his discussions with his Osun State counterpart, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.
“With today’s pronouncement, it is hoped that all stakeholders including the management, staff and students of LAUTECH will begin to put adequate machinery in place preparatory to full resumption of academic and non-academic activities in the university.”