Friday, October 21


It is not the fault of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) that it was born in very odd and peculiar circumstances. Established in April 1990 as Oyo State University of Technology, it soon transformed into LAUTECH after Osun State was carved out of Oyo State in August 1991. The university had obviously not found its footing when circumstances compelled it into polyandry. That polyandrous relationship has clearly become a problem for the school, though it has managed over the years to grow into a notable state university. While the sharing of positions and funding arrangements have been well spelt out, the details have been great on paper than in practice. The disagreements have therefore continued, leading to Oyo State acting as the senior partner and campaigning for sole ownership. Osun State has resisted.

The disagreements have continued both under military and elected governments. When the two states were governed by different political parties, the controversy deepened and threatened to snowball out of control. Many commentators believed that once both Oyo and Osun were governed by the same political party, the contentiousness would either be considerably ameliorated or even resolved altogether. When that alignment eventually occurred under Governors Abiola Ajimobi and Rauf Aregbesola, the two states attempted to address the problem, and with fanfare announced an agreement had been reached. Sadly, even that resolution has proved a chimera.

But both states need to begin acknowledging that the controversy and misunderstanding will never end. Resolving the problem does not depend on ideologies, partisanship, goodwill of indigenes and administrators, and friendship between the governors. The main problem strikes at the bottom of human behaviour to property. Joint ownership, even though it has become the hallmark of business, is always less gratifying than sole ownership, especially when that joint ownership attempts to institute equal responsibility, which is hard to measure, and equal benefit, which is sometimes nebulous.

It is tempting for the two states to keep hope of amicable resolution of the problems alive. But they must by now have discovered how hard it is to sustain the present turbulent relationship. Rather than get mired in bog, it may be time for them to sit down and engage in hard and frank discussions and negotiations. If they think they can resolve their misunderstanding, they must first ask themselves whether they have the discipline to keep their own sides of the bargain. But if they are honest enough, they will frankly determine whether it is not time to call it quits. They must of course hope a separation, if that is what they decide, will not be even more contentious than staying in a bad marriage contracted in unplanned circumstances. What is not tenable now is for the school and its administrators to keep muddling through, hoping that somehow, by some evolutionary sleight of hand, the school can miraculously develop and soar in an atmosphere of war and conflict which do not engender great learning and research.

Source: The Nation


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