LAUTECH: Oyo, Osun and the way forward…

Source: Seun David Onigbinde (Twitter: @seunonigbinde), Lead Partner @BudgITng,

The incentive of the Nigerian political class is always displaced because their interests are never invested in the system. Let's be real, could any of Ajimobi or Aregbesola’s children attend LAUTECH; when there are Universities in Manchester, Oxford and Cambridge (US/UK)? This is why students will sit-in for months because the states have failed in their responsibilities.

For me, the case is quite simple. Osun State does not have the financial capacity to run LAUTECH. Osun is always around #28 on the FAAC allocation sheet and if you take the heavy deductions for its “loans”, for most months, it has gone away with negative allocations.

Recent interventions in Paris Debt Club and multiple bailout has helped Osun State. It has even prolonged the funds by paying half salary, earning its Governor, a nickname, "Baba Half-usa".

This post is not to knock Osun because Oyo State with its salary arrears has not even fared better in any way. In fact, all South West states with exception of Lagos can't fulfil a basic duty of salary payments.

However, if LAUTECH will function properly, isn’t it better to abandon this current arrangement where its ownership is by Oyo and Osun States? Ekiti fought this battle to keep UNAD and won but Oyo kept pushing the timid lines, which drove Osun to forge ahead and create another University, in addition to tertiary institutions in Iree, Ilesa, Ila Orangun, Esa Oke. Can Osun fund two Universities? Does Lagos with its fiscal width even fund two Universities?

However, politicians hardly do anything bold because expediency must be kept. This is why the conversations will still be on; finding "a solution or setting up a panel" on LAUTECH while students chip away their years. Remember, Oyo is also mulling a technical University, making LAUTECH, no man's University.

My solutions:

1) Call a stakeholder meeting and privatize the University. If we take a second-generation Federal University as standard for LAUTECH, it will need a budget of at least N10bn to run yearly. Both states can effectively admit that the states can't run the University. Make it private.

2) Oyo and Osun can split the assets - the University & the Teaching Hospital. Oyo will still have a fairer share and can raise a bond to pay Osun over few years. Oyo can forget that technical university for now.

Anything else is kicking the can down the road. These states are mostly surviving on oil rent and the earlier they cut their costs, the more the future generation will thank them.