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Thursday, June 1, 2023

LAUTECH: Protest rocks Ogbomoso over relocation of agriculture faculty

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Scores of Ogbomoso indigenes on Monday trooped out to major areas in the town to express their displeasure over the planned relocation of the faculty of agricultural sciences at Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso, to the newly established Iseyin campus of the institution.

Oyo state government had perfected plans to relocate the faculty of agriculture in the university to Iseyin campus.

The Iseyin campus was recently established by the state government.

The indigenes of the town again in the early hours of Monday gathered at Soun Ogunlola Hall to kick against the planned relocation of the faculty.

The protest was organised by the apex socio-cultural group in the town christened Egbe Omo Ogbomoso Parapo Agbaaye.

The protesters noted that what they were against is taking an existing faculty (that is 33 years old) from Ogbomoso to Iseyin when an entirely new one can be established in the Oke-Ogun community.

Several speakers hammered on these points and others, each rounding his speech off with an appeal to the state governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde, to abort the decision and take some of the new faculties proposed to Iseyin campus.

Chairman of Ogbomoso Parapo home zone, Prince Aderemi Olude who represented the national president, underlined the fact that Ogbomoso people have nothing against either Governor Makinde or Iseyin people affirming the protest was just to state the popular opinion that the plan rather is anti Ogbomoso.

“All those who are against this protest are traitors, they are saboteurs, I declare the land of Ogbomoso would swallow them in the name of Jesus, in the name of Prophet Muhammed, in the name of Orunmila.

“We are not fighting government. These same saboteurs are now saying we did not take action in time that it is already late, yet they were the ones that refused to facilitate our planned meeting with the governor for dialogue on the matter, we went to them several times.

President of Ogbomoso Community Youth Forum (OCYF) Rev’d Peter Olaleye who read a speech titled, “Why relocation of faculty of agricultural sciences LAUTECH Ogbomoso is undesirable,” also emphasized Ogbomoso is not fighting anyone and that they were not against the university being turned into a multi campus one but that their concern is moving a foundation faculty, which he posited would leave Ogbomoso poorer.

His speech in full, “We are not fighting the government of His Excellency, Engr Seyi Makinde as erroneously believed by some of our fathers. Rather we are trying to engage the government through this medium since we aren’t able to meet him.
“It’s only to state our views on a matter that affects our community moreover its economy and wellbeing. We will thus be unpatriotic if we fail to state our view on it. Protest is inherent to democracy.

“Let me state clearly that we are not against the university being turned into a multi campus one neither are we opposed to take off of Iseyin campus, never!

“Rather, what we advocate is to start the new faculties being planned in Iseyin or any other place (s). That will afford the new campus to grow in accordance with available facilities.

“But removing a foundation faculty (agricultural sciences) that is 33years old that is on ground already, with several facilities, infrastructure, experimental farms, research farms, donated research centres, buildings etc as nucleus of a satellite campus is what we are opposed to. It will amount to colossal waste of resources, which is avoidable. We have Ghana Building donated to the faculty of agric by Ogbomosos in Ghana, there is the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN) outstation donated by FRIN for research, there is a Bee Hall and others which will become moribund if the faculty is moved as envisaged. That is part of the reason we say begin new faculties elsewhere and not disrupt an existing viable one. It is like caring and training your child for 33 years and you now throw him or her away saying government has promised you a new child. Does it make sense?

“In addition, the faculty of agric Ogbomoso is home to over 10,000 persons made up of lecturers, non-teaching staff and students. Taking that number out over time will certainly harm the economy and wellness of Ogbomoso that relies on LAUTECH solely for its economic buoyancy. Hostel/house owners, transporters, traders, contractors, hoteliers and so on will experience humongous economic losses. We are talking of removing 10,000 people from a population! Look at millions in salaries and allowances for students’ upkeep these 10,000 people pump into Ogbomoso monthly. Only an unpatriotic person will ask that we do not talk.

“This is not a fight against the administration of Gov Makinde but a medium to present reasons why the proposal is undesirable. Governor Makinde has been good to Ogbomoso and that’s why we voted en masse for him in the last election. But as a democrat he won’t oppose to this agitation. He also protested in PDP when his party acted autocratically in the choice of presidential candidate.

“It is risky moving a viable faculty believing new ones will come. This same government promised at its inception that at least a flyover will be built in Ogbomoso before its first tenure ends, the first tenure has ended, it didn’t fulfill the promise perhaps due to other competing matters. Our fathers say a bird in hand is worth two in the bush. That’s why we cannot rely on a promise of new faculties while what is already available is taken away. The parable of a 33 years old trained child comes to mind here again. Begin new faculty (ies) elsewhere.

“Moreover, it is going to be a dangerous precedence. In future another governor will come and say because the people of this community voted for me l dash them this faculty from LAUTECH. We don’t want the institution to turn into a prize for political patronage. So, the right thing is to begin new faculties or universities elsewhere. After all the neighboring Ogun state has about three autonomous universities. Why not adopt that format. Osun State University some are referring to started as a multi-campus institution but LAUTECH took off as a mono-campus university.

“That LAUTECH continues to enjoy good rating as best state university and indeed one of the best in the country is down to its compact nature and the contribution by this same faculty of agric. Which multi campus university ever enjoys such sound rating?

“Family dislocations. Staff who had settled in Ogbomoso, built houses, have their children in schools here and you now force them elsewhere separating the families when it can be avoided is condemnable. Students too, l know of a family whose four children are in agric at LAUTECH; they live with their parents and are not allowed to rent hostel rooms just to cut costs, if you now move them to Iseyin, you can imagine the inconveniences.

“We reiterate we are not opposed to development in Iseyin and we are not fighting Gov Makinde over the issue what we are against is what will harm our community. That is what patriotism demands. We are patriotic sons and daughters of Ogbomoso. Whoever opposes us is unpatriotic”.

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