Kazeem Olalekan Israel reminiscences on Obafemi Awolowo University’s lack of students’ union operations.
No doubt, the absence of a Union which is the only body uniting the mass of students is causing a whole lot of damage to the students in the hands of the University management considering the anti-students’ policies being brought against the students’ community without any form of resistance. As if the suspension of the Union is not enough, the tyrannical University management in their characteristic manner have continued to witch-hunt students that serve as stumbling block for them either by suspension or closure of portals (I am a victim of eportal closure) without an invitation into any disciplinary panel. The reason for this is not farfetched.
It is a known fact that when successive reactionary students’ union administration is in the mantle of leadership, the generality of students would be made to suffer for it which is what is being witnessed these days considering the threats flying round the four corners of the University.
It is so embarrassing that despite the fact that we are in examinations period, water supply was seized for good three days without the University management giving us explanation(s) as to why there was water scarcity. It need be stated that the management would have been quick to release a statement in communicating to the entire students’ populace if it were to be a threat of suspension to a student or if they were to announce/ release the Cumulative Grade Point Average otherwise known as CGPA of a student.
In the midst of the silence that is crawling amongst the students’ populace as a result of the threats of suspension and closure of portals and the pains being inflicted on the generality of students, it is no gainsaying that the University management are sitting on a keg of gunpowder considering the resistance that the students would be forced to embark on in their mass. This silence is for a while, it is not a sign of acceptance of the threats of the management but a revolutionary signal that there shall be uprising in the University community soon in resisting the anti-student policies of the management.
There is no gainsaying the fact that the present University management does not have the anti-dote to the numerous problems facing the mass of students but a complication of the mess that is on ground initially. The management has shown that they would continue in their quest to kill dissent and suppress public outcry by suspending students and closing the portal of some without a scintilla of proof of what the students have done wrong other than because they have chosen to speak against this oppressive University management that lacks merit and integrity. Whilst the students were going as far as about 1km in search of water for the three days that water was seized in halls of residence, whilst members of NASU, SSANU and NAAT are on strike action, and the students’ community engulfed in sufferings and hopelessness as a result of the hardship they are going through in the hands of the management, the University management is planning to decongest halls without providing alternative as to where decongested students would be occupying all in a bid to push the students into resuming into a session of doom, of suffering, of parochialism and of hardship.
The management has portrayed what their intention is in paragraph 2 of the release by the DSA dated January 10, 2018 Anno Domini that; *… any student who fails to secure bedspaces through this balloting process will have to look elsewhere for his or her own accommodation because squatting will not be allowed.*
This is a sheer display of ineptitude and incompetence as it exposes the antics of the management in making students responsible for the shortcomings of the government and school authority. Over the years, the students population (likewise staff) increased in numerical strength, however, the available facilities meant to serve the population remained stagnant thus leading to an overstretching of existing facilities. By this, facilities meant for unitary consumption were used by many thus leading to a breakdown of such facilities. It is also appalling that the maintenance system was poor in managing these facilities and as such, even the little available facilities are in poor state today making its use unfit for bondsmen, prisoners and slaves talk less of students.
However, in lieu of providing more facilities for the students, the management has embraced an option of cutting off its supply from the students. Today, students would be criminalized for squatting in federal government housing facilities in a country where we and our sponsors are tax payers.
Be it as it may, the singular act of reducing students who can live on campus is a threat to security of lives and properties of students as the school has little or nothing that can be done to address security of students off campus. Also, at a time when more students are out of keen watch, there exists a high tendency of cultism to breed among students and their tentacles can be spread across all student residential areas in Ife. Having more students off campus would equally lead to high cost of living as commercial facilities on campus which can be subjected to price monitoring will have ill patronage based on proximity in contrast to the vendors off campus.
What is greeting us today is discomfort and inconvenience for which our collective actions and silence would be written on tablets for the future generation to read. The management has embarked on the draconian actions to crumble our strength and rubbish the greatness of the institution, it is ours to choose what to protect or abandon.
The University management is not doing enough in guaranteeing the protection of the students being admitted on a yearly basis but rather, the management has continue to subject the students’ populace to series of attack. It need be stated at this point in time that the University management is dangerously close to leaving the students disillusioned as a result of their failure to subscribe to the fact that leadership involves a measure of deliberation, prudence and pragmatism. It is evident that the management has not laid out a single policy proposal on any of the major issues that concern thousands of students on campus.
We must all realise and admit that the hardship being unleashed on the students’ populace is a major source of worry and threat as this is not the first time the management would be working towards rendering the students useless without consideration ranging from the gross violation of our Fundamental Rights to Freedom of expression and the Press and that of association as enshrined in Section 39 and 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and now to decongestion of hostels without providing alternative.
However, if the reaction of the management towards squatting was designed to instill sanity and makes the University to beat the standard of Harvard, I am afraid it would have the opposite effect as students would be left in the evil hands of insecurity in town. Also, the language of the management as contained in the release of January 10, 2018 lack the depth of pragmatism and came across as an old letter merely resent without provision for alternative; a statement that did not ease the hardship of accommodation. One could easily tell that the management through the DSA was either unaware of the underlying intricacy of economic hardship or was all together not bothered enough as regards the danger attached with the decongestion policy. It thus appears the management has taken for granted the truth that solutions cannot be effective where the problem sought to be resolved remain largely misunderstood or blurred.
Kazeem Olalekan Israel (GANI),
Former Member of the Judicial Council, Great Ife Students’ Union. 2016/’17 Parliamentary Session, SSA on Media to the Senate President of National Association of University Students.
11th February, 2018.