This Victimization Must Not Distract The Struggle - Suspended OAU Students
THIS VICTIMISATION MUST NOT DISTRACT THE STRUGGLE
“At times, we may be too weak to prevent injustice, but we must never be weary to protest it.”
Last week, we all received notifications from the Division of Students’ Affairs of pending letters from the university administration. To our utter dismay, the letters carried headings of clear witch-hunting, victimization, and unnecessary intimidation, and disguised as different categories of suspension. Exclusively, eight of us were served indefinite suspension pending police investigation over a purported "abduction" of Abeeb Alabi Olayinka (Angel), Chairman of Students' Electoral Commission in April 2014. Wole Olubanji (Engels), Adabale Olamide, Ademuwagun Johnson, Ibirogba Samuel (Sammy), Olusiji Nelson (Mandela), Pele Obasa (Chocomilo), Sanyaolu Oluwajuwon and Abimbola Abiodun (Anchor) were all served letters of indefinite suspension under this category.
In the same vein, all members of the Central Executive Council (CEC), including the Clerk of the Parliament and several students’ activists (including those ones earlier served indefinite suspension) were also served these vindictive letters under another category called “rustication.” For this category, the university administration classified it as punishment for act of misconduct for participating in the Students’ protest of May/June 2014. As a funny development, the university went ahead in this same letter to inform us that the rustication order has been suspended because of several “appeals” and “we are hereby placed under probation so that the university management can observe our readiness to comply with rules of the university.”
Please note that these rules, given the interpretation of the vindictive letters, mean that it is unlawful for students to reject or protest obnoxious policies of the university, even if such protests are legitimate and guaranteed under the constitution and laws of the Federal republic. In short, engaging in students' struggles is criminal!
In strict conformity with previous vindictive arrangements of the university administration, the arguments on which the various suspension orders are premised are not only flimsy, but self-destructive. It also confirms that the exercise is designed to witch-hunt students’ activists and to cow their colleagues into submission over the unresolved issue of school fee-hike.
Firstly, the indefinite suspension order over Students’ Union elections in April and the fictitious allegation of abduction of Abeeb Alabi Olayinka (Angel), Chairman of Electoral Commission of 2013/2014 parliamentary year, is unwarranted and cruel. In fact, it is an arrangement of the University Administration to protect their agent and dissuade students in the future from challenging the excessive interference of the management in Students’ Union activities. As against all known norms of our union, including clearly entrenched provisions of Article 5 of the Students’ Union constitution, Angel went ahead to disqualify students’ activists under the directive of the university management. When students approached him for explanations for this clear departure from union values, he said his hands were tied and the “disqualification was beyond him.” In an event the university management later termed as abduction, mass of students had gathered at Afrika Amphi Theatre to demand from Angel why the names of screened candidates would be arbitrarily dropped from the election debate activity. A number of Great Ife students can bear witness to the subsequent development of questioning, which was moderated by Angel himself. This action in the university dictionary of language is called “abduction.” Does it mean that the mass of students involved in questioning of Angel were abductors?
We are however not surprised that the Omole-led administration has reverted back to the barbaric regime of sheer blackmail, character assassination and blatant lies. These are known attributes of the OAU management, especially wielded when students defend themselves against obnoxious policies threatening their study and welfare. Management had thought that the disqualification of dissenters, who resent unjust and undemocratic policies of the university, would pave the way for little or no resistance against a prospective fee hike, which came barely a month after the students’ union election. Alas! Management miscalculated. Students protested, because they are not oblivious of reason and are not ignorant of what is right, just and acceptable. This time: the thinking is that with the suspension of students’ activists who have argued for continuous action until the hike is reversed, and the incrimination of students’ protest as the probation order means, then the resistance of students against the fee would have been completely broken. Management desperately wants us out of campus, with the phantasmagoric belief that students would not think rightly when some of us are not on campus. This is a wrong and mechanical mode of thinking. Take us off; Great Ife students will defend themselves to the latter!
Though the university might have shut the university gates against us, but they can never shut our mouths, and the words that come out of them against oppression, injustice, and conscious destruction of thousands of lives. For us, the election fraud, probation drama, and vindictive letters of suspension are all offshoots of our struggle. And they are clear indication that management fears the unknown, and the unpredictable power of mass of students. Why should the management not fear when history has the long but tenacious battle of our LASU colleagues against vicious authorities, including the deserved victory at the end of it?
What is worth fighting at all is worth fighting well. The demand of the university that we should take responsibility for the crass ineptitude of the scoundrels misruling this country is unacceptable, irritating to common sense; and it is worth fighting hard and well. Government should fund education, not our poor parents, who earn N18, 000 as minimum wage and mostly live on less than $2 per day. We hence advise the university to reverse its vicious policy, which has already deprived some of our colleagues from coming back to school. The ridiculous reduction in fee is a placebo to give us the erroneous impression that the disease has been cured. Great Ife! Do not be deceived, the dangers of fee-hike are not imaginative, but real. Neither reduction nor the filthy hands of witch-hunt must dissuade us from this just cause. History is with us.
We should state clearly to Great Ife students that we do not so wish to cultivate martyrdom nor heroism as these are not part of the norms and values of our union. But we greatly wish not to give our management the satisfaction of this imperious but vindictive action. Colleagues, as with the generation before us, who laid the foundation of the greatness of our campus and union on tenacity and readiness to oppose injustice: the ball is in our court and the hard decisions are only ours to make.
We thank Great Ife students for the opportunities given us to serve, and we leave you with these legendary words of Frantz Fannon; “every generation, out of relative obscurity, has a mission – its either they fulfill it or betray it!”
Amandla Awethu… Nothing shall discourage us!!!
Wole Olubanji (Engels),
Ibirogba Samuel (Sammie)
Sanyaolu Oluwajuwon(Com. Juwon)