Students’ Union Movement: Threats and Oppression by University Managements
By Durodola Abiola EPORTAH
Nigerian tertiary institutions’ students’ union have continued to witness oppressions from their respective university managements and this has put the vibrancy of students’ union movement into test, as the tough time for students’ unionism on most campuses continue. Students’ movement continue to witness attacks from the university managements, suspension of students’ leaders and union activists has become the order of the day. They continue to instill fear in the mind of Nigerian students, and they seem to derive special joy in the continuous oppression of students.
On the 2nd and 3rd days of April 2016, the University of Lagos was shut down by the dictators who used their shenanigan power on the basis of students’ protests on poor welfare conditions. It will be recalled that this was the same reason the Obafemi Awolowo University was shut down in December 2015 and the subsequent suspension of all Union activities. Also students of the Premier University - University of Ibadan, recently staged a peaceful march to show their discontent over the welfare condition in their various halls of residence and this lead to suspension of a student union activist named MOTE. A similar event happened in UNIPORT where students protested to show their displeasure over the University management’s students-unfriendly policies and the result was the shutting down of the university by the toffs that occupy the university’s glass house. In the UNIPORT scenario, a student was even shot in the course of the protest by the seemingly careless policemen deployed to the scene of the protest.
Have we done any bad by voicing out our discontents? Have we done badly by informing the public what we are going through? I believe it is no wrong, maybe the leaders we have are not ready to understand the plight of students.
It is sardonic that Nigerian students now attend classes in place not meant for academic activities (like sport centres), or should we not talk about the poor state of our laboratories and the dilapidated blocks of classrooms some of us students take classes in? Is it a sin for me to tell the whole word that the hostel I inhabit is not conducive for living because there is erratic supply of water and light? Our leaders should know that it is not the wish of the students to stage protests or carry placards, and this is seen as a very last resort to inform them of the things that are needed to be put in place.
Students have a role to play in ensuring that the constant threats and oppression by university dons do not stay in our system, by making collective efforts and providing unequivocal support for our union leaders who are ready to fight for our cause.
Also, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) at the national level needs to start championing the campaign for better welfare condition and stop playing to the hands of politicians. NANS leadership at the national is now a shadow of itself and cannot even pull a string. Hopefully, the next NANS convention will provide new crop of leaders who would really tackle the problem of oppression by dons who occupy the building a radical writer once called 'SIN-NATE'.
Abiola Durodola, a Part four student of Obafemi Awolowo University.