Wednesday, 30 July 2014

An Open Letter To President Ibikunle Isaac

Dear Mr. President,

Hello Honourable Isaac Ibikunle, I hope you are doing well. How is the business of student activism going? You must be proud of yourself now. Your popularity scale has increased immensely. The last time I searched your name on Google, I saw very interesting posts about you. From news about your protest where a former militant allegedly shot at students, to photos of the protests that led to the school’s closure.. Lest I forget, I love that photo of you I found on the internet, you wore a black suit and looked confident, the look of someone prepared to take over the world.

It is important to note that I have known you since I was in Angola hall as a part 1 student. Then, you were the hall chairman and you exuded exceptional leadership qualities in the Great Ife style. Some months back when you approached me to discuss your candidacy, I gave you my full support without thinking twice. My only reason was that I believed in you. I still believe in you sir and still have your back. Nevertheless, I won’t mind us addressing some issues.

Like President Goodluck Jonathan, you inherited huge and numerous problems. Let me make it clear, the problem of this great nation is not the government but the people because the people make up the government. One of the problems you inherited is ‘Awo Boys’. The other is a group of passive students who lack interest in how things are run within the university. Both parties have their advantages and disadvantages.

Judging from comments I got from my last article, it is obvious that 90 percent of OAU students don’t have a problem with the increase in school fees. Maybe I should put it this way, most students are not thanking you and your team for sending us home again and wasting our precious time.

The question is whose problem is it that we are home now? The school management? The student union? ‘Awo boys(Most of who have the major attendance at congresses?) Or the passive students who will rather sit on the fence and watch events unfold, then complain when things go wrong.
According to reports, the school management is acting on orders from above, if you know what that means? The same order from above that recently delayed former Minister of Education Oby Ezekwesili from boarding her flight when she was going to London for the BBC Hard Talk programme. The same order from above that has consistently humiliated Governor Godswill Akpabio. The same order from above that almost destroyed the career of former CBN Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi whom before was the stone that the builders rejected and has now turned the head corner stone. I’m sure you get the drift now.

Unconfirmed reports have it that orders from above have directed Federal Universities to find means of generating internal revenue. Orders from above are now saying “education cannot be free again. It is reducing the amount of money we embezzle. And we can’t forfeit our life of luxury just because some people want quality education. Not in our life time.”

Yes, OAU has a tradition – it is the school for the poor. Let me remind you that tradition is a major enemy of progress. As much as we know that the excuse for increasing the school fees logically doesn’t guarantee us quality education, we are not ignorant of the fact that, 21st century education has gone past paying N7,000 as school fees and N3,090 for accommodation.

We are fighting for the less privileged right? The bible even says, the poor will always be among us. What it further states clearly is that the rich should help the less privileged. So instead of embarking on a struggle that we know will lead us nowhere like the previous ones, we should have found a way to ask the school management to provide plans to cater for the less privileged and make ‘quality’ education less of a burden for them.

Truth be told, ‘all these protests we are sharing’ will lead us nowhere. Remember the fuel subsidy protest? What was the outcome? Remember ASUU strike? What was the outcome? The latest one is #bringbackourgirls. It’s over 100 days now but our girls are still nowhere to be found.

You think we’ll get empathy from people? Bros, nah lie o. Everyman for himself. You have to work out your own salvation. No one is ready to fight for us now. Nigeria’s got so many problems that we don’t even know which one to tackle first.

When I was growing, my father made me have just one prayer point – Dear Lord, please grant me wisdom, knowledge and understanding. Sir, this is very important. We must never let our background put us on the ground. Before someone casts a stone at me, I know what my father went through to pay my current school fees. Just gave you that information to let you know I’m also one of the less privileged that you are fighting for. The fact is, there comes a point in a man’s life when he determines that where he is coming from doesn’t decide where he is going. Check out most of the guys running things on campus, their parents are not the richest peeps out there. Most of us have just made a decision that no matter what happens, we will work hard, chase out the poverty in us, and be rich too someday.

Also Mr. President for those passive ones blaming you for sending us home and creating all sort of display pictures of you on BBM, you should tell them that they are the greatest fools on earth. Where were they when we held congresses and ‘awo boys’ voted that we embark on protest. Maybe if some of them had attended just one congress, they would have been reasonable enough to give us ideas on how to fight for our rights without being sent out of school after spending six months at home due to ASUU strike last year.

While our time is being wasted, our lecturers are ‘chopping the head of their life’ and will still receive their full salaries. Maybe when we eventually resume they’ll say they want 200 days leave in order to rest and be mentally, physically and psychologically prepared for the semester. Maybe senior lecturers will complain of being underpaid and then embark on a strike. Maybe non-academic staff will launch their own industrial action. Oh, my favourite, maybe ASUU will find one more reason to fight the Federal Government. And once again, we will be at home telling our neighbours the same old story. ‘Omo OAU e ro nu’ (OAU students, think!).

By the way sir, who are you supporting in the forthcoming Osun State gubernatorial elections? Senator Iyiola Omisore or Ogbeni Aregbe? I’m sure one of them would have approached you. Anyway, anything for your boy? I won’t mind a share of the national cake? After all, it’s our money. I still remain loyal boss.

 In other news, Ebola virus is here. What plans do you have for students when we resume?

The writer of this Open Letter, Olabode Emmanuel Olawumi is an Art student of Obafemi Awolowo University. You can reach Olabode through his e-mail:
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