Saturday, 9 July 2016

#ReopenOAU: Analysing Objections

By Gracious Egedegbe
Friday, 08 July 2016, Ile Ife

Following an overstretched break ensued by the dissolution of the Governing Council of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), resulting in a protracted and excruciating delay, OAU students recently launched a campaign tagged #ReOpenOAU. The #ReOpenOAU campaign has been on for three days with thousands of students, alumni, colleagues from other universities, stakeholders and sympathisers actively involved. The aim has to be flood the cyberspace with tweets, Facebook posts and pictures demanding that the school be reopened. Earlier, the Association of Campus Journalist (ACJ), who brought the initiative, announced that it would broaden the demands to include Constitution of a new governing council. Appointment of an acting VC, and a Probe into the affairs of the university in the last five years and monitor activities thereafter.

However, this campaign has come under heavy criticism from different quarters, the most pronounced coming from those who call themselves ideologists. They have expressed different reasons for their disapproval. One of them is that the hashtag, the cynosure of the campaign, should read #OAUdemandsanActingVC amongst other alternatives. They also allege that ACJ executives, who pioneered the campaign and are currently coordinating it, are not being sincere in the campaign. They insinuate that the executives are being bought over to cooperate with the selfish interests of other parties.

At this point one must examine how valid these objections are.

The hashtag #ReOpenOAU is both brief and effective. It adequately sums up the demands of OAU students. Furthermore, it is clear to the discerning that reopening the school will involve the constitution of a new governing council and appointment of a VC, even if temporarily. Besides, the hashtag is employed for the sake of simplicity and uniformity. Participants are allowed to inject their views, experiences and solutions in addition to the hashtag.

The allegation against ACJ executives has been described as an unfounded speculation and a malicious rumour with a view to distract the coordinators and destabilise the campaign. The allegation was disparaged due to the reputable characters of the executive, proven over a long period. That the allegation is based on a phone call construed to have come from a party with a political interest has further reduced its credibility.

It would seem to all appearances that these sets of persons, referred to as ideologists are irked by the fact that they are not privy to the coordination of the campaign. Extending this argument, they fear that ACJ has reduced their relevance in the OAU polity. They label the campaign as attention seeking on the part of ACJ and other bodies actively taking part in it. As such, they think that by raising a dissenting call, they might accrue to themselves some needed attention. This is both immature and unbecoming of any student of OAU.

There is the alternative narrative that these persons want an encompassing organisation of the campaign. They want the campaign to be opened to all in planning and actualization.

Their position might be understood in the sense that they feel the coordination is not encompassing and managed by an elitist few. However, they must also understand that there are avenues to air their grievances and offer opinions and recommendations. For effective coordination, it is best that there are a set of people accountable rather than allow for a jumbled organisation and resulting ineffectiveness. The crux is that they cannot always expect their recommendations will be acted upon.

On the allegations, it could also be that these sets of people are innocent in character and really have the interest of OAU students at heart. If that is so, they should be thorough with their investigations before attempting to disrupt what has been a great advantage to the OAU cause. Furthermore, they should learn to accept in good faith, whatever policies are enacted. While they are entitled to their personal opinions and actions, they should not express such in a way that would kill the campaign or at best, weaken it. Finally, they should know that not all of their suggestions will be accepted and know when to withdraw their agitations.

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