Students’ unionism in Nigeria was known to be a force to be reckoned with. In the sweet old days, students, through their union were known to stand firm in criticizing the injustice of our leaders, thereby effecting major changes.
There were instances when the authorities clashed with students when diplomatic precautions failed to work; the 1978 ABU students riots quickly came to mind. During the uprising, the lives of many students were lost while agitating for the ouster of the then education minister, Colonel Ahmadu Ali. The “Ali Must Go” riot like many in those days was a landmark achievement by student unionism in Nigeria. It opened up the eyes of our leaders to the fact that students know their rights and can fight against oppression, no matter the intimidation.
History is repeating itself here in the premier university- the first and the best. The University of Ibadan Students’ Union in its intellectual way of fighting for its members’ right staged a peaceful protest on 29th of May, 2017, putting into consideration victimization of students, payment for I.D card that has not been issued for the past three semesters, ban on the use of hot plates in the halls of residence.
On the issue of the victimization: victimization of students by the school management has been growing feathers day-in day-out, every case worse than the last. The voicelessness of students goes a long way to attest to the fact that there is a deep cancer in the university system- a system where students live in fear and have to play their ways through almost everything which would in the end result in a generation that totally believes in corruption. No one now sees things as anything. They believe it’s like a rite of passage for every student in Nigeria, that it’s just how it is and everyone should just play along and just graduate without any obstruction in the academic calendar.It’s high time we stood up, spoke up and never shut up. Though, our union has been suspended which may render us voiceless and powerless, I want to remind us that we are in the 21st century where we have easy access to the social media and news media houses. We(students) need to start acting, rather than allowing our ‘constituted authorities’ to take away our voices.
Furthermore, on the issue of identity card, It is high time we blew the whistle against the management of University of Ibadan since the school management has decided to collect the money without rendering the service from about 30, 000 students. Collecting N2000 for ordinary plastic I.D card from about 30,000 students will amount to N60,000, 000 as the summation. Logically, what type of I.D cards does this bogus amount want produce other than ‘identity’? Even the ATM cards are issued by banks with N1,050 only. Let us stand up against corruption; let us say no to corruption because these are the group of people that criticize the government, yet they are the fathers of corruption!
Moreover, the issue of hotplate which can be categorized under electrical appliances, is clearly stated in the Student Information Handbook in Chapter 6 under the Electrical Appliances heading. This provision allows the use of electrical appliances in kitchenettes only. The use of hot plate as an electrical appliance is not expressly disallowed, but the school authority has chosen to make its use illegal.
However, I believe the school will have its own reasons, but not at the explicit of a documented hand book. According to a reliable historical source, I was made to understand that sometimes around 2013 under the then Vice Chancellor and current Minister of Health, Prof. Isac Adewole, his administration converted a room from each floor of every particular block in all halls of residence into kitchenettes and hot plates were placed there. But after few months, all the hot plates got damaged and since then, the school management has not deemed it fit to replace any of them. And now, our ‘honorable’ Professor Abel Olayinka’s-led-administration has come to prohibit the use of hot plates in the kitchenettes!
I will conclude by urging all human right activists,lawyers, both local and international organisations, UI Alumni association and conscious individuals to come to the aid of the students of the so-called first Univeristy in Nigeria so as to save us from the hands of the oppressors who coat themselves as professors and believe their decisions are final. Many ‘UITES’ have been unduly suspended and some even expelled outrightly. The corruption here in the University of Ibadan is becoming unbearable and these cabals must be made to know that they are civil servants and not Monarchs or gods!!!