The ASUU extended holidays are over and we are onto the thick of things in the various activities that will come with this semester. Hall weeks, Faculty weeks, Jihad week and several other programs here and there save one; the student union week.
As every politically conscious student on campus knows, this is because our Students’ Union has been axed by the management for reasons best known to them.The implications of this are so numerous that even this editorial cannot contain them all. Nevertheless, there are others that are so glaring that they just cannot be neglected. That is the nemesis of students’ victimization.
With the presence of a Union, students had a voice to influence the University’s decisions. Talk of the ‘No Hike in Fees’ campaign led by the last administration, it is glaring how much we can achieve through fighting for a cause with one voice and leveraging on our numbers. But now that the SU is no more, no one is there to fill the vacuum, which will result in the management’s effort to quell all students’ radical voices. And this is a slap to democracy if the management believes in one.
If the management had felt some students had violated their laid down policies, why not take them up individually instead of making the innocents pay. It is a clear case of gross misuse of power which is ironical to our motto “rectesaperefons” which has dubiously been misinterpreted to mean for character and sound judgment. That is another topic for another day.It is for this reason that students will be caged in fear to express themselves simply because an SDC spy may just be next door.
Let us face it, no Nation can ever move forward without their radical voices. It was the radical act of Late Nelson Mandela that made South Africa overcome apartheid. It was Martin Luther king junior’s and several other radicals that liberated the Negro in America. It was this same radicalism that won Nigeria its independence. So why is the management trying to kill what revolutionized the essence of our existence? At least, it was not long ago they, as scholars and university staff, expressed their grievances over an agreement the Federal Government failed to meet up with. So, why could they not just allow a peaceful protest as the ‘No ID card No exam” be? This is a clear case of double standard.
Fine, the students also have faulted. Some may have taken the case too far even after the university management released a statement calling for peace. But a Yoruba Parlance goes thus, ‘orí bíbé kìí se oògùn orífífó’, meaning that the separation of the head from its body is never an antidote to a headache. The Management is surely more experienced than the lads that constituted the congress, there should have been more diplomatic ways to quell the situation. Telling the whole world that you deflated their ‘gragra’ is out of it. You portray your students as weak; feeble cocoons that cannot stand up to fight injustice. But please put this at the back of your mind, who will come to your defense when your bones and intellectual enthusiasm have been brought to book by old age? The crops of this same generation whose ‘gragra’ you had deflated, it seems.
This piece does not wish to paint the university management in a bad light, but to bring to our minds the things that seem not to be amiss, while indeed they are amiss. Several students have been served SDC letters at random simply because they aired their view. Innocents are among them. But that does not seem to concern the gate keepers.
If you still do not understand why this semester is less something, let us perhaps touch on more salient issues. In the many seatings of the last crop of senators in the hallowed chambers, several ground breaking bills were passed. One of them is the Special Persons Bill sponsored by then Chief Whip, Hon. Asiwaju, now (suspended) speaker. This bill was to cater for special students and their representatives having a say in the affairs of the students’ union. We have not seen a replica of that in the state house of assembly. Here is someone who is thinking big for the people. Why then should the management quench such a voice?
Another is the Security Bill sponsored by Hon. Boniface. This was a fool proof plan to strengthen security on campus; an issue that has so over-burdened the security unit popularly known as ‘Abefele’. It was in the event of the suspension of the union that we witnessed a startling episode of theft and burglary. We had that of some armed messengers visiting Awo hall at dawn to break a heartbreaking dawn on its occupants. Of course, our security officer present was not able to intervene. Just in a matter of days, Bello hall woke up to the terror that its shops had been burgled. We are yet to find the perpetrators. Talk of Indy, the tale is just too bitter to swallow. But if the Union was in place, these are issues that could have been mitigated.
We would love to reel out many more achievements that have been overlooked, but we would hang it there. And for the students of this prestigious institution, let us not think everything is okay. It is not. Someone can come to burgle your room at any time with no hope that your report will ever be looked into. A ballistic SDC can come your way courtesy a misunderstanding of matters. Innocents get punished too sometimes. A cocoon of the underworld may spring up just to protect their interests. These and many more lie ahead of this union-less semester.
All hope, however, is not lost. As they say that there is nothing in this world that is ever new, so is the case of our suspended union. Before the SU regained its status seven years ago, the Union of Campus Journalists had always been there to protect students’ right through our pen. We are thus restating our commitment to always champion freedom by the pen. The semester is not Union-less after all, but let us all tread with care.