As I recuperate from the ordeal of my suspension, it is incumbent to keep the generality of Great Ife students and the Nigerian students, who stood fervently and offered all forms of support, informed of recent development as regards our reinstatement and the state of our union.
My suspension, a parody of justice and fairness, is a development which consistently keeps me perturbed of what the future holds for our dear country and the institutions which should inculcate the value of patriotism, spirit of social responsibility and virtue of political consciousness but have decided to breed men who are coerced to strictly adhere to the status quo even in the face of high moral and institutional decadence.
I’m more curious of this institutional and social decadence than my suspension, as the suspension itself is one of the by-products of oppression and instrumentalities used to silence any voice of progressiveness and activism.
Sequel to numerous interventions and appeals from well-meaning Nigerians, great Nigerian students, progressive arms of our community, and the media, the university has decided to reduce the 6 and 4 respective semesters’ suspension of the 3 leaders of the Students’ Union to one semester each and directed us to resume academic activities by Harmattan semester of the 2015/2016 session.
Putting issues in the right perspective, November 2015, Great Ife students started a campaign against inimical welfare conditions on campus, an agitation that erupted after several diplomatic approaches had yielded no result. The students and the union have consistently expressed their abhorrence on the collapsing structures, moribund municipal facilities and outdated learning infrastructure through releases, in meetings and even the media before embarking on a one day peaceful lecture boycott which lasted for less than 12hrs. The protest received wide media coverage and the world was aghast at the living condition of students on the Obafemi Awolow University (OAU) campus.
The Congress of Students after the boycott directed that further diplomatic approaches be used. This negates the notion that students wanted to disrupt coronation and convocation.
The management issued a mid-semester break notification and subsequently suspended the activities of the Students’ Union days after.
Union leaders were invited to a panel on the acclaimed assault of a university professor and the aftermath was the suspension of the President, Secretary General and PRO of the Students’ Union.
After the suspension, consultations and diplomacy being the first approach to all struggles were still employed to ensure our reinstatement was achieved. This is also in view of ensuring that a stable academic calendar is not jettisoned as we recognize this as another germane interest of students.
The list will be too long but it is important to salute the doggedness of Great Ife students who consistently showed support and whose interests remain number one priorities.
I must recognize the astute intervention of our most revered Royal Father, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja 11, The Ooni of Ife. Professor YK Yusuf and The Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) OAU branch for their consistent guidance and intervention whose role in our reinstatement cannot be over-emphasized.
Leaders of religious and departmental organizations have shown unprecedented concern and have in their respective capacity never stopped offering their support and encouragement. Others include members security agencies who showed restraint, student leadership among the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), and other student leaders.
No amount of victimization or criminalization can deter me from my conviction of the essence of affordable qualitative education and a politically conscious students’ body. This will continue to spur me to continually register my abhorrence at all level to government anti-students and anti-education policies and constructively champion a moral course for better welfare condition and human capital development.
The struggle continues, the restoration of the Students’ Union activities is a collective responsibility, as students’ freedom of association must not be infringed upon. Students must unionize; we should not think of carrying on without that collective platform. We should demand for the restoration of an independent students’ union through an immediate Student Union election.
Omotayo Akande (TY)
@Tayo_Akande, [email protected], 08027728756
500L Chemical Engineering Department
President, Great Ife Students’ union.