Tuesday, 25 February 2014
OAU At 50: How Far, Thus Far
*For immediate and unconditional restoration of the students’ union
*Stop the intimidation of student activists now
Some days ago, the university administration rolled out its drums to mark the 50th anniversary of the institution. Contrary to their plans, the event was far off from being all-encompassing with a very low turn out at most of the events including the road walk held on Tuesday, 6th of November. The only event largely attended was the music show where a vast majority of students only saw it as a social activity and a time to relax after strenuous academic activities and not as a ‘celebration’ of the 50th anniversary.
The disenchantment displayed cannot be detached from the undemocratic manner in which the university is being run which cuts off a vast majority of students and other members of the university from the decision making process of the university. Students were not part of the planning of the event which revealed itself with the manner in which the anniversary ‘celebration’ held. There was shortage of the anniversary jersey which led to the few available being scrambled for as they were thrown. In addition to this was the sudden painting of buildings and walkways to create a false image of the University. This ridiculous situation is reminiscent of bourgeois politicking where politicians distribute items such as transformers, foodstuffs, clothing, e.t.c when elections are near to serve as cover for their inadequacies. Worse still, nobody has the slightest idea of the amount of resources gulped by the anniversary ‘celebration’. This underlines the need for the democratization of the decision making organs of the University including the financial structures. The decision making organs must include elected representatives of students, staff and other stakeholders in the university community. The poor participation is a resultant effect of the lacuna created by the absence of a collective platform of students which of course emphasizes the need for the immediate restoration of the students’ union.
The university administration having discovered this vacuum created by the absence of the students’ union ridiculously went as far as mobilizing ethnic associations through tips paid to their leaders, particularly for the Tuesday road walk. This was obviously aimed at faking a representation of students.
Ab initio, the question that comes to mind is the essence of the celebration. This is against the backdrop of debilitating living and studying conditions depicted by erratic water and power supply, poor sanitary system, overcrowded lecture theatres amongst others. In the past, asides the rich history of the union, OAU used to pride itself as Africa’s most beautiful campus owing to its glamorous architectural masterpiece. This has become history owing to poor funding of the university as well as mismanagement of funds by top paid officials of the University.
Conclusively, on the restoration of the students’ union, we reiterate our stance on the need for a transparent and democratic process in tandem with the democratic tenets and principles of independent unionism. We condemn the delay tactics employed by the administration and demand immediate elections to be conducted based on the provisions of the union constitution. From information gathered, the delay tactics employed by the university administration is aimed at providing a fertile ground for a planned fee hike in the coming session without opposition. We also reject the blackmail of the administration that the union has been destructive and irresponsible, hence the need for an elusive workshop. We rather hold that the continuous ban on the union has been caused by the high-handedness of the administration. Students have at no point in time vandalized school property while demonstrating. Infact, the union has always abhorred such acts and never hesitated to mete out appropriate penalties.
We also condemn in strong terms the iron fist method of the administration to clampdown on student activists who are joining other students in agitating for the immediate and unconditional restoration of the union. We condemn the recent attempt of the administration to intimidate some student activists with the invitation to a vindictive panel and alleging them of fomenting problems on campus.