Skip to main content

Why UNILAG Must Immediately #RestoreULSU By Segun O'Law

April 24, 2016

One of the various social-psychological theories explaining the basis for aggressive responses is the frustration-aggression assumption, which justifies that people resort to aggressive behaviors when overly frustrated. Frustration is usually occasioned by unattended needs which have caused psychological discomfort, displeasures, dissatisfaction and of course, would lead to physical reactions.


The human body is, by nature, irritable. So, once an unattended need degenerates into extreme human discomfort, expect reactions. It’s natural. But not to react is even dangerous. If a historic backlog of bottled up anger suddenly explodes, the outcome is more catastrophic. 

From the pyramid of needs in the model developed by Abraham Maslow; Hierarchy of Needs, the first and the very least need is the basic "physiological needs" which include feeding, clothing, shelter, mating (s*x), etc. They are the least, the very least because they make up human’s basic “survival” needs. After surviving, Maslow recognized that the human is then motivated to pursue other higher needs such as safety or security needs, social or affiliation needs, esteem needs and then the self-actualization needs. 

That leads us to the question; what type of graduates is the University of Lagos (UNILAG) aiming to produce, Year-in and year-out? The types that cannot pursue self-actualization needs? How do you progress to higher human needs if you can’t even primarily survive? The environment created here is inherently inimical to survival, let alone allow for the actualization of ideal self. UNILAG Professors know this - trust me!

Let’s come home to the protest that led to the closure of the school by the authorities at UNILAG. Students were only asking for basic physiological or “survival” needs. Water and electricity? But the officials understand the simple language differently. The misrepresentation of students demand by the authorities is not innocent, nor ignorant, but deliberately mischievous. If UNILAG authorities do not have answers to the demands, there are other acceptable ways to communicate this, other than employing a rather, unimpressive, Ego Defense Mechanism.

Shutting down the school as a result of students reaction to unattended needs is never an acceptable answer to the situation. To even worsen it, rising from an “emergency meeting” only to suspend student’s union without any rational basis gives off the institution cheaply to global disappointment. And looking at the forms students and parents are asked to fill for “reabsorption” makes one ask “who took the decisions at that emergency meeting?” 

Rudeness not intended, please. We only deserve to know what basis lead to it. The last memo shutting down the school only said “academic activities” were suspended, not students. So, are we reabsorbing the "academic activities” that was suspended or reabsorbing students who were not suspended in the first instance? No, why are parents required to sign indemnity forms? At this age, UNILAG authorities won’t even treat the students as adults. Would they still require their old adults to sign for their adults? A Certain epigrammatic statement would say; “the boy is now the father of his father”, meaning now that we are adults, we become parents for our parents and are now taking care of them. Hence, we reject the insinuation by the UNILAG authorities that we are not capable even as adults, while also asking the basis to sign an indemnity form - what was damaged, please? 

The last memo before this "emergency school reopening”, the Management only said it was to forestall peace, not stating whether anything was damaged. I wasn’t on campus during the protests until I learned the school was shut, but nowhere I saw had any damage. Students, since I came into UNILAG have always conducted themselves in a peaceful manner; there can only be damage where touts are sponsored to mingle with peaceful protesters.

The need for Students’ Union leadership is unarguable. 

First, it is the first platform students have to demonstrate leadership skills before they are thrown into the society. It is what students are exposed to while on campus that they take with them into the society. Why are Primary Six dropouts Local Government Chairmen and "School Cert” holders Party Chairmen, SSG, etc? It is largely because the graduates are not well prepared for leadership right from school. 

While undergraduates are only busy reading theories in schools, idle school leavers or dropouts look for politicians to follow, and they take it from there. If we are only to take orders while in Primary School and had some education while in Secondary School, the Higher Institutions are meant for “leadership preparedness enrollment.” But we are always missing it in Nigeria, especially in the University of “ the first choice”. Let’s begin to get it right, let’s #RestoreULSU

Second, the Union is the collective voice of students. Management of the institution can not be executed by the authorities alone. If students don’t have inputs, the only thing you’d see is what has manifested - autocracy. So, let’s #RestoreULSu

Third; innovations, the community, and of course the University Community comprises two generations; the old and the young (old adults and young adults). The old are always complacent and desire to maintain "status quo", but the young are constantly yearning for "change." The status quo has some inherent good, but change always makes it better. Hence, you want to fuse both to produce dynamism. The platform for the young to blend properly is, therefore, their Union. So, you have to #RestoreULSU for the students to have their voice. 

As I mentioned earlier, the Higher Institution is students’ leadership testing ground. The way they run the campus gives them a chance to experience what to do when they get to the society. But if a cluttered desk means a cluttered mind, what does an empty desk mean? Let’s #RestoreULSU

Fourth; dangerous communication gap. It is more dangerous when people don’t speak. If you don’t know what’s on students' mind, you are building kegs of explosive gunpowders. It is therefore in the collective interest to #RestoreULSU

Fifth, aggregation of issues. If students have issues that are spread across rather than aggregated in one channel, it complicates matters. The Students’ Union platform is the ultimate single channel for handling issues. So, #RestoreULSU

I can go on and on, but we must not lose sight of implications of the absence of ULSU in the past decade. I challenged a friend who was enrolling at the Law School from UNILAG whether he is only “learned” by theory but not vast by practice. UNILAG’s forte is merely repeating old ideas, no upgrade, practice or innovation. How can you produce a graduate of Law who only “learned" Lord Atkinson's, aged, received English Laws or other historical Statues of General Applications? The law should be dynamic to reflect the new times and unique culture of people. That’s why you see Nigerian legislators and judges embarrassing us every time. They are not deep. If you have never engaged your University authorities in any constructive argument, who certified you fit to debate a case before a Judge in court? The Students’ Union is such a platform for students to demonstrate debating skills, but UNILAG banned it for a decade. Now they reinstated it and wanted to kill it barely one year after. No! #RestoreULSU now!

I’m even unimpressed that Professors who have degrees in criticizing Government politicians would not take the littlest criticism from students who rightly observed lapses under their own watch. Ego, right? That's how the politicians also feel when you speak. So, take it and #RestoreULSU

I hope I have not said too much here for rustication. I’m aware the forms they uploaded on the University’s website forbids any student challenging the administration, even in a debate. That brings to the fore, a question as to whether this autocracy is what is meant by “good administration,” as item number one in the “reabsorption oath” dictates that students should only “abide” by every dictation of the Management for “good administration” such as the one presently being witnessed.

But in all, for the good of all, I implore the authorities of the University of Lagos to be genuine but not so highhanded. Kindly #RestoreULSU.

Según O’Law is a Nigerian Citizen Journalist.

Twitter: @segun_olawoye