RE: UI Students’ protest: of character and learning by Onifade Bello

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“Before you have an argument with your boss, take a good look at both sides – his side and the outside.” – John C. Maxwell

[Analyses]–In this focal point of planet earth, many youths lack courtesy when putting forth their demands to the elders; while many elders see any question from the youths as affront and confrontation. Truths are bitter but do our lives not begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter? I am flummoxed with the content of the piece so entitled above as published in The Punch. One thing that is accentuated by this piece is the saying of Georg Christoph that, “The most dangerous untruths are truths slightly distorted.”

Importantly, it is worthy to state that the kinds of graduates we have in Nigeria today depict the kinds of (mis)education that they receive in our tertiary institutions. The situation is pathetic. It is pathetic because majority of our institutions have continued to churn out graduates who most times are academically sound but administratively poor. They have made us, the students, to believe that success in life is tied to academic excellence; forgetting that you will only come to limelight by your potentials not your credentials; although your credentials are catalysts in the Nigerian setting. Therefore, it is saddening that our tertiary institutions, as stated by the writer, have been populated by students who live triangle life on campus; the decisive students – from classrooms to the library and religious centres. Honestly, such students hardly turn out to become the best students at the end of their academic sojourn nor do they become the best employable graduates.

There was too much emphasis on “200-level student”. For instance, “… is it not surprising that it is a 200-level student who emerges as the President of Students’ Union of Ibadan status?”, “At 200 level, what does he know about emotional management? How much of leadership skills does he possess? At 200 level, he is still half-formed, therefore largely uninformed about the nitty-gritty of campus politics”, he said. However, being the President of the Students’ Union as a 200-level student has not contravened the processes that led to his emergence nor any extant rules of the Students’ Union Constitution which is also a document contained in the Student Information Handbook. Article XVI which deals with “Elections” states thus in (iii): “Candidates must neither be in their first year of registration nor final year students”. Hence, this provision caters for any intending candidate interested in the Students’ Union to have garnered adequate political experience as well as the academic prerequisite of 3.5CGPA.

In furtherance of objectivity, the Students’ Union under the leadership of Mr Ojo Aderemi has its blames, so does the Management of the University of Ibadan. Appeals were actually made to the students’ leaders to enable the first semester exams hold as scheduled but those appeals would have yielded practical outcomes if the majority of students had the opportunity to hear directly from the revered office of the Vice Chancellor on the morning of 29th of May, 2017, as promised by the VC. That the Premier Varsity of Ibadan could not issue ID Cards to students for 2 sessions, which they paid for, was not the fault of the students but the fault of a unit under the system. It is just quite unfortunate that the VC has been accentuated in this imbroglio because everything rises and falls on his leadership.

Likewise, I cannot but agree with the writer to blame the system; not for allowing a rookie to reign but for ousting an administration without adequate preparation for the successors. The foundation of inaugurating this administration was faulty and the occurrences that followed have only brought to the fore once again that: if you don’t prepare before you appear you will disappear ahead of time. It is time tertiary institutions prepared students for the future and not preparing the future for the students. If the new officers of the Union had been adequately trained and equipped with training on leadership; perhaps, there won’t have been complaints that the President is half-formed or lacking in emotional management or leadership skills. Because in reality, all the insinuations carry no weight in the public court of analysis.

At this juncture, I would like to state incontrovertibly that it is obnoxious and very appalling that some students took acrid vituperation on the person of the VC rather than the issues at hand. It is saddening and condemnable that the VC has actually been tagged with unprintable names; which is a betrayal to sanity and common sense. It is time students put a stop to this cosmetic display of crassitude especially on social media; which has only promulgated Karl Marx’s assertion that “the production of too many useful things results in too many useless people”. Nonetheless, the recurring abuse of cyberspace with incessant attacks on ‘Constituted Authorities’ cannot be disconnected from the kind of learning students receive in our tertiary institutions; where many of our academics want them to become robotic graduates who seldom engage their lecturers in intellectual discourse or robust social intercourse of ideas on topical issues aside class works.

Furthermore, to assert that the ‘Congress’ was illegal is a social rape on the consciousness of over 30,000 students of the University of Ibadan. Process of convening a “Congress of the Students’ Union” is explicit in Article XIX of the SU Constitution thus: “(b) Congress shall be summoned by the Chairman on the approval of the Council. The President upon the receipt of 250 signatories of the students shall direct the General Secretary to summon the Congress. (c) Congress shall also be summoned by the resolution of the Council.” Likewise, that the Congress resolved to disrupt the scheduled programme of Oyo State Government at the International Conference Centre is a good-looking fallacy which is not extant in the 5-point resolutions of the Congress.

Aside this misconstruction of details about the students’ protest, it is stunning to see that nothing was mentioned of the threats by the Oyo State Commissioner of Police. The audio recording is viral of how the CP threatened in ‘very clear terms’ to deal with students and how ‘they will waste their lives’ should they exercise their fundamental human rights of peaceful assembly and demonstration as contained in Chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended). Those threats goaded students to move outside the gate for the peaceful protest. With all honesty, those threats of the CP were insensitive and ill-timed. With such threats from an officer of such caliber, the mantra of ‘Police is your friend’ has further been expunged from our memory. There is dire need to revamp the Nigeria Police Force and there is no better time than now!

It appears to be a faux pas to aver that students call their colleagues who are politically savvy ‘NFA’ – No Future Ambition. Participation in Students Unionism at various levels has not alienated academic excellence from many students; although a selected few might have influenced your writing negatively. Many students have served in the Union, Halls of residence, Faculties and Departments and yet finished with sterling grades than their counterparts who have often been ‘Bookaholic’.

In fairness to our VC, he is an academic per excellence who has strong passion to ensure the University of Ibadan soars higher in academic excellence globally. It is understandable he cannot be everywhere, a reason why the University System is made of different units with interdependent functions to achieve the collective goals of the system. The current mess which has brought these unpleasant situations to our Varsity is a result of laxity, indifference, distrust and inefficiency of some units. We cannot continue like this sir.

It is laudable to see that the Lagos and Abuja branches of the UI Alumni Association have taken practical steps to resolving the imbroglio and it is our hope that there will be logical and favourable outcomes soon. Our Vice Chancellor, sir, please be broad-hearted by dignifying this Yoruba adage that “when we use the right hand to discipline a child, we use the left hand to draw him closer”. These times are tough for UI but they are surely ephemeral. I wish we could have a rendezvous with Prof Tekena N. Tamuno to share his shrewd experiences with us. Please #BringBackOurUnion.

In conclusion, the officers of our suspended Union and all past Students’ Leaders must as a matter of urgency complement the efforts of the Alumni Association by using all diplomatic measures to ensure peaceful resolutions prevail over these media bashings that have lingered on than necessary. We should not fear to negotiate but we must never negotiate out of fear.

Onifade A. Bello is a Former Speaker of the UI Students’ Representatives Council, Students’ Union; he wrote in from Ibadan, Nigeria. (08055589342)

Copyright 2017 The Page. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source.



1 Comment

  1. Thaabit A. Ruqayyah

    June 15, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    Well-said. God bless you

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