By: Arogundade Toheeb
[Analyses]–It was John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, who aptly concluded that “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable”. It succintly follows that those who repress dissenting views and peaceful demonstration are only sitting on a keg of gun powder of violent agitations. The examples of this action and reaction phenomenon abounds all over the world.When a man is denied the right to stand for his right—to stand for his liberty — he has no choice but to become an outlaw. Have you any idea how much havoc tyrants wreck on the people they lead? They repress voices, they counter constructive criticisms, they are totally against checks because they lack the courage to be better than who they are.
In as much as I had deemed it fit to conceal my anger against the Dracula dons parading themselves as custodians of our educational heritage in various institutions across the country. But it comes to a point when we face the truth in the Italian poet’s words that “the darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis”. It is sure that posterity will not forgive us if we keep silent on the rustication and expulsion of Omole Ibukun and others in Obafemi Awolowo University as well as Adebode Adebayo of Redeemers’ University on their grievances and personal opinions on issues affecting students in their various universities.
It is sardonic that institutions that are meant to build freedom fighters are the one killing the spirit of liberty among students. The academics will embark on strikes based on personal reasons causing total shut down of the university system. How many times has the government victimized them for their civil disobedience? Is this not selfishness? When students stage peaceful marches to show their displeasure over poor welfare conditions in the university, they tag it as gross misconduct, insubordination and sometimes miscellaneous offences. Is this not institutional terrorism on students’ rights?
They often expel students on the contemptuous reason that that are not worthy in character. The question is when and where are they going to learn being worthy in learning and character? What then is the usefulness of the University whose role is to ensure that they are worthy in character and sound judgement? And how do students learn to be of sound judgement when they have been brainwashed to fear authority? How do they become worthy in character when they can’t even talk for themselves? Expulsion of students for dissenting is not just wicked and ridiculous, it also clearly shows that the universities lacks the competence for carrying out their primary responsibility which is to educate and education only comes with dissent. And we also need to question the criminality of peaceful protest, is peaceful protest not allowed by the Nigeria’s constitution or the University acts is superior than the Nigeria’s constitution? When you expel students based on the fact that they put up a dissenting argument, you cut their dreams short and they become liabilities to the society, how then have you — as universities—fulfil your purpose?
Authority without wisdom —they say— is like heavy axe without an edge, fitter to bruise than polish. Our educational institutions have lost their marbles, they have eaten their credibility with impunity. They mask themselves as saint but they are worst than the beast. They are always the front-runners when it comes to accusing politicians of corruption. Meanwhile, most of them are masters in misappropriation, misapplication and mismanagement of public resources at their disposal. The institution that is meant to be the reflection of the society has been turned to a political ground. Promotions are not based on merit any longer but on man-know-man agenda. We are in a state of dilemma as it is becoming more difficult to distinguish between the gown and town as the two are now wedded in a fraternity of corruption.
It is hightime all students rose and fought against students’ oppression. It is Omole Ibukun, Adebode Adebayo and others today, it might be your turn tomorrow. Student leaders should let them know that no one is interested in civil disobedience when things are done the way they are meant to be done.
Students have a lot of roles to play in ensuring that the constant threat and oppression by university dons does not stay in our system. Collective efforts and equivocal support for our unions will always be our greatest strength.
Arogundade Toheeb is a former Speaker, University of Ibadan Students’ Union.Please Follow Us @ThePageNg