‘Hundreds of students can be suspended but the truth can’t be suspended.’
Dear Vice Chancellor,
Since you have lanced the university community into a festival of letters, with several suspension letters issued to postgraduates and undergraduates students for unjust reasons.
It has become a matter of urgent necessity for me to join you in the spirit of festivity, not only as a conscious student of this prestigious university, also, a lover of progress, to write you this open letter which states expressly, in clear terms how you are consciously or unconsciously gearing this university to a state of crisis and instability.
Cutting all scraps and going straight to the point. It is important to note that the suspension of this students can never be disconnected from one fact, and that is their demand for a better conducive living and learning conditions.
A commendable act of yours, I must acknowledge, is your gospel of a stable academic calendar. But let me bring to your reminder, that a stable academic calendar should never be an objective in any academic institution, it is a natural order. Stability and peace naturally happens when every stakeholder in a society have their basic welfare attended to and their fundamental rights respected.
It is not only unthinkable, but impossible for students who school in places, where good living and learning conditions are used to enhance free and quality education to crave for a stable academic calendar, like we do. However, going by your recent actions and policies in just four months of office, it is not only safe but correct to say that you represent a contradiction to the gospel you preach.
A stable academic calendar is largely impossible in an environment where living and learning conditions are worse than that of the Rohingya refugees. Halls of residence filled with overgrown bushes, near-collapse buildings, several life-threatening creatures among others. Also coupled, with a poor erratic power and water supply, congested rooms of about 14-15 persons amidst rodents and bloodsucking insects.
Receiving lectures in congested halls with little or no capacity to contain the students; a lecturer addressing a class of 3000 students without a public address system, students sitting or standing on the floor while receiving lectures and deliberate victimisation and assault of students are all not suitable for a place meant rigorous academic work. As pointed in my previous paragraph, all this, without proper attention, are nothing but a call for instability in the academic calendar.
Truth has no shade, the poor living and learning conditions is as a result of the under-funding of the Education sector by the government. Though, your role in administrative capacity can never be obliterated. As understandable as it is that yours is to control and manage the affairs of the institution, it is important to note that a man cannot manage poverty.
Demands and interests is inevitable in a tertiary institution of knowledge which is characterised by staffs (ASUU and NASU)union and students’ union. With respect to this, the best solution is not to suppress and silence such unions but to allow their healthy existence so they can make their demands from the right channels.
This piece might remain incomplete without citing an instance of the Ali-must-go struggle in 1978, when the Federal government introduced a fee for the free meal given to students of tertiary institutions in Nigeria. Then, The VC of Unilag, a person of Prof. Ade Ajayi supported students on all fronts, financially and gave buses to convey them to a protest in Abuja, knowing fully well, the importance and implications of such actions. This man used the same office you are holding to defend the powerless against tyranny.
It is also noteworthy to condemn your actions regarding the fight that ensued between two union officers. It degrades the principle of logic and due process to suspend students without fair-hearing or due consultations to all parties involved but basing your decisions on media.
At this point, it is celestial to note that the cause of the festival of letters is the underfunding of the Education sector and poor management of resources. A serial attack on students activists, would never be resolved the crisis but a dangerous shift of events till future times. It is on this note, I will recommend you to reinstate all suspended students unconditionally, as they are not the cause of the problem, they are just accidental victims of circumstances.
I would also implore to bring the university administration under a democratic control of staffs and students to set forward the best ways to normalise and bring the desired stability we all want to Great Ife. A democratic control would also curb a possible unjust financial litigation, as experienced by your predecessor.
Before I run out of ink, it behooves me to ask of your actions so far, regarding Chaun-lee, a student who attempted to kidnap a radical union executive.
Dunnex Samuel is a member of the Democratic Socialist Movement, (DSM) and Education Rights Campaign