“They won’t build no schools anymore. All they build will be prisons. Prisons.”- Lucky Dube
The classic argument that competition will lead to a reduction in prices forces the display of OAU maintenance hostels as a negation. Price increment is from time to time mutually introduced by the hostel owners at the same period by people who are supposed to be competitors in price reduction.
One discovers that the bloated population of the institution creates a thriving market for real estate investors. While one cannot advocate forced price regulation, one finds it incredulous that hostel owners jointly introduce a new price regime threatening eviction for those who disagree.
There has been a heavy silence from both those on the receiving end and also the former Union leadership that issued a press statement and went away afterwards into their arena of corrupt feasting and an unprecedented robbery of 3.1 million naira from the Union vault. I have opined in open discussions and arguments that when recounting the history of this Union, the Oyekan Ibukun administration should be skipped because what he led was not the Union but rather an annex of the Senate Building.
A lot of those girls will be forced into the insecurity of Ife town which is at this moment the paradise of a robber. This ignores again the fact that house owners in town work with maintenance to know what they should charge. Studying the market, there is a discovery again that increments in maintenance lead to increments in town houses and hostels outside that region. Thus, the students may even find nowhere to run to at the end of the day.
The case is that the Union has always advocated for the construction of more hostels on campus which has been dubbed unrealistic. Of course, it may be the case that current economic situations nationally provide a cover up for those who ab initio are not willing to do anything.
Last session, there were parts of maintenance that were robbed. Despite the financial charges, the security of this place is in doubt and has been compromised.
What Must Be Done?
- Occupants of maintenance are faced with the option of surviving by raising the fees, moving out to other parts of town where the increment will meet them later as a matter of time or taking a stand to resist the new price regime. Their choice is theirs to make in the absence of a Union structure and they should organise if they can.
- We should not mortgage the demands for improved funding of education at the altar of any other thing. Those who claim Harvard pays so and so do not consider the fact that Harvard degrees are almost an instant qualification for a job or even the fact that education in foreign countries is not as crucial to their national development as it is to ours as a developing nation. And that at a point in the past, those countries have subsidised learning or have even and up till now several scholarship programmes.
- The reasons for increment and other such must be dutifully explained to those who are to pay. One cannot dismiss that a tangible reason for increment is somewhere. But again, to introduce such increment regime without explaining to those who would pay it the reasons why they would is outrightly wrong except it has been done ‘a priori’ without my earlier knowledge.
- The reduction of the admission quota is a non-negotiable position the Union has always pushed. If I know of none, the Omotayo Akande administration regularly hammered that the admission quota is bloated by either corruption in the process or a desire for revenue from the first year fees. Of course, one is not a Machaivellian by suggesting aspirants are turned back. But education should be granted to those who have fulfilled stringent conditions for admission. The position of a reduced quota should continue.
- While no one has come here to stay, it is a phase for all of us. We owe it to the future and those who would thirst to taste from the perian spring of knowledge that we must ensure they find it easy to do so and the only path to this is to regularly speak when the path of comfortable study is threatened.
Obafemi Awolowo University,