Following the closure of the University of Ibadan, UI, by the management, students of the institution have threatened to resist any attempt to commercialise welfare projects.
The authorities of the institution, it would be recalled, suspended activities of the student union following protest over non-issuance of identity card. Some students union leaders were also suspended while undergraduates were asked to vacate campus.
According to the president of the union, Ojo Adefemi, the University management must respect students’ democratic right to independent unionism, adding that “the Union leadership will from this moment start to employ every available legal means allowed by the Nigerian constitution to retrieve our dear Union from the clutches of the administration and every form of oppression. The days to come may be rough, but our courage and determination is tough. We will not negotiate the welfare of students.
He said that contrary to circulated report, he said that he only time he spoke at the inauguration event was “to deliver my speech, and no part either directly mentioned the vice-chancellor or impliedly insulted him, his personality or his office. It is therefore both laughable and ridiculous to hear that the sole reason supposedly offered by management for the purported suspension of the Union after 24 days in office was that the president supposedly insulted the honourable vice-chancellor.”
He added that the demand by the union for identity cards to be issued for students before examinations commence was legal, adding that “and not only have greatest Uites paid for our I.D Cards for two sessions now, we have been patient with the management that long.
Read full text of the press statement:
JOINT PRESS STATEMENT OF THE STUDENTS’ UNION EXECUTIVE COUNCIL AND THE STUDENT REPRESENTATIVE COUNCIL, UNIVERSITY OF IBADAN DELIVERED ON THURSDAY, 1ST OF JUNE, 2017 BY THE STUDENTS’ UNION PRESIDENT, OJO ADEREMI*
“Esteemed entlemen of the press, ever intelligent & patriotic Uites, greatest Nigerian students, concerned Nigerians home and abroad, members of the global academia, sympathisers from different civilizations, conscientious observers across physical and social borders, ladies and gentlemen.
“My name is Ojo Aderemi, and I am the President of the University of Ibadan Students’ Union. Today, on this most historic date, I succinctly present to the whole world, not merely the statement of our Union, but the testament of affairs in the Ivory tower of the Premier University, the University of Ibadan.
“My administration, the Patriotic Intelligentia was sworn into office on May 8, 2017, just 24 days ago. At the said Swearing in ceremony, our plans and visions for the Union were intelligently highlighted in my inauguration speech, full text of which were well circulated and can be easily retrieved from several news platfroms that published it.
“As an ideological driven, but progress-seeking administration, the speech listed several cardinal points that bordered on both Student matters and National concerns, including- reducing and extinguishing the flame of Student victimization and exploitation on campus, Increased welfare for all, improvements in learning and living conditions, humane treatment of special persons, war against corruption, increased funding of education, call for the release of remainder of the Chibok girls, call for national referendum among others.
“Gentlemen of the press, contrary to the widely-circulated, but falsely concocted story of the much- respected Vice-Chancellor that I insulted him at the Inauguration, the only time I spoke at the said event was to deliver my speech, and no part either directly mentioned the vice-chancellor or impliedly insulted him, his personality or his office. It is therefore both laughable and ridiculous to hear that the sole reason supposedly offered by Management for the purported suspension of the Union after 24 days in office was that the President supposedly insulted the Honourable Vice-Chancellor.
“It has also been suggested, quite wrongly by the University that the Union directed students to act illegally contrary to University Regulations. However, it is trite to affirm that we have only followed the laws made by the University itself, and nothing else. For instance, the direction of the Students’ Union for all Students in the Hostels to use hot plates in the Kitchenettes which the Management generously built was made on the foudation of the law, for the same is provided for in Chapter 6 of the Students’ Information Handbook written and circulated by the University itself, and also the Ethics governing the Halls of Residence on Campus. The Union was only advising students to be law- abiding, and thus help the management keep the law it has magnanimously drafted.
“Also, the extreme economic conditions which students face has made it impossible for Students to afford the use of kerosene stoves, which is not only embarrassingly expensive, anciently archaiac but also duely dangerous to the wellbeing of students on campus. It is not only appalling, but completely scary that a 21st Century University can approve only the use of kerosene stoves for Students’ Use, even contrary to the dictates of its own laws. Our members have been groaning and crumbling under the sheer weight of the financial implications and the health hazards of kerosene stoves, and as a responsive Union, we feel the pain and share the burdens, and it will only amount to arrant wickedness and sheer cowardice to remain silent in such circumstances, I’m sure even our Parents wouldn’t be proud.
“Gentlemen of the press, without equivocation, the generality of students in the University of Ibadan are law-abiding, peaceful but conscious.We are not rascals who always seek to fight, but radicals who will always fight, not merely to be right, but for our rights. It is in our peaceful, but conscious, ever intelligent, but vigilant, maner that a Students’ Union Congress was summoned on the 27th May 2017. While the Congress was an exercise of our fundamental Right to Association as contained and enshrined in the provisions of Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended in 2011), which supersedes every other law or regulation, it was also a duly constituted Congress under the Students’ Union Constitution which informs our Union’s principles.
“At the Congress, it was resolved among others, that the Student’s identity card, which is a standing levy in the Fees of every Student must be received before Examinations commence, and every parent, even the school management knows the simple nature of contracts- that where consideration has been paid, contract has been made. And not only have greatest Uites paid for our I.D Cards for two sessions now, we have been patient with the management that long. Infact, even when the fees fraudulently skyrocketed for no given reason from 650naira last session to 2000naira this session, an increment of over 200percent, Uites still remained patient. But this has led to our students going through serious security harassment from members of the Nigerian Police Force outside the University environment. Many of our members have even lost credible scholarship and grant opportunities just because they couldn’t identify themselves properly as Students.Afterall, anyone can claim to be a Student, only the Identity Card tells the difference.
“Gentlemen of the press, it is also important to add at this point that the central library of our University, the once-great Keneth Dike Library does not open for twenty-four (24) hours, even during examinations. This is rather unfortunate for a University that prides itself as the first and the best, despite the fact that the fee for library registration increeased by 100% this session. The Union has written severally and exhaustively to the appropriate authorities, and has also met with them on various occassions, but to no avail. All we ask for is that our members, undergraduates and postgraduates alike write their examinations and research work in the best possible conditions. Nothing more, nothing less.
“At this point, we would like to inform the general public that our University, your University, is no longer what it used to be, the state of welfare conditions in our Hostels is at an all-time low, bathrooms are terrible, toilets are terrible and the living conditions are terrible, access to internet facilities are practically non-existent. While the University Management intentionally releases misleading information that the Students consume electricity beyond the financial capacity of the University, we have irrebutable evidence, that the income generated by each Hall through the payment of the current Accomodation fees and Internally Generated Revenue in the University is not only more than enough to serve the electrical bills of each Hall, but also sufficient for welfare conditions to be improved, if transparency is in place. But the management would have us, our parents and the general public believe that only increment or privatization of accomodation can lead to improvement in living and learning conditions.
“Gentlemen of the press, the leadership of the Union was mandated by the Students’ Union Congress of the 27th May 2017 to press for the address of all these issues, and by unanimous decision, it was agreed that a peaceful protest on the streets was required so the whole world could hear our voices, see our pain and feel our burdens. It is trite to affirm that my administration made every possible move to avert a protest, we consulted with management, we dialogued with them, we even admonished the Vice-Chancellor to make a release to calm the students. But instead of the management to listen to us, we were severally threatened on several instances, and on one of such meetings, the Vice-Chancellor blurted out “I cannot dialogue with a beardless 200level Student”. Well, while I may be beardless, I am not support-less, and the rank and file of our Students Union want credible answers, not incredible insults. Please tell the Vice-Chancellor.
“It was on this basis that the generality of students, in peaceful manner, organised ourselves and proceeded on a peaceful protest on Democracy Day, May 29, 2017. Not one person was flogged, no shop was looted, no stone was thrown, no bottle broken, infact, the Students marched with our hands in the air, just like Martin Luther King Jr and his followers did.Let it be known at this juncture that the University echelon was well intimated of the proposed protest, and even the honourable Vice-Chancellor had requested a night before that the protest be delayed so he could address the Congress and concede to our demands. In light of this, myself and the Honourable Speaker intentionally stalled at the Congress, awaiting the presence of Mr Vice-Chancellor, but we waited in vain, as he did not pick his call again when dialled several times.
“Gentlemen of the press, logical Nigerians, national and international observers, human rights activists, let it also be known that the Oyo State Commissioner Police, Mr Abiodun Ojude, a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University, who is currently a Ph.D Student of the University Ibadan, in a phone call with the President threatened to direct his men to open fire on innocent Nigerian Students if we marched on Democracy Day. Infact, he threatened to let blood flow and that we would be picking dead bodies off the streets if we protested. But we refused to be threatened by any unruly element against exercising our constitutional right to peaceful protest, and inspite of the presence of fully armed Policemen, it was just out peaceful conduct that prevented them from unleashing their script of brutality upon our members.
“It was thus a complete shock when the Vice-Chancellor on Democracy Day undemocratically, solely and autocratically, against University regulations and without any Senate approval, proceeded to announce at a Broadcast on Diamond F.M, the School Radio that the school was being shut down. We have since learnt that the approval for that action was granted a day after!That is obviously unheard of in sane societies.
“On the Second Day, the 30th May 2017, the Vice-Chancellor agained summoned an emergency Senate Meeting contrary to the University Act requirements for an emergency Senate Meeting, after which he forthwith announced, at a hurriedly held Press Conference, without any University Publication or Letter to the Union detailing the decision, that our dear Union stands suspended indefinitely.And till date, the only reason offered by the Senate, the University Management or any of their spokesman is the Vice-Chancellor was insulted by the President of the Students’ Union, this is obviously a concocted lie to stifle the lawful and peaceful agitations of Students who have been nothing but partners in progress. As we are yet to receive official communication of the said suspension, we will not respect such.
“I must add that as it stands, executives and principal oficers and tnants of the Students’ Union have been forced out of the Students’ Union Building, and the building has been illegally put under lock, and properties of the Union hijacked by agents of the University management. We also have priviledged information that the Union executives and principal officers have been declared wanted by their agents.
“Sequel to this, the Professor Olayinka led administration has been employing all forms of attacks on Students’ democratic rights. Before now, several students have been wrongfully and unjustly expelled or rusticated from the University by the Central Student Disciplinary Committee without due process. some of them merely spoke against the ills in our University management, and were victimised on no just basis.The Students’ Union hereby calls for the reinstatement of these persons, and also intimates the general public through this medium, in the event of the victimisation of myself, any member of the executive council, any member of the representative council or any of our members who actively took part in this struggle.
“On this note, gentlemen of the press, we urge all Uites, Nigerian Students, concerned Nigerians home and abroad, members of the global academia, sympathisers from different civilizations, conscientious observers across physical and social borders, to come to our aid and assist the union as we mount pressure on the University management to concede to our demands which are as follows:
1. Immediate release of the Students’ Union Building and all properties of the Students’ Union that has been wrongfully siezed.
2. Immediate return of all Undergraduate Students to Halls of Residence.
2. Proper and transparent account of the fees paid for the issuance of ID cards from 2015/2016 academic session till date.
3. Students must have the rights to use hotplates in the kicthenettes as provided for by the laws of the University.
4. Distribution of ID Cards before first semester examinations for the 2016/2017 academic session begins.
5.Immediate call for a Welfare Board meeting, to address the sundry welfare issues on campus.
7. Reinstatement of all wrongfully and unjustly expelled or rusticated students by the University’s Central Student Disciplinary Committee.
8. An immediate audit of the University’s Bursary department, UI Ventures, UI Microfinance bank, Office of the Vice Chancellor, Office of the Deputy-Vice Chancellor (Administration), Office of the Deputy-Vice Chancellor (Academics), Office of the Dean of Students, Hall Management Committeeof all halls of residence.
9. The University’s Central Library should be open for use 24 hours everyday as stipulated in the Student Information Handbook.
“Finally, we oppose any form of commercialisation of the University which is a federal government property, and we demand that the University management must respect students’ democratic right to independent unionism. The Union leadership will from this moment start to employ every available legal means allowed by the Nigerian Constitution to retrieve our dear Union from the clutches of the administration and every form of oppression. The Days to come may be rough, but our courage and determination is tough. We will not negotiate the Welfare of Students.
LWe also appeal to all sister unions on all campuses, NASU, SSANU, ASUU, NLC, TUC and the generality of Nigerians, our guardians and parents especially to lend us their support in this struggle.
Amandla Aweltu (We Shall Not Be Discouraged)!
God Bless Our Union!
God Bless University of Ibadan!
God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
Thank you all for your time.
Speaker, UISU, SRC