Some of the former University of Ibadan union leaders have condemned the decision of the institution’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Idowu Olayinka, to suspend the union, and the attempt by the varsity Senate to review the students’ union constitution.
Speaking on the issue, Jide Abiose, a former chairman of Nnamdi Azikwe Hall, believed that the ongoing imbroglio between the university management and the student is a symptom of a corrupt system.
He said; “ the University of Ibadan has been bedeviled by the gradual politicization cum commercialization of the entire system by some cabals who have hijacked the leadership structure across the board and have developed what they think is a foolproof strategy for milking the system towards personal ends.”
He opined that many of the members of the management have no regards for the growth and development of the university and “would rather focus on white elephants that have solid potentials for kickbacks”.
“Olayinka is a product of this group, the process of his emergence to that office was a shambolic style that defeats the very standards the university prides itself on. So what do we really expect from individuals that have no regards for the sanctity of freedom? he queried.
“Students must realize that this goes beyond a battle for I.D cards and hotplates. It's a battle against systemic corruption, where the established livelihood of some individuals is being threatened. A war against the entrenchment of kleptocratic oligarchy in Nigeria's premier university is what you are currently engaged in,” Abiose said.
Ore Afolayan, a former editor in chief of the Union of Campus Journalist, shared his concern for what he tagged the highhandedness of the Vice Chancellor.
“You suspend a Union, fully recognized by the University. A Union guided by a constitution, a constitution that came into existence after deliberations, meetings, consultations and an implementation, you suspend such Union over a radio broadcast” he wondered, adding that the decision was illegal.
Afolayan said it is only through a constitutional process that the union can be suspended. It is the same process that birthed it, is the same process that will undo the Union. The incumbent Vice Chancellor has not tread the path of pragmatism” he said.
Mocking the VC for his statement about the students’ union president who he described as “a 200 level boy without beards”, Afolayan said; “I would have suggested a way forward for the VC, but I'm beardless, hence, not intellectual enough to proffer a workable solution”
“The blatant disregard for voices of discontent displayed by the administration is arrogant!” Enyioma Madubuike, a former Chief Judge of Nnamdi Azikwe hall, asserted.
He opined that; “The pronouncements of the university administration reek of a total disregard for students' plight. They have resorted to the 'do your worst' stance of the oppressive leadership we constantly cry out against in our public life! Closing down a school should be a painful resort if those who run it actually care! Proscribing a students' union because it expressed dissent only reminds us of the long days of decrees and edicts”
Madubuike advised that the Prof. Olayinka led administration to reconsider its position. “I ask that reason prevails and the administration led by Professor Olayinka reconsiders its position quickly. We cannot give what we do not have. Those who are charged with the responsibility of building young people, worthy in character and learning must show themselves qualified caretakers, solid in leadership and discretion” he said
One of the former Mellanby hall chairmen, Edet Iyamba, also opined that the suspension of the students union and its activities is “anti-democratic and repressive”. “The Vice Chancellor and the University senate have not been able to expressively quote the exact section(s) that the members of students union have contravened that warranted the suspension of its union” he added.
Iyamba also urged the “management of the University of Ibadan to reverse its oppressive directive(s) and allow the student to have a virile union, one befitting of a world class institution which the University of Ibadan is aiming to become”.
The former chair did not stop at that, he advised the vice chancellor to challenge his team on how to raise the IGR of the school to complement the dwindling allocation of the federal government rather than spend his time victimizing students.
“He should re-strategize on how to reposition the University of Ibadan on the international platform for good reason after his recent blunders that have severally dented the reputation of the institution” he added.
Rasheed Otegbola, a well-respected pen pusher during his days in the premier university also advised Prof. Olayinka to “retrace his steps or face the wrath of posterity.”
Otegbola who was also the former president of the Department of Pharmacy said; “the Student Union remains a vibrant platform for launching promising reformers into a debauched society. Any element which threatens its existence is a threat to a better future and should be regarded accordingly”.
“My sincere word of caution for Professor Olayinka is to swallow his pride and rescind his decision on the suspension of our union because I will be among millions of Nigerian students that will demand or call for his removal by the Federal Government", Olamiposi Obajuluwa, a former faculty of Arts president, said.
A former sports secretary of Nnamdi Azikwe Hall, Yousuf Jumu’ah, encouraged the students to be resolute in their demands and refuse every form of intimidation.
He also gave suggestions on possible means to deal with the university management and also reclaim the union.
“The SU excos, SRC, Hall chairmen/chairpersons, Faculty excos, leaders of student religious bodies and some notable stakeholders should form a body that will act on behalf of the generality of students. The SU president should demand strong allegiance and loyalty from them all, albeit democratically and there should be a signed document indicating strong solidarity amongst them. They should get a strong legal team, local and international media (I urge the University alumni to assist in that regard), paralyze on campus business through mass boycotts and be resolute” he suggested.