Were you part of the University of Lagos Students’ Union executives recently suspended by the school management for their roles in a protest in the university?
No, I am neither a member of the University of Lagos Students’ Union nor a member of the Students’ Representatives Council. I am only a concerned student. I also made it known to members of a panel inaugurated by the university management when I was invited that I was not a member of ULSU or SRC but only a concerned student.
What department and level are you?
I am a 400 level student of the Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Department of Building.
Your Facebook post titled, ‘The Senate of UNILAG: A conglomeration of academic ignorami was believed to have earned you rustication for four semesters; approximately two academic sessions. Did you bargain for what happened after the post?
I was prepared for it. The whole thing started after the resolution of the Senate of the University of Lagos. Some of us saw this coming. The resolution was anti-student. You do not make a resolution without the consent of the people it will affect.
The resolution of the Senate came after the peaceful protests we had on campus on April 6, 7 and 8, 2016. On April 6, it was the union executives who went to the office of the Division of Students’ Affairs to ask that the students should be addressed. But no one came to talk to them. On the second day, it was agreed by the student leaders, the faculty and hall executives that a protest be staged. The protest was about poor welfare. At the time, there was a fuel scarcity in the country and the union executives were using the union’s bus to convey students from Yaba to Akoka. This happened for weeks. The protest was peaceful. I think the problem was ego. No member of the management came to address the students for two days.
On the third day, it was a siren of police cars and an armoured personnel carrier that woke us at 6am. We were also sent text messages to vacate the halls of residence by 10am as academic activities had been suspended. The student leaders saw the directive as draconian. We all insisted that we would not leave the campus. A student mounted the armoured personnel carrier playfully and the police officer in it drove head on until it hit the school gate and its roof opened. The student was not injured and after sometime, we decided to go home. We were at home for three weeks. Later, the management asked us to resume for examination and that there would be rationing of electricity from 7am to 7pm. All students were also told to sign an indemnity form with our parents and take an oath before we could be reabsorbed into the university. The union and its constitution were also suspended. This is a union that was just reinstated after 10 years of proscription. I saw all these as failure on the part of the Senate and an attempt to curb and crush the union. All these made me to pick my pen and write about the Senate of the University of Lagos. I later posted it on my Facebook page.
In the post, you specifically mentioned some lecturers and the vice-chancellor of the institution who you accused of certain failings in the discharge of their academic and leadership duties respectively. What was your motivation?
I was not pushed by any allure of social media. I did it because I was convinced that there was administrative failure. I am of the opinion that a citadel of learning should provide solutions. It should be a place where policy-makers should run to for ideas and a place of solution for the society. But what we have in the university today is far from that.
What happened after the post?
We were allowed to sit for examination and after it ended, those targeted were called to appear before a panel one after the other. It was done that way so that it would not appear as ‘scapegoatism.’ I was sent a letter to appear before a panel on allegation of social misconduct. The panel was called ‘Special Senate disciplinary panel on the recent students’ protest.’ I explained what I meant in the article to members of the panel. It was later that I got a letter rusticating me from the university for four semesters.
What was your first reaction when you got the letter of rustication from the university?
I did not feel any way. I read it and saw that I had been rusticated.
What are you doing to appeal the management’s decision?
On ethical grounds, I would say the reversal of the rustication should be at the discretion of the university management. But on legal grounds, I pray that the reversal comes soon. We are in court already. The case will come up on October 10. Besides, I wrote a letter of appeal to the pro-chancellor and chancellor of the university. I explained all that happened. Others executives of the union also did the same.
Do you regret your action?
I cannot regret doing what is right. Some people told me that it is proper to be anonymous when posting such an article. They also urged me to deny the post and say that my account was hacked. I see that as ‘quackery of activism.’ The decay in our society has got to a level that if one is addressing issues, it is also important to face personalities. If I had been anonymous, none of the issues I addressed in the article would be taken seriously. I want them to understand that the rot in the society starts from the education sector.
Did you receive telephone calls and text messages from friends and colleagues that you should delete it after the post generated reactions?Nobody did that. After the post, I sent a friend request to the Acting Dean of the Students’ Affairs who accepted my request. He saw the post and shared it. I later sent him a message saying, ‘thank you for sharing the truth.’ At the panel, the members said they got it from the DSA and I think he showed it to them.
Did you envisage how long the battle for your reinstatement would last?
I did not really. But I know that it is a struggle that I am in for as long as it lasts.
Is this post about the university the first you posted on your Facebook page?
I have not directed any post to the university. I always write on general issues. There was one titled, ‘What is great about great Nigerian students?’ It was about academic docility though I mentioned the university there. I think this post generated reactions because it was directed at the university.
How are your parents reacting to the development?
Initially, I could not tell them but when I told my sister’s husband, they got to know. They said I had ‘killed’ them. But now they are calm about the whole matter.
Are they urging you to sort things out quickly?
As good parents, they are seeking ways to apologise to the university authorities. But if they do that, I will be unhappy. At this stage, the university management will use it against me. They used the apology tendered by one of the rusticated union leaders against him. When I was leaving the panel, they said I was not remorseful and that other rusticated students had written letters of apology. But none of them was pardoned.
I know that pleading guilty in court will not make the judge to set free the accused. If anything, it will only make his or her conviction easy.
I am a writer of conscience and did not post the article because I want popularity or anything. Even in the appeal I wrote, I did stylistic and semantic analyses of what I meant in the article. It is really appalling that in this clime we see it as disrespectful when a young person tries to plead with an adult to do some things in certain ways. It has got to a situation in Nigeria where university management sees itself as demigod. The philosophy now is that every protest must be met with a punishment. It is wrong.
What are you doing now pending the resolution of the matter?
I am sensitising people on the environment. It is about humanitarian work. I am also starting a project on the environment as an environmental scientist. It is not part of what I learnt in school, it came as a result of self-education. We mistake schooling for education. We go to school in order to know how to read and write. But getting education is about the norms, ethos, ethics and values that an individual is able to imbibe through schooling to develop himself first before transferring them to the society for development.
Here's the controversial Facebook post:
The Senate of the University of Lagos; a Conglomeration of Academic Ignorami
The University of Lagos prides itself as a cosmopolitan university and over the years has maintained the status quo of excellence among her peers in Nigeria and the world at large. I promise not to make this BOMB as lengthy and circuitous as my last post on this medium. I will also make it as lucid as possible.
I mentioned in my last article WHAT IS GREAT ABOUT THE GREAT NIGERIAN STUDENTS the jejunity of the mission statement of the UNILAG, hardly had I finished the article when the whole statement of mine started receiving fulfillment. One would call me a prophet!.
I now see the reason for the backwardness of my nation, we blame those at the corridor of “power” forgetting those at the corridor of “education;” the corridor of “common sense.” I am a discussant of history and it has made me realise that from time immemorial, whenever there is problem in the society, tertiary institutions are places of solace, they are citadels of solutions. Government would go to schools to consult undergraduates, lecturers; professors as they posed to be the backbone of the society. Now, Nigeria is in shambles, the economy is crumbling, where is Dr. Nduibisi Nwokoma of the Economics department? Buhari is still waiting for your economic model computation and those econometrics rubbish theories you teach your students. Prof. G.L Oyekan!.., there is infrastructural decay! Prof. Idoro Godwin, buildings are collapsing and projects are poorly handled! This is not project planning class where you come to disturb students with your unending battery of questions e.g What is Objective?..answer – Objective is ….Question 2 – What is “is”? What a comedian!
Vice Chancellor sir, you remain a first class Chemical engineering graduate from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile- Ife. What has happened to the Great Ife in you? Our power generation is deteriorating and you are alive. The nation’s investment of knowledge on you to make you a scholar is a WASTE. Your first class honours degree is the true definition of a FIASCO.
That’s by the way, the protest that led to Senate’s resolution to dissolve the student union and the forceful blood covenant oath-taking was a peaceful one. One that started on a calm note with the intention to end in a day only if the DSA or VC came to talk to the students during the act. The egocentricity of an African man would not just allow them to come. They are PhD holders. I call them ACADEMIC IGNORAMUSES!
The irresponsibility, insensitivity and irresponsiveness to the welfare of the students of the VC and his misMANAGEMENT have shown that they are all misfits when it comes to parenthood.
They all stood up when the former mistake we had as president tried to rename Unilag to Maulag because the brand UNILAG gives them the pride they need to sleep with any girl-student and admission-seekers effortlessly. These are the goings-on in Unilag, let the world know! The likes of Ogbinaka Karo were ready to tear down the nation if the renaming was not revoked. Now, this is our own issue; welfarism, we can’t find them. Are they telling me that the name issue is greater than welfarism. Is the aesthetics of a building more important than the structural stability? If you don’t know, go ask the MD, Lekki Gardens.
My secondary school teacher once told me that during his days at the University of Ibadan, they protested when the chicken on their breakfast meal was reduced to 1 instead of the usual 2. For Christ’s sake, was it this same Nigeria? We never asked for all these things Bello and his cohortsenjoyed, all we asked for was water/light and all we could get from a sensible Senate is the threat of expulsion. Are there no “common sense” persons in the management anymore? We mourn the late Prof. Ayodele Awojobi freshly.
I promised not to make this too lengthy but I stand in this era for change as I don’t want to be too much of a victim of circumstance because I have never gained anything from this system of education. I learn everything myself, just like most of us. My lecturers are too busy to teach but are very ready to threaten you with failure. Where is Julius Faremi? .
I am ready not as Adekunle Gold but as an active citizen for any step they might want to take against me. E e ba mi ni’be.
I remain Adeyeye Olorunfemi.
University of Lagos