By Ogunjimi James Taiwo
Tension is high in Olabisi Onabanjo University, as the students prepare to ground all activities and lock down the school on Monday, March 18, 2013. The cause of the tension is due to the lingering issue of repetition that the Acting Vice Chancellor, Professor Saburi Adeyemi is bent on implementing; a policy that will affect more than 5000 students.
The Vice Chancellor had announced in January that students who were unable to pay their fees for the previous session(s) will have to write letter of reinstatement, after which they will be reinstated to their previous level. The announcement caused a 3-day protest in the school, which led to boycotting of lectures. The final decision reached by the Senate on Tuesday, 12th March 2013 is that despite all pleas, the students must repeat. This information has led to the tension in the school being raised even further.
The school management itself is aware of the tension. The matriculation ceremony that was supposed to hold on Thursday, March 14, 2013 was postponed for fear of it being disrupted by angry students. Policemen have being deployed to the school premises in anticipation of the shutdown.
Information from the school is that all students are unified on the planning and holding of the protest. The Students House of Senate(SHS), the activist group(CDHR) on campus, religious groups, and even the Student Union Government that was known in times past to shy away from protests/confrontation have been reported to be ready to lead the protest. The SUG President, Comrade Omojola Ayokunle was quoted to have said he is tired of begging, and that all their begging has not changed the VC’s mind as he is hell bent on implementing that policy. In fact, it was reported that the letter of appeal that was written by the SUG President to the University Senate was torn and as at Friday evening, the University refused to reply the Student Union’s letter.
As the stage is set for a massive confrontation between the Students and the management/government, a warning must be sounded loud and clear that the world is watching! Situations like the Nasarawa massacre must not repeat itself. The students’ right to protest is guaranteed in the Nigerian constitution. Stakeholders both at home and in the diaspora must rise up and join their voices with the students’ to call for a reversal of a policy that will see more than 5000 students repeat their levels.