Two years on, OAU yet to restore students’ union

Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU)
Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU)

Two years after the management of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife (OAU) suspended the activities of its Students’ Union, some students and groups have urged the school to reinstate the union.

The institution in November 2017, argued that frequent internal crises in the union led to its decision.

“Following security reports of incessant fighting and unruly behaviour during the Congress of the Students Union and the recalcitrant attitude of their leadership, it has become inevitable for the University administration to suspend the activities of the Students Union of the Obafemi Awolowo University,” read the statement signed by the then registrar, Dotun Awoyemi.

Many students have urged the Eyitope Ogunbode-led administration to rescind its decisions, a plea that has been ignored by the authorities.

Meanwhile, the vice-chancellor of the university, in 2018 said the union would be reinstated “but not anytime soon”.

He did not give a definite timeline.

Since then, nothing much has been heard about the matter despite incessant robbery on campus and poor welfare of students.

The students’ union of the university has a history of defending and protecting the rights of students.

Appeal

Some students, who spoke with this reporter on Monday, asked the school to reinstate the union.

Dunsi Olowolafe, a student studying Civil Engineering told PREMIUM TIMES that the suspension is condemnable.

He explained that “while the suspension was not right in the first place, it has caused more problems to students denied of proper ‘welfarism’ and voice”.

Read also: How late OAU student first attempted suicide – Authorities

Other students shared similar views but asked not to be mentioned for fear of victimisation.

Groups kick

A group, the Amilcar Cabral Ideological School Movement (ACIS-M), in a statement signed by its coordinator, Godspower Afereno, said the refusal of the authority to reinstate the union is unjustifiable.

“It is worthy to note that the Nigeria constitution allows for freedom of association and peaceful assembly and as such gives students of OAU the right to have a union that can protect and preserve their collective interest and rights in the university.”

The group further said that the OAU students’ union is not a “terrorist group that foments trouble and violence on campus, and as such must not be treated like such a group but as a peace-promoting Union ready and equipped to contribute its quota to the University and societal development.”

Another group, the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), OAU branch, in a statement by Adetola Yusuf, its pro-tem coordinator, said it is “sad that OAU authority, violate the rules that govern the university and the Nigerian society such as the University Act and the Nigerian constitution as it were.”

“The proscription of students’ union activities by the management of the school is a telling example of this retrogressive behaviour which is just a testimony to the truth that the university has not been run democratically for quite some time now approximately two years that the Students’ Union has been illegally banned.”

The group also condemned the accommodation policy of the institution.

School silent

Efforts by PREMIUM TIMES to get the university spokesperson, Abiodun Olanrewaju, to comment were unsuccessful as he could not be reached on his known telephone number.

Meanwhile, at a recent meeting with some campus news agencies, under the aegis of the Association of Campus Journalists, which held at the Senate building in late 2019, the vice-chancellor said ”the unworthy precedence left behind by the past students’ union leaders” was the reason why the school may not be rescinding its decisions anytime soon.

He also urged the campus journalists ”to assist the management in devising a means for the students’ union to have worthy leaders.”


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