By Bewaji Emmanuel
As students of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria continue to yearn and chant the immediate reopening of the university especially through the massive #ReopenOAU social media campaign by students which has amassed a lot of public attention –of the mass public, various significant individuals and undoubtedly the government, practical results has however not been gotten as #ReOpenOAU is yet to be treated in the plenaries by the Nigerian Senate as promised and earlier reported; this was the latest hope and achievement of OAU students at reopening their school of which the Nigerian Senate has failed so far. Other matters were discussed instead in the plenary even after the adjournment such as the probing of the Attorney General of Nigeria, Malami for filing case against the leadership of the Senate House. However, efforts to reopen the institution continues with students of OAU unrelentingly campaigning and demanding the reopening of the school.
Subsequently, the affirmed intervention of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye at reopening the institution rather encouraged students as against the disappointment of NASS so far.
Also, ideas have been raised of the need to have a peaceful but calculated protest of which student media persons, social thinkers. activists, ideologues of the institution have debated; especially after treating the realisation that online campaign might not give or quickly give the required results, a thought justifiable by the the reaction of the Nigerian Senate to the issue; occupyoau ” which was the first proposed protest campaign was concluded as senseless, the need to be tactful and precise has been emphasized and so occupying selected places and especially the sit of government –Abuja is been considered sensible to work with and while some students support and promote the need for a peaceful physical demonstration, some basically stand with #ReopenOAU cyber campaign.
To this effect, the Association of Campus Journalists of OAU (ACJ OAU) has issued a release through her president:
From Association Of Campus Journalists, OAU
Greetings to all Great Ife Students.
We write at this point to make some clarifications and set some records straight.
When the #ReopenOAU agitations started, we had it in mind to ensure that at the end of it all the agitations regarding Reopening of Obafemi Awolowo University would be resolved objectively and Students will resume.
This Goodwilled move was done out of concern for Students who are becoming more frustrated by the day.
With the support of Great Ife Students #ReopenOAU has made considerable progress and moved us closer to Resumption.
We are writing this not as an act of cowardice as we are fearless as Journalists but as information custodians we understand the current situations.
👉We feel it is important to state this for the records because we initiated the move for #ReopenOAU and whatever emanates from the agitations to reopen the University may be later traced to the Association
👉ACJOAU will not be part of agitations to reopen OAU that may lead to confrontations or protests
👉Protests are definitely legal but at this time protesting is not healthy as the possibility of it been hijacked is very high which we cannot stake our lots on
👉We believe it is unsafe to ask Students to return to Ife without resolving this crisis peacefully as it will further complicate issues, the security of this Students cannot be guaranteed, thus ACJOAU will not stake her name on this
👉We are aware that confrontations may result to unexpected events and thus the leadership of the Association disassociate itself from any Confrontation
👉Our Profession does not allow us to be bias or start with placards, the power we have is the Pen and that is the tool we can stake our lots on
👉We have acted within Ethics of our profession and we will be ready to work just within this
👉We are writing this as a position to ensure that we stand for what we can defend as we understand that whatever emanates from confrontational agitations will definitely be traced to the Association.
👉This is not an act of cowardice but we are acting based on the information we have with us and the fact that as Journalists we understand the delicate nature of this case and we have
approached it delicately with progress hugely made
👉Whoever protests can do that in his name or name of an Association but not ACJOAU, please the Public should note as events that may occur should it be hijacked which is most likely will not be borne by leaders of the Association.
He further added in an article:
OAU BEFORE THE SUN BEGIN TO CRY
In Nigeria we have so many vibrant Youths and activists many of who have overtime given their all to development of the society, that was in the late and early nineties but nowadays like I opined in one of my articles we basically have activists who may not be understanding the real context of activism.
I have followed the case and issues rocking Obafemi Awolowo University from the inception and since my years as a Nigerian, this is one of the most cases in the history of appointment of Vice Chancellors for Nigerian Universities at least as far as I know.
With the current division on the legality of dissolution of the University Governing Council by the Federal Government, it is important to warn the Grasses in this case of possible consequences should activism that leads to Confrontation be taken as the right step in resolving the current crisis.
With many stories going up here and there,one may want to agree that this is a ‘Nollywood’ thriller, let me borrow the words of my mentor Mr Sam Omatseye, before the current situations in Obafemi Awolowo University, I have come out to appeal to all parties and warned them of a day like this in an article titled “Before the Sun stops Shining”, using the words of my role Model, using the title of his book, I would say what is happening today is ” A Chronicle Foretold”.
There are a lot of intricacies, Non Academic Staff Union of Universities has been presumed to have been spurred to act and protest against Professor Salami due to alleged inhuman treatment they experienced during the his tenure as Deputy Vice Chancellor, while Non Academic Staff Union denied this vehemently saying they are only clamoring to ensure that normal processes are followed in the appointment of a Vice Chancellor for Obafemi Awolowo University.
It will be recalled that Com Wole Odewunmi and Comrade Ademola Oketunde approached a Federal High Court in Osogbo, praying that the Court declare the process that brought in Prof Salami as Vice Chancellor illegal, they did this on 7th day of April, 2016.
This article is to ensure that Students do not play themselves into issues that will make their Stay at home longer than necessary.
Like I have predicted rightly, on three different occasions from now, I am predicting again that if Students go on streets, the closure of the University has just begun.
We will recall so well that leaders of the existing Students Union of the University are currently of two divides, from the onset, the Acting Students Union leader of the University addressed pressmen in Osogbo and ordered that Non Academic Staff Union of Universities should return to work, members of the Security Committee did not hide their disdain against the protest of Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and clearly, they had a position.
On the other hand, members of ANSA, another Student Group on Campus have clearly pitched their tents with Non Academic Staff Union of Universities and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, this is very visible as they were at various court sittings and did not hide their interests.
With two Groups and different interests, Students have called for resumption and from their homes launched an #ReopenOAU but with th Campaign in its day 8, leaders of the Union has come out to say protesting and occupying places is the best approach to the situation emanating from the current Obafemi Awolowo University, my fear and message to the Students who maybe gullible is that, with two bodies of different camps, a protest would only result in selfish demands, since we would understand that for instance Alliance against Neo-Liberal Attacks Students Association (ANSA) would definitely be projecting the demands of NASU and SSANU at such protest, while the Students’ Union leaders will be even if not pronounced protest for interest of another divide.
WHERE THE ORDINARY STUDENT BELONG
A Student of Obafemi Awolowo University who wants to resume and has not witnessed protests before may jump at the opportunity presented by this two bodies to experience what it looks like to protest, but having gone through my level one to three and now in my level four, I understand that protest does not always work in most cases, the beauty of protests is when it is used once in a while, by the time you go on protest people would sympatize with you but in the case of Obafemi Awolowo University, protests has sent us home more than we have achieved results, in the case of Omotayo Akande, former Students’ Union President, it is very obvious that the little success he enjoyed during his tenure emanated from the media campaign he launched calling for the probe of professor Bamitale Omole, outgone VC of OAU and not physical protests. With the current legalities surrounding the case of Prof Salami and the direct/indirect holding to power by the various parties in the University, Students may get it all messed up occupying streets in protests, not even when those leading the protests have a party they are supporting and so Students will not be clamoring for resumption but they will be indirectly working for the interest of their leaders who have their own gain from the whole crisis.
Let it be noted that a total declaration of strike by Academic Staff Union of Universities is possible, should students refuse to tactically approach the current crisis like they have done for seven days with the #ReopenOAU Campaign, the truth is that ASUU National body is set to send down representatives to Obafemi Awolowo University to know what is ongoing and from feelers, some members of the community are clamoring for a shut down, the only way to outwit this is to ensure that Students do not give the opportunity to parties to tag a reason why they have to shut down.
The Union leaders asked Students to go home immediately the school was shut down and wished students safe journey, the same Union is coming back to say Students should resume without resolving crisis as leaders should, with the rate of accidents in Nigeria, it is very obvious that the security of Students may not have been considered, even the fact that there are no basic facilities in the University and the Union would not provide such.
The University also suspended the activities of the Union some times back and till now those Activities remain suspended, whether suspended unjustly or not, the Students are yet to achieve ‘Independent Unionism’ that would mean whatever happens from this protest especially if it is hijacked can further complicate issues as Student leaders may end up going into hiding, leaving the fight with no head, we live to Fight again but Students should be wary of their colleagues who would use this current situation to gain cheap popularity, if Students say they will protest against whatever victimization that occurs from the Victimization of those who participate in the protest if it eventually holds, then they should be ready to go home again because by then, going on the streets will be seen as an option again and not tactical approaches.
With the resolution of the crisis rocking the University near through the hashtag ReopenOAU, Students should not put themselves in a tighter corner, even if the school is reopened, it will be closed again, it is unadvisable for parents to send their wards to school too to join in a protest that may end up as another protest.
In the words of popular OAU Activist Olubanji Engels , “We should not protest this time around” Engels said this during a congress of Great Ife Students.
Before the sun starts crying and everyone cannot bear the brunt, Students should beware and take the above issues into cognicance
President, Association of Campus Journalists, OAU
In other related reports, the Students Union of OAU actingly led by her CSO, Ajala Michael had recently set up a committee to look into the situation of the institution with active involvement of campus journalism as it comprises himself, the ACJ OAU president and another representative of the association. However, it has recently been reported by a campus news platform, The News Track Platform of the intentions of the ACJ OAU president and Hon.Man Pea as called, also representing the association to excuse the committee set up by the OAU students Union after a serious argument at the Students Union Building, OAU.
As of now, nothing has changed, Obafemi Awolowo University is shut, the state of the – lecture rooms, laboratories and especially halls of residence have not improved nor the working condition of workers who are still in court over the VC appointment case.