BY SIKIRU AKINOLA, OAU
Concerned with the non existence of Students’ Union Representatives that will see to the welfare and representation of the students of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun State, selected students drawn from faculties, associations and clubs were brought together by the university management to discuss issues relating to the sustainability of Students’ Union Government in the university.
The union, it would be recalled, was proscribed on February 23, 2011, by the administration of former Vice Chancellor, Prof. Michael Faborode, following a 2-day protest against introduction of acceptance fees in the institution.
Though the students’ leaders who were believed to have orchestrated the protest did not go unpunished as they were suspended and later reinstated, but all efforts and agitations by stakeholders and activists to get the union restored proved abortive.
To re-orientate students towards a new union which everyone will be proud of, the management through the Division of Students Affairs invited faculty presidents to meetings after which it was resolved that a strategic students retreat should be convened in order to educate the teeming students on sustainability of students union as proscription and suspension weaken the vibrancy of the union.
In his address, OAU Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Tale Omole affirmed his administration readiness to restore the union. Since inception of his administration, he said, they’ve been committed to restoration of the union but he does not want to be stampeded into doing so. This, he posited, is to avert a situation where the union activities will be resuscitated and then proscribed again after a short while.
He observed that his administration believes that responsible unionism will not only create cordial relationship within the community but also ensure development and good image for staff and students alike.
Welcoming the students’ representatives to the 2-day retreat, the Dean, Students’ Affairs, Dr. Lateefah Durosinmi, wondered why student unionism is an on and off affair on OAU campus when the union is expected to protect and promote students’ interests, welfares and values.
She said that her office would be open, just and transparent in dealing with all students noting that they expect reciprocity from all students as well.
He flayed those in the habit of selling bed spaces adding that the over N2.7 million recovered from the culprits would be used for students’ projects. He said that those involved in the last closure would be prevented from taking part in the next students’ election.
Prof. Alade Fawole delivering a lecture on student unionism and good governance said that unions are formed so that they can oppose university authority adding that OAU is famous and great not because of rascality, but because of intellectual radicalism.
He affirmed that the student leaders are putting their lives on hold by closing down campus as it will prolong their stay on campus. He advised students to desist from bad language which are similar to that of NURTW members, noting that intellects, arguments and debates should be their major weapon in addressing their demands. Decrying those activists who believe that the only way to be popular is by shouting against management, he maintained that radicalism is different from rascality.
He observed: “In our days, we couldn’t fight because you will be sent away. How can we re-enact the greatness of Great Ife? When are you going to desist from militaristic and violent methods? You should always use the force of logic and not the logic of force.”
Recalling 1977 when students were told by the University not to come to the convocation ground, he posited that the students wrote the then Head of State, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo that the university has prevented them from seeing their father and that a good father will find a way of seeing his children.