MANAGEMENT-SPONSORED ATTACK ON SPEAKERS INVITED TO ERC SYMPOSIUM
EDUCATION RIGHTS CAMPAIGN (ERC)
IMPORTANT MESSAGE TO THE OAU PUBLIC
MANAGEMENT-SPONSORED ATTACK ON SPEAKERS INVITED TO ERC SYMPOSIUM
Saturday 1st December 2012
Students at the Education Rights Campaign Obafemi Awolowo University symposium, photo DSM
We write to condemn the attack sponsored tonight by the management against speakers invited to address a symposium organised by the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) on Saturday December 1st 2012.
The ERC had organized a symposium inviting many students and labour activists including former President of the Union (1989/1990 session) Comrade Adeola Soetan, Demola Yaya (First elected NANS Zone D Cordinator 1994), Dr. Ife Adewunmi (Immediate past ASUU Chairman), Dr. Ajila (Former Vice President of the Students Union), Ibraheem Kola, Akinola Saburi (Former Union President) and H.T Soweto (National Coordinator of the ERC) etc.
The theme of the symposium was “Rebuilding Students Unionism: Learning from the past” and it held successfully at Awo hall cafeteria with mass of students in attendance. The purpose of the symposium was to rekindle the spirit of struggle and to draw experiences from the past about similar struggles against proscription of the Students Union.
Having spoken for more than 6 hours, the speakers were understandably tired and they proceeded to the new buka to eat after which they planned to go to town to pass the night. They were therefore surprised when they got to the university main gate only to meet very unfriendly and highly incensed security men who insisted they could not leave. Not only were the security men uninterested in listening to their argument that they were mere visitors, the security were so rude and appeared prepared for a battle.
It seemed the Management, already irked by the success of the symposium and the far-reaching resolutions taken by students to re-commit their efforts towards a struggle to win back the union, had a premeditated plan to attack the speakers for their temerity in exposing Management’s antics to students. Indeed while the speakers were arguing with the security men at the gate in protest at their insistence that they must turn back, a car was allowed to enter through the campus gate.
This was what made the speakers to ask the security men why a car was allowed in and they were prevented from going out. At a point they pleaded with the security men to allow them go since they had no where to sleep on the campus being visitors. But to all these questions and pleas, the security men had no coherent answer. It seemed that all along there was a premeditated plan to use any excuse whatsoever to attack the speakers.
By now what started as a minor debate with the security men at the gate over their insistence that the speakers should turn back quickly degenerated into a fiasco when one of the secuirty men radioed the Chairman of security committee Professor Fabayo to send more reinforcement. When the new reinforcement came, they asked no question, they just pounced on the speakers beating and pummelling. Their clothes were torn by this rampaging men acting on orders. They were arrested and taken to the security post at Floor ‘O’. It is instructive to note that none of the speakers resisted arrest because they were convinced that they had committed no crime.
When they got to Floor ‘O’, they were recieved by the Chairman of the Security Committee Prof. Fabayo and the Chief Security Officer (CSO) who not only approved the brutalisation their men had already committed on them but also promptly ordered that the tyres of their car be punctured.
Luckily, students somehow got wind of what was happening and mobilised en masse to the security post to rescue the speakers. Not only were Prof Fabayo and Co. unable to continue holding them, they themselves had to run away fearing the anger of students who have been incensed over time by the arbitariness and excesses of the security men also known as’ ‘Crackers’.
This is actually not the first time the ‘Crackers’ would play the role of an instrument of management to brutalise students. However as it now appears, this time is completely different. The attack against the speakers carried out consciously by a management willing to continue to foster an atmosphere of fear over students has now become a whip of the counter revolution. Several hundreds of students in a matter of minutes gathered at the security post to rescue the speakers. Not only were they released but Prof. Fabayo himself later on personally supervised the inflation of their car tyres after which he apologised profusely for his men’s alleged excesses. By the time they were released, several thousands had already joined the movement which has now become so wide that it is now demanding restoration of the union. Some far-reaching steps were also taken tonight which includes the opening of the Students’ Union Building (SUB) by the mass of students and setting up of barricades.
The ERC believes these are important steps forward in the struggle to restore the union. Having opened the Union building, the challenge now is how to keep it open and how to advance from their to fully restoring an independent union. This is why we in the ERC believes a CONGRESS of all students is necessary to authorize all the steps taken by students in the struggle to restore the union and also to unite and create a recognisable and democratic leadership that can coordinate the movement.
The point has to be made that this protest tonight is a testimony to the historical radicalism of OAU students. On Friday 30th November, over a thousand students had also protested for the provision of electricity supply. Students instinctively recognise the link between their poor welfare conditions (even as the management is spending millions on 50th anniversary and to host NUGA games) and the ban of the union. They know that getting back the union will provide students a collective platform to defend their interests.
The speakers have made clear that all they came to do on campus was to honour the invitation of the ERC to attend its symposium organised to sensitize students on the need to fight for the restoration of the union. They have no interest in causing any crisis or mayhem in the University. Indeed they had offers to pass the night on campus but they insisted on going to town in order to avoid a situation where the management would try to use their presence on campus to generate crisis. Unfortunately and despite their caution, this is what the management has succeeded in doing.
Therefore the Speakers have asked the ERC to convey on their behalf their appreciation of great ife students for mobilising to rescue them from a University management seeking to punish and deal with them for daring to tell students to fight for their rights. The speakers urge students not to relent in the struggle to restore the Union and they have also sent assurances of their unalloyed support and solidarity as always.