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February 22, 2005

OBAFEMI AWOLOWO UNIVERSITY (OAU) ILE-IFE CRISIS – AN UPDATE

Planned Victimisation of Our Comrades and Other Student Activists

 

Barely three weeks into the resumption of activities at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife, four of comrades namely Dayo Fadugba, Lawson Oviasoge, Olumide Ogunlabi and Muyiwa are now facing the threat of loss of studentship. They have been invited along with a collaborator and 24 other student activists to appear before an obvious vindictive disciplinary panel set up the university management on the crisis of November 3 2004.

 

This planned victimization is part of draconian and repressive measures the management has put up since the re-opening of the university on February 3 as the response to the November 3 student protest. Earlier in the month, the current Public Relation Officer, PRO, of the students’ union was summarily expelled. It appears the management attaches more priority to making scapegoats out of some student activists over addressing the issues that led the students into the protest and the subsequent 3-month closure of the university, as none of the issues has been resolved. The unresolved issues and the prevailing draconian actions of the authorities have the potential of laying basis of another crisis in the institution.

 

Our comrades were alleged to be among the masterminds and perpetrators of the assault on the university officials and destruction of university property in the course of the protest of November 3.

 

Of course, on the basis of the ideas of Marxism, which we profess and identified with on the campus and beyond, we could not have masterminded and supported the counter-productive approach of assault and destruction. Moreover, in all our publications and speeches on the event of November 3, we condemn the assault and dissociate ourselves from it and help draw the correct lesson for students and authorities alike.

 

But we are not however surprised that some of our comrades have been penciled down for victimization. This is because of our long-standing and uncompromising defence of the rights and interests of students on the campus. It will be recalled that for almost six years until 2001 Anthony Fasayo and 9 other comrades were politically expelled from the same university. Authorities were forced to re-call them by sustained campaign and agitations that had local, national and international features. Also, a comrade Dayo Fadugba, the immediate past Public Relation Officer of the students’ union only at present enjoys temporary studentship on the basis of court injunction. This comrade, who is also among those facing the current panel, was suspended in 2003 for leading student struggle against some obnoxious charges imposed by the authorities.

 

On the basis of our leading roles against the characteristic anti-student, anti-worker policies of the management, the penchant of the authorities for witch-hunting and the antecedent of the university, there is high possibility for the comrades to be declared "guilty as charged" irrespective of our robust defence of our roles on November 3. Combined with political campaign to resist the planned victimization, we have resolved to opt for legal representation and action

 

November 3 Crisis in Brief

 

It will be recalled that the university was closed down on November 3, 2004 after a student protest to agitate for the reinstatement of some student activists, release of 2002/2003 2nd semester exam results, improvement of studying and living condition on campus and the abolition of the obnoxious anti-worker policy of "no work no pay". Regrettably however, the struggle that enjoyed popular support of students was allowed to degenerate to physical assault on the vice-chancellor and some other officials of the university owing to wrong tactics of a section of student leadership that saw aiming the struggle at the individual members of the management as the ultimate solution to the crisis. Unfortunately, a part one student was murdered by the armed policemen invited by the management to quench the protest on the pretext of the need to rescue the vice-chancellor and other assaulted officials.

 

Our position on the issues around the event of November 3 was well articulated in an article in the Nov/Dec. 2004 edition of Socialist Democracy: "OAU Crisis – How Should Struggle Be Organised?" and in the open memorandum we submitted to a so-called fact finding panel set up by the university on the crisis in December 2004.

 

Our Activities since the Resumption

 

So far we have circulated among students and staffs about 3000 copies of a special leaflet where we addressed the current state of the institution, drew some lesson from the events of November 3 and put on the front burner the subsisting demands and fresh ones that have arisen on the basis of new developments on the campus and in education sector.

 

Besides this special leaflet, we have massively issued and posted around the campus about five different releases (statements) addressing and raising some specific demands and issues in defence of student rights and interests as well as being aimed at re-awakening the consciousness and restoring the confidence of students in the struggle.

 

The leaflet and all the statements were well received and appreciated by the students and staffs

 

On the basis of our intensive work among students a parliamentary meeting of the students’ union was held. Expectedly, we initiated and dominated the debates at about 6-hour sitting, which recorded nothing less than 600 students in the gallery at any particular time. The parliament resolved along with demands as contained in our leaflet. We have as members of the 150-man parliament (Student Representative Council) 25 comrades. Moreover, to popularize the demands among students and won their support, the student parliament on the basis of our arguments has called for a congress (the general assembly of all students). The congress is taking place today.

 

As at present about three weeks into the resumption, we are the only one among the political groups on the campus that have been able to reach out to students. It appears the others whose wrong tactics led to the bastardization of the last struggle have either reached their wit’s end or found the justification of their impaired approach to a popular struggle hard to sell to students.

 

Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) OAU Ile-Ife Branch

February 22, 2005

Links:

AN OPEN MEMORANDUM TO THE PANEL ON THE CRISES IN OBAFEMI AWOLOWO UNIVERSITY, ILE-IFE


OAU RESUMPTION: AN END TO RECURRING DECIMAL OR CRISES?