Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM



Struggle pays: 5 Suspended Student Leaders Reinstated

Tairu Jeleel (One of the reinstated activists).

The 5 student activists of the Adeyemi College of Education (ACE), Ondo who were suspended by the management of the institution since January 2009 over their staunch defense of the students’ interest have at last been reinstated. The union which was also banned has now been restored.

The students’ activists were suspended for two academic sessions each. They are the then Students’ Union President Osanyintade Tolulope, Tairu Jeleel (Chief Justice of the Union), Aremo Gbenga (Deputy Director of Welfare), Adewetan Vincent (Speaker of the Union) and Omotayo Charles (Secretary of the Union).

Their suspension was a result of their challenge to the school authorities’ insensitivity to the plight of students. These include inadequate security for students’ hostels; need to build bumps on the busy Ondo – Ore road to prevent accident and death which usually occur on the road and better welfare conditions. They were also suspended for demanding provision of stable power supply especially during examination period and their opposition to the Institution management’s agenda to allow the building of a United Bank of Africa (UBA) branch near a female hostel among others.

On July 2, 2009, the Students’ Union leaders called a congress in order to address all these issues. At the congress the overwhelming majority of students approved the student union leaders’ positions on the issues. That same night, the issue of insecurity already raised by the Students Union degenerated when a group of bandits attacked a female hostel. Livid with anger, students trooped to the streets in protest. Instead of immediately finding means to meet the demands, the management responded with an indefinite closure of the institution.

However during the closure, the union leaders began a campaign for the immediate reopening of the institution and meeting of students’ demands. This included press work and submission of a petition titled “Save our Soul” to the Ministry of Education, National Council of Education (NCE), the education committees of both houses of the National Assembly as well as other government agencies to complain about the anti-student policies of the College Management, the despotic methods of the Provost and the Management refusal to meet students demands. The gravity of the allegations in the union’s petition made the Minister of Education to query the institution management.

Irked by the query, the Institution management set up a kangaroo trial for five of the Students’ Union leaders who signed the petition. The allegation against them was that they signed a petition containing false allegations against the management thus embarrassing the Institution. On January 2009, the five union executives were suspended for 2 academic sessions each while the Students’ Union was also banned.

Despite injustice meted to them by the Management, the Zone D (South West) leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) rather than take up the struggle for their reinstatement gave a lavish award to the provost of the College in exchange for money. It took the efforts of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) as well as other groups like the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CDHR) and individuals for the Management could reinstate them.

The ERC took the struggle upon itself since April 2009 with both political and press action to put pressure on the management to consider the management and Ondo state government for dialogue but none of these yielded any result. In October 2009, the ERC organized some political actions within the campus which included pasting posters and distribution of leaflets calling for the reinstatement of the victimized activists. In one of these actions, members of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) were arrested and they include Lawal Rafiu and Sofowora Tobi by the police in Ondo State.

Undeterred, the ERC organized another action on the campus two days later which involved distribution of handbills and leaflets calling on students to fight for the reinstatement of their union leaders and restoration of the Students’ Union. Scared of the radicalizing effect of these actions on the generality of students, the management quickly called for dialogue with the ERC to resolve the matter. At the end, the suspended union leaders were reinstated to write their final year examinations which would enable them graduate from the institution. The Students Union has also been restored. Indeed, struggle pays.