Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM



  • Students Must Support Action Committee To Organise and Lead Imminent Fight Back
By Micheal Lenin

The attacks on the students of Obafemi Awolowo University have increased ever since the Professor Ogunbodede-led administration suspended the Students’ Union of the institution. It was the bold attempt by Great Ife students to rescue their union from the betrayal of their union leadership, who had diminished the union into a PR unit of the University management, which caused the management to suspend the union. Students had impeached the infamous President of the union, and were on the verge of restoring the union into a radical platform of agitation. But the management recognised the dangers such would pose to its prepared anti-students’ policies, and suspended the union to prevent any form of organised resistance against such anti-students’ polices.

The Congress of the union convoked after the suspension recognised the need for a committee of trusted activists to continue steering the political affairs of the union, and set up an Action Committee in this regard. Currently, the action committee is the only active organ of the union attempting to mobilise students around slogans for independence of the union and abolition of the unwholesome accommodation policy of the management.

The members of the ERC had warned that the proscription of the union would be accompanied by intense degree of students’ oppression and suffering, and about the time a new accommodation policy of the management was hoisted. The management had about the time of the Union’s proscription enforced an accommodation policy that displaced 70% of students’ population from the university hostels. Being a policy enforced with no thimble of foresight, the students taking up accommodation in town are facing attacks of rape, armed robbery, and even flooding. The Ife-Modakeke township has a history of internecine conflicts, and structurally unsuitable for students’ habitation, aside its alarming security history. The transport congestion problem that followed the mass migration to Ife Modakeke town has not been resolved, as there are more students residing off campus than the previous commercial busses could convey.

Notably, the university management, despite being responsible for the insecurity faced by students in town, has turned deaf ears to the cries of students who have become victims of gruesome murder, rape, theft and physical assaults. The obvious benefits of this ill-fated displacement of student have accrued to the owners of private hostels, some of whom are top management staff of the university. Besides the constant threat to life and property, students have also become objects of extortion in the face of exorbitant rents.

There have been instances of harassment, assault, arrest, victimization of student activists by the university management. Just a year ago, five student activists of the university were remanded for more than a week at Kosere prison on trump up charges, at the same time when three other students were under suspension for participating in a peaceful protest. It took the resolute actions of members of Education Rights Campaign, left organisations on the campus, mass of students, activists across various institutions to save the students from the beastly jaws of the university management.

The university management has sustained an atmosphere of fear in the institution, turning the school to a barrack where students are browbeaten into order-taking zombies. Recently, three student activists were arrested in the most bestial manner, and driven off to a jungle, where they were detained until public outcry on social media forced the authorities to release them. There is a tendency of gestapo policing among the university security operatives, which betrays the highhanded style of management of the Ogunbodede-regime.

Students are beginning to organise a fight back now that a new session is beginning. For many, illusions have cleared off concerning the cruelty of living and learning conditions. But this brewing anger must be organised for effective impact on the entrenched anti-student management of the institution. The action committee of the union must overcome the divide and rule principle that accompanied the accommodation policy by taking political sensitisation to students living in town and on the campus. The present conditions might have made organising resistance difficult, but not impossible. Students have demonstrated that they feel the harsh reality, but the action committee and the left elements in the committee must educate the studentry through symposia (both in town and on campus) and massive leafleting to now demand that conditions creating those realities be removed.

The present challenges facing Great Ife students also reveal the ugly dimension to education underfunding. With the current peanuts earmarked for public tertiary institutions in the country, heads of these institutions continue to find flimsy justification to loot school treasury and defraud their students. The struggle for improved welfare,

right to independent students unions and end to attacks of students in OAU must then be connected with the public education-wide struggle for proper funding of the education sector and democratic control. The Vice Chancellors, Rectors and Provosts, with their tyranny, only serve as screen to fence the governments away from the anger of students. But students must go over their heads, despite the distraction they tend to create, by broadening their demands for adequately funded public education and for democratic management of institutions’ finances.