Ojo Adeyemi, a 200-level student of University of Ibadan is the Students Union President of the institution recently shut down due to students’ unrest. He discusses in this interview with Akinyemi Doyinsola, events that culminated in the shutdown as well, demands of the generality of students among other issues.
What led to the faceoff between students and the school management?
There are remote causes as well as immediate causes. The remote causes include age long distrust of Administration by students, attempt at stifling the freedom of expression and association, non issuance of ID cards by the Administration for 3 semesters now, Unjust suspension/expulsion of students on campus, attack on students rights (to use electrical appliances such as cooker in our hostels), poor welfare condition, need to constitute welfare board among others.
The immediate causes include threat from the commissioner, threat and non compliance of the VC to students’ demands which include tendering apology to students for the delay in the issuance of ID cards.
What steps were taken to drive your demands, before the Protest that later became a topic of public discuss?
We have met the Administration on different occasions. Letters have been written to the Administration on this issue. It was an inherited crisis. The Administration did not inform students on the state of things. We were put in the dark for too long.
What other actions have you taken, after the controversial closure?
We have been enlightening the Union members and members of the public on the issue. We have contacted as many people as possible on the matter regarding the suspension of the Union.
We have also engaged the press as regards this.
What are your major demands from school management?
Our major demand is the immediate reopening of the school. Others include;
>That the Students’ Union be reinstated and immediate stop to the Students’ Union constitution review process be effected.
>That electric cookers be allowed for use by students in kitchenettes only as stipulated in the ethics governing halls of residences as entrenched in the Students Information handbook.
As a partner in progress, the Students’ Union will propose the installation of hotplates in the kitchenettes so as to reduce the number of students using hotplates as well as to cut electricity bill in our halls of residence. Morever, pending the time the process of installation is ongoing, students should be allowed to use their hotplates in the kitchenettes. It is important to state that this demand has direct effect on survival on campus.
>That the cases of wrongfully rusticated/expelled students be reviewed.
The University Management have declared the Students’ Union & her activities suspended, what is your reaction to this?
The Students Union is an essential part of the University system. If a University does not have such societies as the students union, then there is no University. Our Union is not a bmix-mag that can be suspended just like that. Neither is it a cube of sugar that can be dissolved. Section 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria emphasizes the right to associate. We will fight this undemocratic attempt at ridiculing our democracy by every legitimate means necessary.
Without a Union students cannot be guaranteed safe life on campus. They can’t resist any anti student policy without a Union. The Union has to be reinstated. That is non-negotiable.
Your school management have alleged on several occasions, that you disrespected the vice chancellor. Is this true?
I don’t disrespect my colleagues not to talk of elderly people. Since the Vice Chancellor has been accusing me of this, there has never been any specific reference to the insult. Insulting the Vice Chancellor is not part of my mandate. It does not change anything. It does not improve the welfare of students so what good will that be to us? No! I didn’t insult the Vice Chancellor.
There was a threat from the Commissioner of Police to arrest you and other unit leaders, were you at any time arrested?
No. Students don’t leave me to walk alone so it is impossible to for Policemen to arrest me. There was the rumour that my arrest has been ordered so I don’t disclose my location. If I get arrested, students will shut the entire city down until I am released. That is how much we don’t joke with our Union leaders.
I did not commit any crime so no one can harass me.