By Ogunjimi James Taiwo
“There comes a time when deceit and defiance must be seen for what they are. At that point, a gathering danger must be directly confronted. At that point, we must show that beyond our resolution is actual resolve.” – Dick Cheney
Today is a day that will be forever etched in the memories of OOU students, the leadership of the union, and the school management. What makes today a day to remember is not just that students trooped out to protest, it is because the students came out en masse for the congress and actually stayed and saw the congress to a desired end, which gave way to the historical protest that was held.
Those who were present at the congress will bear me witness that the turnout today was one of its kind. More than two thousand students rose up and joined the protest to challenge the obnoxious policies that the Acting Vice chancellor was bent on implementing. Some of the policies are:
i) That the students that have not paid their fees for last session will lose their studentship.
ii) An increment of #10,000 naira each will be paid by each students on the school fees to be paid for this session.
iii) The issue of pasting of result; the school said results of students will no longer be pasted, but what they will now see will be PASS or FAIL; no grade.
iv) The issue of the buses that were donated by Governor Amosun; since their donation last year, the buses have been parked in the school compound without being used, while the issue of transportation continues to weigh OOUites down.
v) The issue of mobilisation of the recent graduates; the news filtering out was that they will not be going for service by March again, but the office of the Dean of Students’ Affairs actually collected money from the students, but the DSA came out this week to say that the he wasn’t aware of the money that was collected by workers IN HIS OFFICE and that the students had to repay the money again.
The congress suffered a minor setback very early in the morning, as the Union President who was supposed to champion and lead the congress was nowhere to be found at the time slated for the congress to begin. The students were later told that the Union president was in a meeting with the Deputy Vice Chancellor and the Dean of Students’ Affairs. The students were already getting restless, and it took the intervention of some of the student leaders and progressives to stop them from going down to the Administrative block to personally drag the president down. He eventually showed up and students were told to move down to the venue of the congress. At the venue, the students had to wait for more than an hour before Aluta songs started, and another 15 mins before the president could address the students.
After saluting the students in the normal way, he proceeded to explain what had necessitated the congress and what it was supposed to achieve. He told students to air their grievances and reel out their opinions and it will be forwarded to appropriate quarters, and that the union should be given 7 days to get back to them. The students who have been betrayed in like manner before refused. He continued to ‘psych’ the students until they had nearly lost the drive and determination to pursue the issue to a reasonable end. It took a timely intervention of members of Committee for the defence of human rights(CDHR) and some dogged students to re-awaken the spirit of the students and remind them of the reason for gathering. The CDHR coordinator in OOU, after been denied the opportunity to speak finally mounted the podium and challenged the students. The cry of students after then was unmistakable; there was no going back, the SUG president should lead the students on a peaceful protest.
That was not to be however, as the union president blatantly refused to lead the students. For over two hours, student leaders tried to convince him on the need to bow to the will of students and lead them on a peaceful protest. But in a manner that reeked of betrayal, he refused and marched out of the hall. The students, visibly enraged refused to allow him to go to the union building and demanded that he either leads the student or he won’t go anywhere.
He finally bowed to the will of the students, but led the students to the DSA instead, the students refused to listen and chanted “VC, VC, VC, VC” until he had to lead the students to the VC’s office. Arriving at the VC’s office, we were told the VC was not on ground and that the DVC would address students. After listening to the same gibberish and pack of lies that we’ve always heard, a staunch member of CDHR had to speak up again and informed the students that we don’t need to listen to the lies the management was selling; he announced that students should gather at the union building tomorrow so as to send out the message to them loud and clear and ground all activities until the demands were met. The students forsook what the DVC or union was saying and actually agreed that ALL students were to meet in school the next day. As the place was becoming insecure, the CDHR comrades had to leave the venue, with students visibly overjoyed that they still have un-intimidatable voices and persons willing to fight their cause.
Conclusively, we salute the courage of the more than two thousand (2000) students that trooped out to press for a reversal of those anti-students policies. However, our struggle is not over. We have made necessary consultations with appropriate quarters, and we assure our students that AS LONG AS WE STICK TO PEACEFUL PROTEST, nobody can do anything to anybody. Tomorrow, we re-converge at the union building where we make our stand until victory is ours.
Aluta Continua! Victoria Ascerta!! Amandla Awethu, Nothing shall discourage us.
Ogunjimi James Taiwo