BY: THE INFORMANT EDITORIAL
Tertiary education in Nigeria is becoming quite tough compared to that of other countries, From the period of trying to secure admission by sitting for series of unending tests asides the senior secondary certificate exams, to a lot of hardship that hinder most students’ progress in school.
The hardship and injustice done to Nigerian students in our tertiary institutions and even secondary schools these days are no longer conforming to acceptability. Ordinarily, a student would have heard stories of the last few decades. The stories of how students would assess their lecturers, and go directly to make official reports of thier conducts, without fear of being punished unjustly. The stories of how students would Exercise thier comradeship power in public without phobia of being victimised by the school authorities or get tied up by the security operatives.The stories our generation is left to contend with; as always told by our parents – older generation. And these were the realities of yesterday, but the rhetoric and fairy tales of today.
Ideally, there should be an open door relationship between university authorities and students, to allow for better communication between the duo and assist students in academics and other issues they may encounter during the course of thier stay in the institution. In order to achieve this, the governing body of various institutions typically provides a mechanism through which students can organise themselves in a governance structure that enables them to articulate their views. These levels of representation are necessary in the area of reform if theacachall of governance in the institutions are to be addressed. Each of the public institutions in Nigeria has a student governing body referred to by different names such as students’ union, student union government or student union Association ( usually used by the national, state and indigenous student body).
Generally, the students’ union is both a student platform for addressing various social, political and corporate issues of the student community and a link between students and school management.
Student activism is not limited to higher education institutions; it even has influence national issues in the country. In cases where students feel underrepresented, misrepresented or not represented at all in the formal decision-making processes of university governance, the likelihood of student activism increases.
Over the years, students have continue to advocate for what they believed in, and were actively involved in their institution’s governance. Opposition politics would not be complete without student activism, Even during the era of brutal military dictatorship, The students remain proactive in campaigning for their rights and those of their fellow citizens in spite of the unsympathetic and repressive political climate that may prevail.
But today, the degree of autonomy given to student activism is under attack. There is no more fertile condition for exercising ‘comradeship power’. Victimization of students by school management has been growing with each passing year, every case worse than the last. The quality of some graduates goes a long way to attest to the fact that there is a deep cancer in the tertiary institution system. A system where students live in constant fear of victimisation by the school authorities should they voice out against thier persistence injustice. A system where student risk making KIRIKIRI maximum prison an abode should they cry out for democratisation, and social justice.
Prior to the recent ban on student union activities at the University of Ibadan, there were different cases of student’s rights desecration, among which was the detention of Fourteen student activists of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), including Adeyeye Olorunfemi – a UNILAG student, who was rusticated for four semester for being vocal against repressive actions of the Professor Rahman Bello-led management of the institution- were reportedly arrested for protesting against the rustication of a visually-impaired student, Lawrence Success, and Ochuba Polycarp, who the institution said it rusticated despite having graduated.
Also, the case of a student who died at federal University of technology, minna Clinic due to the un-timely and reluctant intervention of the medical personnel at the school clinic. A situation which angered the students and forced them to stage a protest, though the protest was violent and the student had to pay dearly for it, but what seems to escape the media was the fact that the University Management never had a cause to pay for the life of a student that died due to thier negligence. What actions were taken to save FUNNABITES, as they clamoured, after policemen opened fire on their protesting colleagues?
Recently, The University of Ibadan (UI) management suspended all student union activities following a protest that resulted in a shutdown of the institution. According to the student Union president, com. Ojo Aderemi, The students at a congress on Saturday passed a resolution to go on a peaceful protest ahead of their semester Examination, if students were not provided with identity cards which they had paid for over three semesters ago, and also asked the authorities to constitute the Students’ Welfare Board as well as allow use of cooking appliances that had been banned in the halls of residence. But all they got was the suspension of Academic Calenders and a ban on student Union activities.
In spite of all these injustice, instead of the concerned authorities to look into it cause and proffer the possible way to curtain it, they prefer to go ahead compounding the situation by arresting, Victimising, rusticating, expelling, jailing of students and also banning of student Union activities, even when the Section 7AAA of the Nigerian Universities Act 2003 as amended, stated clearly that students must bewell represented when decisions that have to do with the affairs of students are to be resolved.
However, what the Government and school management fails to understand is that, for democracy to flourish, and for student activisim to be minimised it is important for power and authority to be shared and distributed fairly and decentralised effectively among all the dominant groups within the campus community. In addition, there should be a way through which student would be able to lay complaint and reach the authority without necessarily dislosing there identity or passing through rigourous steps.
This is therefore a clarion call on goverment and other relevant stakeholders to see other ways through which Students’ call and needs can be addressed asides shooting, maiming, arresting, expelling and banning of student union activities.
Till nextweek Sunday, THE INFORMANT EDITORIAL says, ‘Do have a lovely week’
THE INFORMANT247 EDITORIAL