What transpired last night at Amphitheater is an eyesore which must be critically addressed by stakeholders; students and management in order to avoid reoccurrence of such issue in the nearest time. It must be noted that this issue if not properly moderated by security operatives can metamorphosed into a total imbroglio which would in no doubt disrupt the relative peace being enjoyed on campus by both students and staffs. The sad incidence if not for the resistance displayed by the mass of students and the support from security operatives could have degenerated into a stage that won’t be worth mentioning or giving credence to in our history as there’s high probability of casualties.
I am not unaware of the zero tolerance of the University management towards cultism, but, it is shameful to note that despite the stance of the University management against cultism, these neo-liberal elements could openly unleash terror on students where they are gathered. The act without hiding under any umbrella whatsoever is appalling and form the basis of a sad narrative.
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Though, I could not witness the sad incidence as ‘on the Iroko’ sleeping after a long day but the distress call that was placed through me by one of the frontiers of the resistance brought me to consciousness after which I wore my cloth to witness what was happening and join in the resistance too. Fortunately, the fire has been partially doused before I got there and some of the culprits apprehended. I must however commend those who forsook their comfort to sustain the legacy of zero-tolerance to cultism while ensuring that the environment is stabilized and made conducive for students.
It is my belief that the management at this stage does not need a soothsayer on the need to immediately and unconditionally reinstate Students’ Union activities on campus as that is the only means through which the students can collectively resist cultism in all form as its tentacles is being spread like wildfire in the dry season. It is not gainsaying that the resistance was spearheaded by ‘ex-Unionists’ before the arrival of security operatives and the arrest would not have been that smooth if not for the intervention of ‘ex-Unionists’ that were there present, determined to sustain the Union’s non-tolerance to cultism. It is high-time a massive campaign is launched against cultism on OAU campus.
A university campus is like a barrack where soldiers stand and move as one. Their collective interest is protected by one call. They march to an order and protect the entire community (as large as a nation) just by one command. Any desperate attempt to bring this union to disarray does not only threaten peace in the barrack but also threatens living in the hosting community. This is a pointer to the alarmingly increasing rate of robbery, rape, gang beating, molestation among others in Ile-Ife today. Although many may view the clamor for reinstatement of the Students’ Union from a myopic angle as being unnecessary so that “we can graduate on time”, the fact still remains that we are all victims and the families of the departed souls and other injured (physically and mentally) students also wanted to see their children graduate. But where there is no peace, there is no life. We are beginning to welcome back, the era of cultism and other social vices on campus if we remain silent to their singular acts per time that serve as clue to their growth and increase in strength under our nostrils.
The peace and tranquility enjoyed in Ife today has lasted for about twenty years but we need be told that it didn’t come with an expiry date and should thus not spoil on our head. Just in form of an orientation for those who need it, Great I’ve Students Union is a body of all students of Obafemi Awolowo University who are bequeathed with the duty to enhance (via quest and watch) the institution to be able to provide world class education, shunning mediocrity in ensuring that students and products of the institution get the type of education and life they deserve to be able to compete with their contemporaries across the globe. Be it as it may, the actualization of this goal earned us the name GREAT IFE in diaspora. It thus becomes our responsibility to promote and protect this glory.
Woodrow Wilson once said: “A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do. We are trying to do a futile thing if we do not know where we came from or what we have been about.” In seeking to discuss the ugly incident that happened last night, it is imperative to remind the University management that the alibi that was given for the suspension of Students’ Union activities on campus which has signaled a total clampdown on the rights of students on campus ranging from criminalizing the gathering of students which is a violation of the right to Freedom of Association and Assembly; a godly and humanly recognized right was the cases of serial violence happening around campus which the management believed is being caused due to the presence of Students’ Union and that, to edify the ugly situation, there is a need to violate the Students’ right by placing a ban on Union activities not minding the legal implications of such action.
Today, we now live in that instant of time when it won’t be wrong to conclude that never before have we been this maltreated while our rights are openly trampled upon. This open democratic republic which ordinarily should have been man’s highest achievement (not only for what it has already accomplished, but more importantly, because it affords the greatest opportunity for orderly change and the realization of man’s self-renewing aspirations) is now being turned to a nightmare while the people are being made to live in perpetual fear; the fear of asking questions and of speaking against that which is unjust and evil. It is understandable that no society, whether free or tyrannical can give its citizens the “right” to break the law as there is no law to which obedience is optional, but, it is interesting to note that both the University management and yesterday’s invaders are guilty of disobedience to the law of the land which forms the pinnacle of our existence as a people. We might be imperfect in the handlings of the affairs of the Union which the management is also guilty of based on their actions and inactions, but, our imperfections do not justify tearing down the structure which has given us our progress and helped stabilized the University to a very reasonable extent.
Kazeem Olalekan Israel (GANI)