Of Character and Learning: Answering Mr. Sunday Saanu.
History is sometimes favourable to those who know the use of print. It is marked by or indicative of significant worth or consequence, valuable in content or relationship, obsolete, importunate and urgent to correct propaganda once it is in print. Two to three publications in dailies with nationwide reaches have been employed in the gross vilification of the struggles of the students of the University of Ibadan. I believe there is a need to combat these varying but equally-egregious shades of the singular, biased account of the situation with a view to enlightening the public as to what truly went down at the premier university.
WHAT LED TO THE PROTEST
Mr Sunday Saanu, the Special Assistant to the Vice-Chancellor on Media, in an attempt to demonize a genuine struggle by students of the University of Ibadan who have been groaning consistently under a system they dared not accuse of its numerous shortcomings.
He refused to acknowledge the facts – that students were wrongfully expelled from the university; that freedom of speech is consistently stifled on campus; that students have paid for their ID cards for 2 sessions but they haven’t received what they paid for; that despite the express permission of the Senate of the University of Ibadan, through the Students Information handbook; that students can use hotplate in their kitchenettes but porters have been harassing our ladies in their halls of residence, and that illegal fines are constantly levied on female students at the end of every session for repairs which will never be done.
All of these things culminated in the events which led to the protest. However, in lieu of proffering long-term solutions to the discontentment between students and the Administration, the likes of Mr Sunday Saanu have been throwing vitriolic writings at us. But to what end? His actions are selfish and self-serving, nothing but an unfair validation of protracted injury to conscience and truthfulness.
Mr Sunday Saanu also mentioned some Congress resolutions that do not align with the provisions of reality. The outcome of the Congress was already sealed before I was elected President. [On April 22, University of Ibadan students resolved at a Congress that if their ID cards were not ready 2 weeks before exams, there would be a confrontation. I inherited the Union with such resolutions of the Congress that is capable, constitutionally, to dissolve the Executive Council.] These resolutions, Mr Sunday Saanu was never privy to having in a documented version. Instead, he conjured some banal concoctions aimed at downplaying the Congress of students on campus. Well, it is his job. I only advise the public to reject the lies in his article.
The Congress truly resolved that there would be a protest simply to draw public attention to their plight. Students have suffered as a result of not having their ID cards to let them off the hook of policemen who harassed them. Several times I had to take the Union bus down to Iwo Road to get our students released from policemen. In the case of the adamant ones [the policemen], we would threaten that we would block the road and protest on that scene. The Union wrote a letter to the Commissioner of Police on that issue.
All of these, Mr Sunday did not add. That is the danger of a single story. Instead, he accused the Union of being used by those who have issues with our VC. How pitiful! He said, “Going by their short-fused, hell-raising and impetuous grandstanding, it was glaring that there were more to the protest than meets the eye.” Let the Honorable Vice-Chancellor not make sustained attempts at solving these issues, he will continue to face punches from organized labour and students. If the enemies of the VC are at work with the students, how about the labour unions that go on strike actions most often than none? The enemies of the VC too?
How this misconception came I am not sure. But that is so false but strange. My University should be able to perform a psychoanalysis of me and the Union I lead to decipher our candour. I also advise that the Honorable Vice-Chancellor change his media aide who, despite the availability of information about me on the internet, does not even have any information about the Students’ Union or its President. Let me introduce myself here; My name is Ojo Aderemi, a student of the Department of History, Faculty of Arts, University of Ibadan and a diploma graduate of the same department [I ran my Diploma program in History and Diplomatic Studies and finished with a 2.1. That was between the 2012/2013 and 2014/2015 sessions].
I did my work “Nigeria’s Peacekeeping and Funding Role in ECOWAS; 1975-2010;” a project presented to the Department of History, the University of Ibadan in partial fulfilment for acquiring a Diploma certificate. I was a student journalist and a member of the Association of Faculty of Arts Students Press Organization [AFAS Press]; 2014-15. During my membership in AFAS Press[2014-15]. I served as the Political Editor of the Union of Campus Journalists, University of Ibadan . I’m an article writer and I have published articles in Medcion, a publication of the University of Ibadan Medical Students Organization -UIMSA [2015 and 2016]. I was a Visiting Editor and contributing columnist in 2015 for an annual Faculty of Agriculture magazine; Green. Subsequently, in 2015, I joined My School Podcast [a student podcasting platform which is first in West Africa] as News Editor and News Presenter.
I am a founding member of the Podcasting Company [which operates within the University of Ibadan]. I held positions in several student organisations; including Public Relations Officer of the All-Nigeria United Nations Students and Youths Association [ANUNSA] -2014/15. I was subsequently appointed the Chairman of the Publicity Committee of the same organization. I am a member of ENACTUS [University of Ibadan], an entrepreneurial organization which invents ideas that benefit poor people around the world [joined 2015]. I have worked with African Liberty Students’ Organization [joined in 2015], Okigbo Poetry Club [joined in 2014], DINAMICA -a public speaking platform [joined in 2015] and LUNACA Eye Foundation, a charity organization established by Obeta Ameh [joined in 2015] and Young African Diplomat. I was, for months, an intern at the Nigerian Tribune in 2015.
Based on personal admiration for the first student-martyr in Nigeria, I volunteered to be a member of the Kunle Adepeju Memorial Day Planning Committee [2015 and 2016]. I am a public speaker. I participated twice in the All Campus Debating Competition -Jaw War [2014 and 2015] and several other public speaking competitions. I am a friend of several Literary and Debating Societies within and outside the University. Based on my emphasis on discipline I was proposed to be Vice President of the Literary and Debating Society of the Faculty of Arts, University of Ibadan . I am the founder of the Patriotic Intelligentsia -an organization of political minds from different fields [2016 to present]. As a writer, my focus on student unionism has formed the groundwork for Union history for future researchers. I left campus journalism for student politics in early 2016 after a stint of accomplishments in the field.
In 2016, I was nominated as the Student Literary Icon of the Year under the Ojo Emmanuel Oluwanifemi-led administration of the University of Ibadan Students Union. I became President of the University of Ibadan Students Union on May 8. Before you become Students Union President at my University, there is a specified CGPA limit to ascertain your academic capability. Mr Sunday Saanu was not objective in his article. By my consultation, Mr Sunday Saanu should be sued because his publication was libellous. Devoid of fairness and philosophy, Mr Sunday Saanu’s article explained that students are divided into three sub-categories. In my view of his hate-filled “analysis”, he has only succeeded in committing an error against logic. It is called “reductio ad absurdum”.
The reduction of political progress to absurdity. He is probably one of those who think the University is meant to produce academic geniuses but political dummies who cannot stand on their two feet. The University is meant to produce thinkers who want to change the society, who want to heal the corruption and rottenness in this land. The real world does not allow for such people who cram and pour just to graduate and become wage labourers. Mr Sunday Saanu has refused to enter the 21st century with us. Today, most Union leaders in our University are avid readers who want to convince the student population with debates. If he wishes to debate me, I will so agree. That is if ego anchored on gerontocracy, as evident in his article, would not prevent it.
THE MEMORABILIA OF A SEPTUAGENARIAN STUDENTS’ UNION
This is a brief history extracted and pieced together from the memorabilia of a Septuagenarian students’ union. The Premier Aluta in Nigeria, University of Ibadan, in terms of her students’ academic achievement [past and present] despite heavy students’ union activities in politics, journalism, religion, literary and debating, humanitarian works, entrepreneurship, innovation and research, sporting etc. We choose to present the University of Ibadan Students’ Union hall of fame against the libellous publications of Mr Sunday Saanu titled: “UI Students Protest: Of Character and Learning” targeted at blackmailing us perhaps to gain cheap popularity at expense of giving a platform to the hard-earned achievements of the entire students’ body [past and present].
We are proud of our achievements despite limited resources and we will not hold back the necessary projection of the same by every legal means. We are audacious, doubtless, but we are far from unguided youthful exuberance. I hereby present to you, a very short list of excellent individuals in students’ unionism and academic achievements; Leroy C Edozien, Public Relation Officer of Students’ Union 1975/76, a graduate of the College of Medicine with global recognition for his brilliant contribution to the medical line; Ayantola Alayande Maximus, Public Relation Officer of Students’ Union 2014/15, a first class graduate of department of Classics; Taiye Adegoke T-Cent, Public Relation Officer of Students’ Union 2013/14, a first class student of Law; Osho Friday, President of NAAS 2009/10, a first class graduate of department of Fisheries; Adeoye, General Secretary of NAAS 2007/08, a first class graduate of department of Agric econs; Olufadewa Mayokun, Financial Secretary of NAAS 2010/11, a first class graduate; Temitope Sobulo, Vice President of Obafemi Awolowo Hall, a first Class graduate of Geology; Daniel Oluwaseun-Kenechukwu Nkemelu, Arrow Head Emmanuel Ojo Nifemi Campaign committee and Chairman of FASSAIEC, a 7.0 graduate of Computer Science; Mariam Olufuye, President of LSS 2011/12, a first Class graduate of Law.
Adelabu Labzy Adeola who contested for the presidency of NANS but lost with just one vote finished with a 2.1; Amuda Mosigbodi – Plato Bamidele who was Zik Hall Chairman finished from Philosophy Department with 2.1; Timi Olagunju was Zik Hall Chairman and was a recipient of the Mandela Washington Fellowship [Presidential Precinct Award]” THE UNION AT 70 AND OUR PLANS The Students’ Union of our University will be 70 years by 2018.
She is probably the oldest of all students’ unions in West Africa. Reflecting on my words at the Manifesto Night, I can remember having said that “our Union will be known for effective collaboration and communication, critical thinking and creativity” but most importantly I stressed the need for the Union to be known for dedication to the improvement of welfare and respect for the dignity of our members. I did say those words with utmost conviction and belief. I am convinced that a 21st-century Students’ Union must blend with the progress of this period. I remember that I keenly followed developments at the national level. I knew we could use the Students’ Union to effect changes that will reflect in national history.
ON NATIONAL ISSUES
I addressed a few of these issues in my inaugural address;
- I talked about the shameful underfunding b of education in the country.
- I talked about the need for a referendum among the Igbos.
- I also talked about the readiness of the Union to support the education of Chibok girls through scholarships.
- I talked about the anti-graft war of President Muhammadu Buhari and our willingness to be part of a sincere struggle against corruption.
- We were preparing for engagements as regard all of these things including an International Anti-Corruption Conference when our generational crisis manifested.
- Members of the Facts Count team [who represented the university at Boston, in the United States for the Hult Prize Competition did an attendance prediction of the last Congress. It was an excellent exercise.
- We have contracted the Students Research Network [STURN] to research UI students’ poverty index and the work has reached a stage of completion. The majority of those at the Congress signed the questionnaires.
- We were preparing to float a Hackathon on Students Welfare Management. Despite all, and with absolute trust that we will have everything restored to us soon, I do enjoin our computer science students, all other individuals who can code well, and critical and creative thinkers from all disciplines interested in participating in the Hackathon to please do.
That the alumni and other stakeholders have intervened in the peace process doesn’t mean we were wrong. We simply want the whole world to know that we are all about the welfare of students within the University of Ibadan and in other schools around the country. We are always open to dialogue and we won’t employ being a rascal to drive home our demands. Mr Sunday’s overtly-biased account only contributes to a larger narrative of the youths being silenced and vilified when they dare to speak up against what they sense to be an injustice being perpetrated against them. In his deliberate unfairness refused to acknowledge the decency of Union leaders in this age as many of us are dedicated Christians and Moslems who will not compromise the mandate given to them. The Students’ Union of our University is dedicated to advancing the interest of oppressed students around the world and will not stop at her attempt to change the course of history for good.