FOR RESTORATION OF STUDENTS' UNION!
Appeal for protest letters and solidarity
By Kola Ibrahim
Consequent upon the mass pressure from students to restore the union and a planned April 12 Congress of students to actualize this, the authorities of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, immediately set in motion the process of victimizing activists who have been at the forefront of the campaign for the restoration of the students' union. A day after a April 3 symposium organised by the Students' Union Transition Committee (SUTC) where the April 12 congress was agreed to, 15 activists and supporters of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) (4 of whom are members in the Democratic Socialist Movement - DSM) were served letters inviting them to a vindictive disciplinary panel. The 4 DSM members are: Adebale Kehinde (Secretary DSM OAU), Olubanji Oluwole (Secretary ERC OAU), Eniayekan Odunayo and Ibirogba Samuel. (see: OAU ADMINISTRATION MOVE TO VICTIMISESTUDENT ACTIVISTS)
No doubt, the invitation to the panel was a desperate attempt of the university administration to intimidate the activists and ensure that the planned congress was not held and ultimately the students' union is not restored. The management correctly fear what could happen if the congress was held. Such is the anger of the mass of students at the continued ban of the union as well as the deteriorating welfare conditions that such a congress could make the restoration of the Students Union irreversible. It was to avert this fate that the management hurriedly dragged the leading activists of the campaign to restore the union before a disciplinary panel.
Contained in the letters were frivolous allegations which read thus:
"(1) that on the 1st December, 2012 against the express directive of the University, did organise or took part in a symposium organized by the Education Rights Campaign (ERC), an unregistered association on campus
(2) that on 5th December, 2012 at about 0830hours, with some other persons, attempted to chase other students away from lecture halls thereby disrupting academic and social activities on the university campus
(3) in the early hours of the morning of December 2, 2012 broke into floor "O" of the University hall on the campus , destroyed window panes and physically assaulted Mr. A.V. Adeyemo, one of the security men on duty at the time"
A 4th allegation similar to the 1st was also slammed at some:
"(4) that against the express directive of the University not to partake in any activity organised by the Democratic Socialist Movement, not being a registered association in the University, did participate in a meeting held by the said association on the 26th and 27th March, 2013 respectively, at the Faculty of Administration Basement"
These allegations are frivolous and flagrant infringement of their democratic rights which includes the right to freedom of association as provided for in the 1999 constitution. The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), affiliated to the Committee for a Workers International (CWI), is a socialist organisation of workers, poor masses, youth and the oppressed strata of the society that fights for collective and democratic ownership and control of the economy by the working masses in order to ensure the judicious use for the provision of basic needs such as free education, free health care, decent jobs, etc. The DSM has been in existence for nearly 30 years and has been at the forefront of the struggle of the working people against military rule and since 1999 has been playing crucial role in the general strikes and mass struggles against capitalist anti-poor policies in the workplaces, communities and campuses. The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) was formed by the DSM in 2004 to deepen the struggle against fee hikes and other capitalist anti-poor education policies.
Our socialist ideas including the leading roles we play in campaigns against anti-poor education policies of the government and school management naturally attracts change-seeking elements including workers, students and youths to us which as far as we are concerned is within the remit of their democratic rights. We find it unacceptable that a university, an academic environment that should serve as a fertile ground for democratic debates of ideas with a view to changing society, is being run like a maximum security prison where the most basic democratic rights are crushed.
That the administration raises eyebrows at gatherings of students under the ERC and DSM shows that it is undemocratic and despotic and its clear hatred for dissenting views. The DSM and ERC have over time argued for the democratization of the decision making structures of the University to include elected representatives of staff, students and other stakeholders within the university community.
Fifteen (15) young people exercising their rights to freedom of association and expression are being hounded before a disciplinary panel with the aim of expelling them from school. We demand immediate withdrawal of the allegations against the 15 student activists and immediate restoration of the students' union with immediate conduct of elections
We also call on all sections of the CWI, trade unions, staff unions, students unions and activists nationally and internationally to join in condemning this vicious attack on democratic rights.
Protest letters can be forwarded to the following:
and copies sent to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also call or send text messages to the following numbers:
Vice-Chancellor – 08037211502; Registrar – 08034970823; Vice Dean, Students' Affairs - 08066066540; Secretary, Disciplinary Panel - 08139348466