Governor Amosun's Action is a Mockery of Democracy
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) condemns the forced closure of Olabisi OnabanjoUniversity (OOU) by the Ibikunle Amosun state government. We are equally opposed to the militarisation of the campus by the state government which was meant to demobilise the mass of students from organizing further planned mass actions against the fee hike.
We demand the immediate reopening of the University and the meeting of all demands of students for substantial reduction in their hiked fees and improved funding of the University.
According to press reports, the closure is to "forestall breakdown of law and order". This argument is ridiculous. It is also a mockery of democracy. By this closure, the message the state government is passing across is that once students disagree with a government policy, the consequence would be to be "labelled as threat to peace of the state", the closure of their campus and the disruption of their academics.
Governor Ibikunle Amosun should check his language. In this era of boko haram terror, describing ordinary students and young people who are merely protesting for their rights as "threat to peace" is highly damaging to the image of these students who are the Nation's future and moreover, it is an insult to their parents.
The real reason the State government closed down the University is to avoid meeting the demands of students for substantial reduction in their hiked fees to an amount not higher than N50, 000. To achieve this, the State government is trying to criminalize the students and prepare the ground for police arrests and other forms of victimisation. We like to remind the Ogun State Police Command that this is a democracy and the use of police to harrass students and ordinary Nigerians fighting for their legitimate right will not be tolerated. The ERC shall resist attempts by the Police to arrest, detain or victimise OOU students and their leaders in any way.
The Amosun Government like all APC governments has elevated lying into a statecraft. The impression being deliberately created that students are violent is not true. Some weeks ago, the students protested peacefully to the Governors Office in Abeokuta. The first day of the protest, some hoodlums attacked the students while the police watched. The next day, the police fired tear gas at the students, arrested, slapped and brutalised the Vice President of the Students Union, Seliat Ogunbiyi. It was only when it became clear that the use of violence would not disperse the students that Governor Amosun now came down to discuss with the students. At the end of the parley, the Governor asked for a few days after which he would invite the students leaders to discuss how to resolve the issues. The students promptly dispersed and went back to their campus to await the Governor. If the students were really violent and could cause "breakdown of law and order", would it have been possible for the Governor to meet and parley with them?
The ERC believes that the real threat to the peace of Ogun State is the anti-poor and dictatorial Amosun-led state government whose pro-rich, divisive and cynical policies on education have the capability not only to cause "breakdown of law and order" but also to mortgage the future of the youths.
We hold that the forced closure of the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU) is a direct attack on the democratic rights of the mass of students. We call on the mass of students to remain resolute and dogged inspite of all these attacks. We demand the reversal of the closure of the university and for the the Ibikunle Amosun regime to meet the demands of the mass of students.
We call on the leadership of the Students' union in the university to provide virile leadership to the mass of students by organizing mass meetings of students in main cities such as Abeokuta, Ago Iwoye, Ijebu-Ode and Lagos where the mass of students are concentrated. It is only by this approach that practical activities such as mass occupations and protests can be undertaken. It is equally through this approach that the struggle for the total reversal of the fee hike can be achieved.
The ERC supports the struggle and demands of OOU students. The same way we backed students of the Lagos State University (LASU) to resist and ultimately defeat the Fashola anti-poor government fee hike, we shall support OOU students until the anti-poor and dictatorial Ibikunle Amosun-led government of Ogun State bows to the people's will.
Hassan Taiwo Soweto Michael Ogundele
National Coordinator National Secretary