AND OTHER ANTI-STUDENTS’ POLICIES
UNILAG authorities’ actions are draconian and despotic
The decision of the Senate of the University of Lagos to dissolve the executive and legislative arms of the University of Lagos Students’ Union (ULSU) for leading students’ protests against poor welfare conditions and high cost of goods and services of campus is draconian and despotic.
This decision is an assault on the freedom of association and other democratic rights. That the University of Lagos is dissolving ULSU less than 2 years after it was restored following over one decade of proscription is a sign that intolerance has continued to rule the hearts and minds of members of the University management.
The ERC hereby demands the immediate restoration of Students Union activities and a halt to every other attack on the democratic rights of students.
We also condemn the decision to make all students and their parents sign undertaking and indemnity forms which are meant to frighten students from ever daring to fight for their rights. On the undertaking form, there is what is called a “re-absorption oath” which students must sign and get notarized as preconditions for admittance into halls of residence and examination venues. Through the Parents indemnity form, parents and guardians are to be held liable for whatever supposed misdemeanor is committed by their students. We demand an immediate reversal of these draconian measures.
Meanwhile, all of these crude measures only go to show how lawless the University is. For instance, the word “re-absorption” is unknown to University laws. A student resumes into a University after an holiday or a break. If a student was expelled or rusticated, after careful consideration of his/her appeals by the Senate, he or she could be reinstated. Nor is there anything called a “re-absorption oath” in the University system. All undergraduate and postgraduate students of Universities and other tertiary institutions are required to swear upon admission is a matriculation oath. After this, there is no other oath that students are required to swear in the course of their academic programmes.
All what the university is doing is simply to manufacture all kinds of quasi-legal measures to keep students enslaved and unable to defend themselves against the university’s anti-poor polices. Such draconian clampdown on freedom of expression was the hallmark of military despotism in Nigeria. They have failed before and will fail again.
We call on staff unions in the University to oppose all of the draconian measures being taken by the University to clampdown on students. Otherwise, once the University authorities are through with students, it would soon pounce on staff unions. Indeed all UNILAG alumni and Nigerians who cherish freedom and democratic rights must rise up to condemn these despotic decisions.
Instead of clamping down on students, we call on the University to address the legitimate demands of the students.
Lest we forget, these issues which caused the students’ protest of the 6th and 7th April 2016 were the extremely difficult conditions of learning to which students were subjected as a result of poor electricity and water supply, academic injustice ranging and high cost of goods and services which has earned UNILAG the toga of the most expensive campus in terms of cost of living. Indeed these are issues for which members of the Prof. Rahamon Bello-led management of the University of Lagos should be investigated for dereliction of duty and incompetence.
But the University of Lagos is a University that has absolutely no regard for its students. Rather than respect for divergent views and due process, impunity, exploitation and oppression are the hallmarks of the University. Recall how a couple of months ago the same University arbitrarily denied over 100 pre-medical students from proceeding to the College of Medicine. Now without making any attempt to address students’ demands, the management has declared open the University and fixed commencement of examinations for the 9th of May, 2016. Up till now, questions raised by students during the protests as to the whereabouts of the additional two diesel-powered generators remain unanswered. Instead, the University says on its website that it could only “endeavor to provide electricity in the various halls of residence between the hours of 7.00 pm and 7.00 am daily. The boreholes in the hostels would continue to provide water supply to the hostels until normal supply from the Lagos State Water Corporation resumes”.
This means students will have to write examinations under conditions unfit for learning. This is a recipe for mass failure. We charge the institution’s Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other staff unions not to allow a situation where students are coerced to write examinations in conditions that will definitely cause mass failure.
This is the time for the unions to come together in solidarity with students by organizing actions like strikes and protest to demand that basic municipal services are functioning adequately and for the dissolution of ULSU and other undemocratic attacks to be reversed.
Hassan Taiwo Soweto Michael OgundeleNational Coordinator (07033697259) National Secretary