For a Public Probe into the Activities of ABUAD
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) calls for the unconditional release of 31 students arrested on account of the February 7, 2016 protest that occurred at the Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD). ABUAD is a private university established by the legal luminary, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN).
We call for a public probe into the activities of the institution especially going by various allegations of highhandedness and victimization on the part of the administration. This call becomes important because ABUAD is a seriously autocratic institution lacking any respect for democratic rights and having an administration that routinely employs rogue methods characteristic of corporate mafia to cover up the truth, whip students and workers into line and silence critics.
The ERC feels strongly that the February 7 protest is not merely a demonstration of a few disgruntled students “with poor academic performance” as the University would have us believe. Rather it is a product of students’ pent-up rage and frustration as a result of the various anti-student policies of the institution’s management.
While we do not condone violence, the ERC feels that the allegation that students destroyed university properties raises the need for ABUAD to allow for independent Students Unionism through which students can convey their opinion and displeasure to the administration without resulting to violence.
However in spite of the fact that the ABUAD’s founder, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) is a respected legal luminary, his private University does not allow Students Unionism to operate in clear violation of the provisions of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended).
The crisis in ABUAD proves the failure of private Universities as a solution to the crisis of tertiary education. Not only are these private institutions established solely for profit, they are run in such a shady and undemocratic manner that they are unable to truly serve the interest of the public neither are they accountable to anyone except the founder. If the truth must be told, the way ABUAD is being managed is not in any way different from a farm estate where the founder, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), is the lord of the manor and students are the farm hands who must be diligent, loyal and obey all rules even if those rules are nonsensical. Dissent opinions, when expressed, are routinely clamped upon so viciously like a wild lion charging a stray goat.
We recall for instance last year that the University suddenly hiked the fees of its Clinical students (400 Level medical students) from the already whopping sum of N1.7 million to a stupefying sum of N2.6 million. When the students attempted to protest through social media and also contacted radical groups like the Education Rights Campaign (ERC), the University immediately swung into action by clamping down on them with reports, though unverified, that some were victimized in the process. The result was that the agitation for reversal of the hiked fee stopped while the online campaign disappeared.
Only public-funded and democratically-managed academic institutions can guarantee quality education that can be of benefit to the people and not a rich few while also respecting democratic rights and dissenting views.
Hassan Taiwo Soweto Michael Ogundele
National Coordinator (07033697259) National Secretary