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To blacklist students is not only a witch-hunt aimed at preventing activists from holding union offices but also a calculated scheme to weaken the OAU students’ union and establish it under the direct manipulation of the university administration

Recently, the Obafemi Awolowo University management, through the Division of Students Affairs, sent a blacklist to the electoral commission and expressly ordered that those whose names are on the list must not be allowed to vote, be voted for, or act as agents in the forthcoming union elections. Five students are affected by this vicious list, and the only offence they have committed is their participation in the genuine struggles of students for unbanning of their union. For OAU administration, dissenting opinions over unlawful proscription is not allowed, and hence criminal. For us in the DSM, this blacklist is only a witch-hunt aimed at preventing student activists from holding union offices. It is also a calculated scheme to weaken the OAU students’ union and establish it under the direct manipulation of the university administration. We condemn this undemocratic, unlawful and vicious interference of OAU management in the internal affairs of a students’ union. We call for the conduct of elections in line with the provisions of the union constitution and decisions of the congress of students.

First, that OAU administration is establishing this disenfranchisement through a kangaroo indictment is unintellectual. In the opinion of the administration, indictment is not to make a formal accusation against someone, but to presume that the alleged is guilty before the charges are substantiated. This is the height of intellectual contradiction in an institution of learning, where regards for democratic laws and dissenting views should have been entrenched. However, we in the DSM are not surprised that the OAU management is wielding another instrument of jackboot absolutism to prevent questions and checks on its oppressive activities.

This was the same management that constructed a N500 million swimming pool when the university water supply system remains unclean and diseased, amid wide condemnation. Prevention of student activists, who have boldly condemned such impropriety of spending and policies, from holding union offices is meant to further sustain arbitrary and corrupt policies of the university administration. This will also ensure that the union itself is tied to the apron string of the university management, while the right to protest obnoxious policies of the university administration will be criminalized.

For us in the DSM, a union that cannot advance the interests of its members is irresponsible. And this is the reason why the affairs of such a union should be determined by members of the union, and not forced down its throat by a self-serving university authority. The OAU students’ union has a constitution which has articulated procedures for election, and a legislative organ which is the congress. Hence the right of members to vote or to be voted for is a subject for determination by the students, and not the university administration. If Nigerians do not condemn and resist this arbitrary imposition, then the OAU management – and other university managements – will see student unionism as a system of secondary school prefecture. This fact is observable in the current National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), whose leaders have turned into cronies and sycophants of corrupt politicians. While Ife student unionism still jealously guides the philosophy of students as an instrument against oppression and anti-people policies, the current effort of the university administration threatens the further existence of this tradition.

The DSM calls on peace-loving Nigerians, alumni of OAU and ex-students’ leaders to call the OAU administration to order and stop its excessive interference in the forthcoming students’ union elections. Witch-hunting students for taking dissenting opinion over an unlawful proscription of the union is inimical to intellectual growth and damaging to the future of Nigeria.

We call for protest messages and petitions to the university management.

You can send your messages to the management of OAU through these lines: Vice-Chancellor: 08037211502; Dean, Students’ Affairs: 08037271817; Vice Dean, Student Affairs: 08066066540; Registrar: 046-550180; V.C’s email: [email][email protected]

Adabale Olamide
General Secretary