By James Ogunjimi
Being the text of the press release of the Committee for the defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Olabisi Onabanjo University Unit, distributed in Ago-Iwoye, Ikenne and Sagamu Campuses of the university on Monday April 7, 2014.
“Cowardice asks the question, Is it safe? Expediency asks the question, is it politic? But conscience asks the question, is it right? There comes a time when we must take a decision that is neither safe, politic nor popular but one that conscience tells us is right.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
We are grateful to God for yet another opportunity to issue our press release. Our silence so far has been due largely to challenges being faced in our quest to effectively champion the cause of the oppressed and downtrodden in our great citadel of learning. We are however back and better and poised to effectively & ideologically combat the numerous ills and injustice that has pervaded our school.
STATE OF THE ORGANISATION
The Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), OOU Unit is an organisation that needs no introduction for those who are conversant with what’s going on in campus. CDHR has been in the forefront of defending human rights and challenging every form of human rights abuse; on the part of lecturers, university management, from the police or even between students.
Over the years, we have been on ground to reject all forms of exploitation, call the attention of our students to it, make consultations, and when all forms of consultations have been expended, call out our students to present a united front against oppressive policies of the state government or the university management.
CDHR calls on students not to inculcate the habit of ‘suffering and smiling’ but to bring all forms of injustice and oppression to our notice and they can be sure that we will fight it to a logical and satisfactory conclusion.
STATE OF THE UNION/CAMPUS
It is no longer news that new sets of union leaders have been elected and duly sworn in. We salute the efforts of the security officers for ensuring that the election didn’t witness any casualties.
We also salute the electoral committee for conducting the best election OOU has witnessed so far. We charge the new union executives to ensure that the short time they have is used judiciously. OOUites showed a lot of confidence in them by voting them in and such confidence must be repaid with adequate actions and noticeable developments.
While we commend the union for their quick actions on the ACSODO issue and the sale of pure water price, we say, they can still do more.
Issues that have to do with students’ welfare must be addressed critically, issues of students trekking long distance from their departments to LLT 3 to buy things or make photocopies must also be taken up with the management. A situation where 100 level students have to pay N3500 for GNS with the promise that they will be given handbooks and various materials and yet they don’t get the materials must be challenged and the books must be released.
On the issue of the Medical students, in what is becoming a trademark of the university management, the university management announced that graduating medical students have to pay for two extra sessions that they spent. Nowhere in the world is this kind of thing heard of.
How can you expect students to pay for the extra sessions they spent which were caused by strikes; internal and external? In other climes, the university management will be apologising to the students for the time wasted, but No; OOU management is asking the students to pay for what they did not cause and for the services that were not rendered.
On February 25, 2014, the Speaker of the Ogun State House of Assembly directed that the House Committee on Education and the House Committee on Petition meet with the university management and representatives of the OOU Medical Students’ Association.
The meeting was held the next day and it was decided that the university management should meet with the students’ representatives and find a common ground that will favour both parties. It was also agreed that no student should be victimised and that a report of the meeting should be presented in the next one week.
The meeting was held on March 3rd 2014 which was chaired by the Vice Chancellor himself, and other members of the University Management team were present including the Deputy Vice – Chancellor, Provost of OACHS, Dean of FBMS and the Dean of FCS. The Chairman of the Parents Teachers Forum (Rev. Canon Onajole), Parents and Students were also represented.
It was agreed there that all students that have paid their complete school fees for 6 years do not need to pay any extra fee. It was however agreed that the students should pay N40, 000 developmental levies to assist the university. The management however reneged on the agreement reached at the meeting and announced yet again that the students must pay for the extra two sessions.
Every right-thinking individual will condemn this because it’s the medical students today, if it is allowed to slide, every faculty and department will get its own dose of this bitter pill of extortion and injustice. While we understand the fact that the university management is in dire need of funds to develop the school, we however oppose attempts to squeeze our students dry.
We already pay high fees and will object by all means necessary this added attempt at extorting our students or making them pay for the state government’s inadequacies.
Consultations have been ongoing for sometimes now, but the university management has been very insincere so far. We urge our students to be prepared for any eventuality; in the case that the consultations fail, we will not hesitate to sound the clarion call for us to once again present a unified front to challenge this injustice.
We are giving the university management an ultimatum that if by Thursday, 10th April, 2014, the university management fails to honour the agreement reached at the March 3rd meeting and retract its initial instruction that the money for extra two (2) sessions be paid, CDHR will call on all students and stage series of protests until the students’ needs are met and adequately addressed.
We also call on the Students’ Union to join their voices with ours and to be prepared to champion this cause should the management fail to back down from this anti-student move. When that call sounds, let us be prepared, with the understanding that if we don’t speak up for them, when the school management extends its anti-student policies to us, there’ll be no one to speak up for us.
We also want to maintain that none of the Medical Students involved should be victimised. The Dean should be warned that this is an adult community and as such he should contain his threats and nothing should happen to the President of the Association, Comrade Yemi Adegbesan and other concerned comrades who have been at the forefront of this struggle.
It is also noteworthy to inform the student populace that the academic calendar is at the risk of being disrupted again with yet another ASUU strike. ASUU called off its sit-at-home protest/lecture boycott on March 24 after they got their February salaries.
They however decided that if by April 2nd, they don’t get their salaries; they will embark on yet another strike. Students must call on both the university management and state government to pay these lecturers their salaries so that our time doesn’t get wasted again.
On the issue of accreditation, most of our courses are at the risk of losing accreditation (if they have not lost it already). Infrastructure-wise, OOU still has a long way to go. The state government has refused to release funds for developing the school. In the Faculty of Arts, already, 3 core courses have been denied accreditation.
It does not speak well of our university if courses are being disaccredited and no one is talking. Students, lecturers and seasoned educationists must speak up and prevail on both the university management and state government to correct this anomaly.
Also, a case of our students being taxed vigorously and having to pay so many outrageous fees is not good enough. The fees being paid by our students are high enough without adding the extra fees. Our students are not supposed to bear all the brunt of developing the university.
Before fees that are still considerable can be announced, the university management must consult with the Students Union as they are the representatives of the students and policies that will affect the students must be properly discussed before being announced. The Vice Chancellor must realise that he cannot rule out consultations with the Student Union because this is an adult community.
He must come to terms with the fact that he is the Vice Chancellor of a University; not the headmaster of a primary school or the principal of a secondary school, and as such cannot take all the decisions about students on their behalf without consulting them.
STATE OF THE NATION
CDHR salutes Mohammed Fawehinmi, Femi Kuti and Prof. Wole Soyinka for rejecting the national sham distributed by the federal government. We maintain that it is painful that while scores of innocent lives were wasted in the North, our government was in Abuja dancing and celebrating 100 years of nationhood.
The federal government has been insincere so far in its so-called fight against the Boko Haram sect. We also condemn the arrant disregard for education being shown by the Ogun State government. Since Governor Amosun was sworn in, there has been no useful contribution to the development of tertiary institutions by him, which has led to the managements squeezing the innocent students dry with various outrageous fees.
Also, the hike in LASU fees is a pointer to the fact that the government is determined to put education above the reach of the common man. We join our voice with those of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC), Joint Action Front (JAF), and that of the Save LASU Campaign to demand a downward review of the fees.
· We call on the state government to release funds to manage the school effectively.
· The school management must refund the amount the last graduates paid for gowns.
· We reject the payment of extra fees in the school as our students cannot be extorted.
· The state government must pay the salaries of the lecturers to avoid a break in the academic calendar.
· The school must honour the agreement it reached with the Medical students on March 3rd.
· The OOU Vice Chancellor must embrace dialogue with students and carry the union along in his actions.
· The university management must honour the agreements reached at the March 3rd meeting of face multiple protests.
· No student involved in the Medical students’ struggle must be victimised.
Remember, if we struggle, we may win, but if we don’t, we are losers already
Aluta Continua! Victoria Ascerta!!
Shun Cultism! Shun indecent dressing! Shun Examination Malpractices!
CDHR OOU holds its meeting every Friday by 2:30pm at the back of LT in mini campus. Join CDHR today to know your rights and fight for them. Registration is free and open to all.