A Reply to the Vice Chancellor Rogers
The need for clarification on what has been happening at the OAU (Ife, Nigeria) is very urgent considering the level of propaganda and outright lies and distortions that the authorities have been churning out to the international community. Below we are publishing a reply from the students involved in the struggle. We are also publishing the text of a letter sent out by the Vice Chancellor of the OAU, in which he makes a series of very serious allegations. Judge for yourselves!
On the allegations
We will deal first with the allegations raised by the Vice Chancellor, Rogers (made in his letter). These kinds of allegations he has been making have always been part of their modus operandi in the past. Rogers is just trying to renew this old and tested method. The students and workers of the world who have been supporting our cause need to know the truth.
There were no acts of violence during the picketing. It was peaceful and nobody was beaten. However copies of some documents of the university were taken – those that were considered useful in the campaign to defend the students against these draconian increases in fees. The Vice Chancellor claims that the increases are reasonable, when in fact they are huge and represent a heavy burden on most ordinary students.
No documents were taken from the freshers as is falsely claimed by the authorities. No parents or lecturers were beaten. All the accusations about violence, etc., have been concocted by the university authorities. They are a figment of their own imagination, and are simply being used to smear the students who are leading this movement.
We also need to answer the argument about who has the authority to rescind decisions about fees. The argument that only the Governing Council can review the fees hike was rejected by the student union because it was seen for what it was at that time: a diversion on the part of the VC to avoid the battle. The student union was fully aware of this. It was also aware of the fact that the VC has the powers to review the decision on the fees and to reverse it.
The key question was not who did or did not have these powers. It was a question of the balance of forces on the ground between the students and the university authorities. These unfortunately were not to the advantage of the student movement due to the 11 months closure of the campus. This was as a result of the university workers' strike, which the authorities had been trying to break for some time.
The "individual" that the VC refers to in his letter is Isiaka Adegbile because this student successfully held the faculty to a standstill by addressing the freshers for almost 30 minutes until the student union President and other students were able to come and talk to the students. After speaking, the student leaders moved out leaving the VC and his team in the room with all the students singing and chanting anti fees songs. Maybe they interpret this as "intimidation" and "violence"!
Threat to have one of the students arrested!
Another omission in this whole case is that concerning Isiaka Adegibile. His name does not appear officially on the list of suspended students. This does not mean that he has not been victimized. The Vice Chancellor gave Isiaka a verbal declaration that since he had withdrawn his case from court that technically that meant he was no longer a student. Thus the Vice Chancellor did not add his name to the list of suspended students. After publishing the names of Akin and three others he wrote to the department of Isiaka Adegbile to find out about his status and demanded a photocopy of his last course form to know the courses that he had registered for last session. The head of department (HOD) of Political Science confirmed Adegbile's studentship but the VC decided to ignore this and kept his name off the official list.
However, Adegbile made an attempt to register in his department on Monday. Upon doing so he was asked by his HOD about what was going on, adding that there were so many letters coming from the authorities on his case. They had just "discovered" that he had registered for part two courses. Adegibile in fact has done his final year courses and now what remains is for him to finish his project and one final course he is hoping to round up if possible by the end of this semester. Upon hearing this the HOD told Adegbile that he should go ahead and register.
Thus on the same day Adegbile went to the dean of student affairs to submit his letter of appeal for final restoration of his position as a registered student. However this was rejected by the dean who claimed that Adegbile was no longer a student of the university. He added that the police had been informed about this and that he should be arrested.
After a thorough discussion the content of Adegbile's letter of appeal was read by the deputy of the dean, but it was rejected as they claimed that Adegbile had come to mock the authorities with the tone of his letter and that he should rewrite it and give them time to consult their lawyers on the legal implications.
Obviously they are confused on whether to suspend Adegbile officially like the others or to use the technical-cum-legal angle. That explains why in Rogers' reply there are only four names listed. What they are trying to do is to surreptitiously remove Adegbile without having to admit publicly that that is what they are doing.
On the International Solidarity Campaign
The International Solidarity Campaign, publicised on the In Defence of Marxism web site has been brought to the attention of the students during meetings of the student congress by Akin, the student union president. On Thursday (today, June 19) a student parliament is to be held and the plan is to print out and make available all the messages of protest that have been coming in from around the world. We must say that this campaign has helped to boost the morale of those students involved in the struggle and you should definitely keep up the pressure.
Send your messages of protest to Prof. R. O. A. Makanjuola at email@example.com and also send a copy to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can get copies directly to the students who are involved in this struggle.
June 19, 2003.
The reply to one protest letter from the
Vice Chancellor of OAU, Prof. R. O. A. Makanjuola
Prof. R. O. A. Makanjuola, the Vice Chancellor has been receiving a lot of protest letters about the victimization of the student union leaders at the OAU. Below is his reply to one protest letter.
--- Original Message ---
From: "Prof. R. O. A. Makanjuola" <email@example.com>
Sent: Monday, June 16, 2003 4:23 PM
Subject: Re: Stop the repression of OUA-Ife students!
It is always better to hear the other side of the story before passing judgment. Please find below, a release by the Registrar on the matter. A breakdown of the charges is also provided below.
Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria,
Office of the Registrar,
Special Release 9th June, 2003
Disruption of the resumption of the university for the 2002/2003 academic session
The Obafemi Awolowo University was to have resumed for the 2002/2003 Academic Session on September 23, 2002. However, a protracted industrial action prevented this, and resulted in a protracted closure of the Institution. At its meeting held on 2nd May, 2003, Senate directed that academic activities should resume in the University immediately. It also approved the resumption for the 2002/2003 Academic Session on May 19, 2003.
After such a prolonged closure, it was expected that every member of the University, staff and students alike, would have enthusiastically done everything possible to ensure a smooth resumption. However, a group of individuals, led by some executive members of the Students' Union, have gone out of their way to cause sever disruption.
When it learnt of a plan to disrupt the University's resumption over opposition to the modest charges that were recently introduced on the directive of the Governing Council, the University Administration arranged a meeting with the Executive of the Students' Union on Thursday, May 22, 2003.
The arrangements for the resumption of the 2002/2003 Session were discussed, as well as various welfare issues. The student leaders expressed their opposition to the new charges. It was explained to them that a review of the matter could only be made by the Governing Council. They were warned of the consequences of attempting to disrupt the resumption of academic activities.
On Monday, May 26 and Tuesday, May 27, a group of individuals, led by the Students Union President, Mr.Akinkunmi OLAWOYIN, and some other student leaders, went on a rampage. They went from Faculty to Faculty, violently disrupting the screening exercise. Violence, threats and intimidation were perpetrated against staff, the fresh students and their parents. A Faculty Dean was struck by one of the mob. A Professor was also physically assaulted and a Faculty Secretary required medical attention after she was assaulted. The mob stole official University documents relating to the screening exercise as well as the personal documents of some of the fresh students. In the most serious incident, one individual violently confronted the Dean of the Faculty of Administration. He threatened staff and students alike and ended up by flinging desks and chairs around the room where screening was taking place. The students and their parents fled in fear.
Following this, more of the rampaging individuals appeared, led by the President of the Students Union, and violently confronted members of the academic and administrative staff, including the Vice-Chancellor.
On Tuesday, May 27, in a number of Faculties, the rampaging individuals padlocked the gates, locking the occupants in. In the early afternoon, the mob hijacked a University Transport Ventures bus, seriously injuring the driver in the process. They drove to town and collected a large quantity of used tyres, which they brought into the Campus. Information was received that they intended to set up bonfire barricades throughout the University the next day.
It became clear that urgent action was required to secure lives and property in the face of a rapidly deteriorating situation. The assistance of the Nigeria Police Force was therefore sought, and a contingent of the Police Mobile Force came into the Campus. Thereafter, peace and stability were restored, and the screening and registration exercises have continued since then.
The following students, who had perpetrated incidents of gross misconduct in
the presence of the Vice-Chancellor, were suspended for one session each with
Mr.Akinkunmi OLAWOYIN, Mr. Ekundayo FADUGBA, Mr.Hassan ABASS, Mr. Olugbenga ADEWALE.
It should be noted that, apart from some students of the Obafemi Awolowo University, the mob has comprised of students from other universities as well as non-students. Those identified from other Universities are being reported to their respective Vice-Chancellors.
The University Administration met with representatives of the students, at the request of the students. At the request of the students, observers form the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), the Non-Academic staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU), University Joint Christian Movement (UJCM) and the Muslim Students' Society of Nigeria (MSSN) were present.
The students raised two issues - the new charges and the suspension of their 4 leaders. The University Administration explained that it had tried repeatedly to discuss the issue of the charges with the Students' Union for over 3 years - on each occasion the students had bluntly stated that they rejected any increase in fees or any new charges and had refused to discuss the issue further. The Administration explained further that the charges had been introduced on the directive of the Governing Council, on the advice of the University Senate, and the University Administration did not have the power to amend such decisions. They were advised that they could forward their request to the Council.
The University Administration also explained, in detail, the events leading up to the suspension of the 4 student leaders. The University is giving priority to providing assistance to students who are genuinely in financial distress. The Division of Student Affairs is to work with the Students' Union on the issues. A work-study programme is already under limited operation; this is to be expanded.
The University Administration is determined to maintain law and order and ensure the successful resumption of academic activities in the University. The new charges have already been implemented. The majority of students, including the returning undergraduates, have already paid the charges. The Police presence will be maintained for as long as is considered necessary. Information has been received that some students may attempt further violent disruption; they are hereby strongly advised not to do so. All other students are advised to keep well away from such actions, should the minority of students that appear bent on doing further harm to this University not heed our advice.
B.O. Iluyomade (Mrs.)
June 9, 2003
The recently introduced charges and increases are as follows:
Accommodation - N2,590 (US$19) per session (optional, for those requiringaccommodation)
Sports levy - N1,000 (US$7.50) per session
Examinations - N1,000 (US$7.50) per session
Fresh (new) students pay an additional N5,450 (US$40) for admission procedures (medical tests, registration, matriculation etc).