DEAR SENATE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF LAGOS
For protesting inclement conditions under which they were supposed to be learning, you have essentially hit your students with a vindictive retaliation.
That you see students as adversaries instead of partners is worrisome. Then again, it is a peculiarly Nigerian turn of events, and to that extent, I cannot say I am too surprised. However, it must be said. That a university of higher learning allows itself mirror the failure of leadership and lack of empathy in larger society is disappointing. If ever there was a need for an ivory tower, it is now. The youth of this country are dangerously uneducated in social relations, and a university worthy of the name should be in the forefront of the fight to correct this malaise. It is worrisome that you who have been assigned a task of nurturing of talent for the solution of present and future Nigerian problems are more concerned with avenging a loss of face. It is worrisome that you are contributing to a gathering implosion.
We have studied the composite of documents whose completion you have a prerequisite of allowing your students back in school. And because it appears its forgers have cataracts in their social vision, it appears necessary to ask some questions and clarify some concepts.
“Senate, at its emergency meeting of Friday, April 22, 2016 considered the Report of the Investigative Panel as well as the recommendations from the Committee of Provost and Deans on same and directed that, in view of the violent and disruptive nature of the protest:”
Protests are by definition disruptive. They are an objection to the state of things. I must say I am disappointed that you, a committee of eminently educated men and women, allowed a statement containing that phrase be released on your behalf. The question must be asked then: what kind of education are you overseeing if an understanding of this basic concept of society escapes you?
I do not condone violence, except in exceptional circumstances (such as reactions against slavery and apartheid). Perpetrators of violence during protests should be fished out and be subjected to a trial according to the laws of the land. Everything else — like your retinue of documents for instance — is superfluous.
2. Suspension of the Students’ Union
This is the stock response to crisis involving students. This is because of your paternalistic approach to governance. You are the father, and your word and actions, however objectionable, must be law. This attitude precludes the option of negotiation. After all, isn’t it patently unAfrican for a father to negotiate with his child? You seem to expect a union that proceeds lockstep with you. But unions are pressure groups whose power derives from their base. You must understand that pressure groups that ingratiate themselves to the mainstream are useless as an instrument for deterring untoward behaviour.
That said, I agree with you that there needs to be some level of transformation in the financial and judicial processes of students’ unions. The way to go about it however is not to unilaterally prescribe amendments. Does the government of the day amend the NLC’s processes? It is time to cultivate a culture of responsibility. Students must be front and centre of that process. Such undertakings must be a product of negotiations to reach a position mutually beneficial to both parties.
3. Loopholes as large as the Grand Canyon
“Locking of the University gates or invasion of any facility during any protest is hereby prohibited. Students that violate this regulation shall be expelled forthwith from the University.”
There’s an easy — very easy — way to circumvent this regulation. “Locking gates” and “invading facilities” denote very specific actions. The essence of the actions is to frustrate access, nothing that a well-organized, strategically-placed mass of humans cannot achieve.
4. What is a Re-absorption?
Of what use is a reabsorption where an “unabsorption” has not taken place? Does closing down the school equate a summary expulsion, suspension or rustication of all students? Did closing down the school invalidate their oaths of matriculation? We are all agreed that scholarship requires a thoroughness of thought and process. At first, second and third glances, this oath does not stand on a basis of thoroughness. Fix up guys.
5. The Indemnity Form
This form is ridiculous to the power of 10. First, in my experience, such forms require the citation of its conformity with the laws of the land. Second, how enforceable are the provisions of this ridiculousness? Third, not many educated parents will sign this congress of vagueness.
“I promise to always visit the University of Lagos website to obtain current information about the University and my child/ward.”
What? Are you trying to sell advertising?