At every point in time in life, it is expedient for a purposeful sojourner to consider the reason for embarking on such a journey. If the essence of such a journey is not adding to the growth of humanity, then it becomes cruel, satanic, inhumane, and callous. The culture of every society defines the type of humans in such a society. Today, while some are regarded to be in the developed and western world, others are regarded to be in an undeveloped and third world just because of their culture! Just recently, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Abuja zonal coordinator, in his press conference intimating Nigerians on the impending national industrial action said (paraphrased) that “a country cannot develop than what its educational sector can offer”. Unfortunately, the educational sector being underfunded still suffers from the intellectual managers of the sector.
If really our society will develop, many things would have to be restructured starting from the educational sector which is in a total mess at the moment. A case study is the issue of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta where the current Vice-Chancellor of the Institution has been dragged to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for misappropriation of the meagre allocation given to the school. Issues like this are not uncommon in institutions across the nation; the Non-Academic Staff Union, Obafemi Awolowo University Chapter, lamented about the how the Institution was ran by the former Vice-Chancellor, Professor Omole. Many instances have been heard about our own citadel of learning too.
The only result of corruption is hopelessness and indescribable hardship over its victims. Thus, the reason for our present state in the country. The country has been so unfortunate over the years in the hands of selfish, cruel, wicked, ill-prepared, clueless and evil administrators. The order of the day is blame game from every party. Just like the Abuja zonal Coordinator of ASUU affirmed that a country cannot develop than its educational exposure, one will hope that the innumerable educational institutions would be the problem-solvers of the nation, rather, they turn up to be another critical problem of the nation on its own. This problem is not limited to their inability to sustain themselves without relying heavily on the government’s allocation, but most unfortunately extends to taming students who tend to be enlightened. It is only darkness that fears the presence of light. One then will wonder why some individuals are always concerned about putting off symbols of light in their environment.
For a mind that knows is a mind that’s free goes the last line in UI’s anthem, while the motto of FASSA states that questions and not answer create knowledge. Why then do the authorities send those who ask questions away? The system is too porous already to be filled with unknowledgeable ones alone. It seems schooling itself has lost its essence in our world. Many are made to be engrossed with their academics that they fail to think of education. No wonder many are stranded after being released from the hectic porous system. Today, almost every informed association of students has been damaged by the powers-that-be. Unions and associations are now nothing but puppets in the hands of the management, deriving their relevance from frivolous social gatherings.
To take the bull by the horn, the first and the best is really the first and the best in this sorry case. Anything that has to do with students’ rights has now become a mirage, thereby giving some individuals the orientation that the word right is a relative term itself. So, one is left to ask if slavery and oppression are not relative in their meaning. We cannot be deceived till eternity, the system we are in is suffering; the sector is struggling from unknown maladies, and no one is complaining. First, we are made to understand that peaceful protest recognized by the Nigerian Constitution is not practicable in our citadel of learning. Any attempt to do such even in the face of death is taken to be criminal, arrogant and an act of indiscipline. An instance is the incessant robbery and rape cases in FUNAAB. What the school management could do was to call on men of the Nigeria Police Force to shoot their own students. Also, the management friendly protests in the University of Ibadan have sent many to their various houses, whereas there are many who steal amidst the students and for times without number, they have been caught and handed over to the campus security outfit, yet nothing is being done to them.
Then the issue of independence of students’ accounts followed. Students who are well over eighteen years of age have been taken to be unthinking minors. Truly, many issues of financial misappropriations have been recorded among students’ leaders at different points in time, but the Yoruba people assert that cutting off the head is never an antidote to headache. If Femi Falana could clearly tell one of the greatest gatherings of the University that students should be allowed to practice unionism without interference from the school authorities, it baffles one how some have been on the neck of their students on the issue of managing their financial account with them. If misappropriations would be fought, then it has to be through putting in place appropriate monitoring and auditing agents, and not through being partakers in students’ deliberations. If university students cannot be trusted with thousands and millions of naira now, they will be bad managers of billions when they become national figures. This is an ivory tower where students should be prepared for the journey of leadership! If this should continue, there would be more corruption cases at the national level, our economy will totally shrink, people will further be barren of ideas, creativity will lose its place and above all, the people will suffer from another round of hardship.
The most unexpected is the issue of barring intellectualism among students. We have been told to always be concerned about the abstract teachings alone and nothing else. Writing about critical issues in Nigerian institutions warrants you losing your studentship. The management is satisfied about wrapping up a pretentious picture of the school than tackling issues raised intellectually squarely. The current frustration being witnessed by Kunle Adebajo is uncalled for and only makes a mockery of what the institution as a whole stands for. It is an ugly occurrence that disturbs a sane mind. If this wonderful, intelligent, award-winning, gentle innocent concerned writer is punished for expressing the mind of thousands of people, then, we should brace up ourselves for the celebration of docility, which is never a virtue!
In conclusion, if our associations cannot be independent, when and where would we have the opportunity to demonstrate our leadership skills?; if our peaceful protests are not tolerated, how do we expect the mainstream politicians to be tolerant?; if intellectual write-ups are interpreted to be abusive, non-management conforming and too exposing, then how do we question authority? How do we become knowledgeable? How do we become thinkers? How do we become activists? And above all, how do we expect our society to develop? Truth be told, if these should continue, our society will never witness any change. Truly, what starts here changes the world! It has now been revealed that everything happening in the world now starts from here.