Dear Great Ife,
“The times are changing and we must change with them”- Kwame Nkrumah
I write this inspired more by a desire to write to the future than to think of the past. Hence, I expect portions of it to be disagreeable especially by those attached to history and methods.
I remain one of the few students chanced to have experienced two Union leaderships. Most have experienced none and those in their Part 4 have seen only the misadventure of the Oyekan Ibukun regime.
I must break the ice on writing Union articles because I have quit it for so long. I have brought myself to type this as I am absorbed in newer scopes and directions to which my life is lately attracted.
I have found peace in silence but now I crave to speak. While at this, I shall try to say little for I belong to a generation that detests length.
The Union has been suspended for two years and more for very good reasons(you heard me right. Good reasons). The period of its suspension has awoken new insight in me to understand that by the actions of that last horrible administration, students sold themselves out by voting incompetence and a now undisguised failed administration which was indicted further by the VC in his last press release where the VC admitted that before he could stop them, they cleaned the Union account.
As at the time of suspension of the Union, the management had enough reasons to do so ranging from corruption to disorderly student conduct. As empowered by the University Act and other relevant legislation, a Vice-Chancellor can proceed to suspend using the reason of impropriety.
Prof. Ogunbodede was presented that reason on a platter of gold. He did what any Vice Chancellor would have done at that period. The name of the school was recurrent in newspapers and it was too much of an eyesore. Let’s not argue on this please. Every week brought an headline.
However, what the Vice Chancellor could have done better was to recognize that the actions emanated from a corrupt leadership and the attempt of sincere students to stem the tide of the corruption.
Severally, we warned of rising trends of cultism and we were proven correct when the school suspended 12 in the next session. If the Ogunbodede administration identified these students who stood for truth and worked with them, it would have prevented the dive into ugliness that OAU later took. Radicals are not always enemies. Sometimes, they are very passionate people who only need to be guided.
As it stands, the reinstatement of the Union is desirable but urgent need must be made to avoid the pitfalls of the past.
We now live in a world that has changed and we must change with the times or we perish. We can’t be who we want to be if we remain who we used to be.
The Union has a strong history of radicalism but what should guide the Union now is not this radical history alone but also the need of the Times.
In the past, Union leaderships fought tyrannical undemocratic governments and military rule. Our age, we are confronted with a different question and we cannot repeat methods.
Union leaders must try as much as possible to avoid being made into errors by attempting to be superheroes. There are no superheroes.
The purpose of a Union needs to be slightly redefined to make her more open to progressive actions such as organizing impactful conference and seminar inviting the relevants in the society and former union leaders of distinction and repute to give adminitions and guidance.
We have a rich history and nothing stops the Union from having yearly events in honor of notable people. They include politicians, academics, activists, professionals who are alumni and can have an event around them. We can organise events such as June 12 symposiums or October 1, May 29 and other relevant days to be marked alongside traditional July 10.
The Union should become open to organizing even national debates inviting leaders including political ones who make decisions to speak to students and they should be received with decorum. This will fertilize ideas. Chasing people from government territory is barbarous. I regret if I have even been involved in that. Everyone deserves audience if invited by the school or anyone. There may be unwelcome exceptions someday. Wisdom should guide to distinguish.
The Union should look towards cultural events, social events and development of students in all areas including academic. Keeping itself busy with this.
Of course, there may be need for rifts with the management. But there has never existed a conflict that sincere dialogue on both ends can not resolve.
If for instance the light is withdrawn. The cause can be known and the duration of repair circulated to students by the Union without a need for display of force. The same holds for water. Usually, it is these facilities that cause concern and the duration for repair should be made as fast as possible only and then circulated to make students aware.
There is really no need for confrontational action on these issues. Those who disagree with me are free to do so. I am talking as one unlikely to contest an election again so be sure I am saying what is true and correct.
The only issue that necessitates confrontation is a national matter or fee hike. Even in these instances, total exhaustion of the discussion is necessary. I have held some of these views for long and not all are new.
I suspect I have been too absorbed in the works of Mahatama Gandhi, Luther, Nkrumah and Lee Kwan Yhu that I have begun to lose my revolutionary fervor. Those men earlier listed preached non-aggression and I have found insight in their teachings.
The Accommodation policy and other issues continue to bite the back of students. I believe the school management should increase her efforts. Security also needs to be increased.
The times have changed. The world today does not wait. Those who seek to hold on to the past will be left alone.
As it stands, the reinstatement of the Union is at the behest of the Vice Chancellor. He gave his reasons as the lack of worthy leadership. We need to reply that he should make worthy leaders if he thinks there are none. If students are brought to the institution and the Vice Chancellor does not see a worthy leader. He needs to make them out of those brought to him. It is still his work as in locu parentis.
Former Parliamentarian Great Ife Students’ Union,
Former Member, Budgetary and Finance Commission,
Winner 2018 Best Campus Writer OAU Awards.