It was a sunny morning, at about 11am when I was in our office with three other colleagues. We were all buried in our individual but common thought which was centered on how and where we got it wrong. The struggle had taken a shocking and unexpected turn and we were all doing what one could call an analysis of what had just happened. However, while I and my colleagues were engrossed in our different thoughts, our minds were suddenly diverted to the footsteps approaching our office. Two things were evident, the footsteps showed that more than two people were coming and from the way they banged their feet, it was obvious that they were men. Knock! Knock!! We opened the door, hoping what we had imagined were mere illusions, but unfortunately they were real. Right in front of the door were four grown men with chains in their hands. The oldest among them (whom I later realized was the Chief Security Officer of the University) commanded that we vacate the building immediately for it was to be placed under lock. “Sir, this is the office of the Union of Campus Journalists, University of Ibadan”, one of us had said. But all to no avail, we were sent out, likewise others in the building and the Union building was placed under heavy locks, while the stairs were barricaded. Till date, neither students’ leaders nor other students who belong to organizations whose office or secretariat is located in the Students’ Union Building (SUB) has been able to gain access to any document or valuable item in their various offices.
Like a child whose precious stick sweet has just been snatched from him, we (I and a senior colleague in the Press) proceeded to the Vice Chancellor’s office to report what we considered too sudden and unjust. We were informed by the Secretary that the VC was not in office, thus, we were asked to check back. After we waited for a while at Love Garden, hoping to see the VC, we returned to his office and were informed that he was not back yet. So we decided to call him and report what had just happened.
After several attempts, he responded to the call and after my partner explained the state of things to him, the Vice Chancellor responded that we were not supposed to be on campus. We tried to explain that UCJ was not an organization for undergraduates alone, but no, we were not given the chance to speak before the call ended. Well, we have returned to school for several months now and UCJ, ANUNSA, JCI, AISEC, and other students organizations whose offices are located in the Kunle Adepeju Building are yet to have access to their various offices, simply because the Students’ Union has been suspended.
This article is aimed at neither discussing the rightness or wrongness of the actions which led to the suspension of the Union nor at analyzing who is to be blamed for our current condition. This piece of art is centered on raising our consciousness on the effects which the closure of the building have on the effectiveness of Students’ organizations on campus. The SUB houses nothing less than six active students organizations whose activities are felt by the students and the Society at large. Some of these organizations have made impacts in the areas of sanitation of the University community, some have promoted the good conduct of students through the advocacy of adherence to rules and regulations and some have donated in several ways (materially) to the University.
Some organisations have improved the lives of students and staff through information dissemination and shaping of opinions for better decision making, while some have served as a platform for students to garner international opportunities and experiences. In essence, students’ organizations in the University of Ibadan have contributed significantly to the achievement of the mission and vision statements of the institution. However, with the building under lock, it appears that the University management does not mind whether or not these organisations exist, whether or not they add value to the lives of students and staff, and whether or not they contribute towards achieving the mission and vision statements of the University of Ibadan.
Truth be told, just as humans are different in terms of adapting to situations, some organizations can easily adapt to the current condition, while others cannot. The activities of these organisations necessitate the gathering of members coming together from time to time, to plan, strategize, brainstorm, and ensure proper implementation of projects. But the absence of an official point of convergence to aid such activities will surely result in a backdrop in terms of effectiveness of these organisations. The absence of the Union should not mean the halt of other students’ organisations and if the University Management fails the remove these chains, one can only conclude that the University Management have decided to tick the box of absence not only against the Union but other students’ organization, in the attendance of operations and existence.
Since we are in the second semester, it is expected that activities and other programmes shall take place. But the benefit students enjoy by paying a student-friendly price while using as venues for their activities, the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) chambers and the Students’ Union (SU) conference room can no longer be tapped. A world-class University should give room for students’ organizations to thrive, to encourage students to work together while contributing to the development of the institution and to ensure that the bounds of knowledge acquired are not restricted to the classrooms but to other students’ organization. If the University truly aims at becoming a world class institution, then it important that the University Management kindly remove these chains!!!
Till next week, stay focused stay conscious.