While I agree that every year is unique on its own, I tend to agree better that some years are more unique when compared to others. For the University of Ibadan, year 2017 is not just a unique year, but a historic one too. Several memories have been made, unexpected actions have been unleashed, unanticipated incidents have taken place, among others. In essence, for the University of Ibadan and the stakeholders therein, the year 2017 is just like a pack of cards, within which cards of several spices, colours, trademarks, letters, numbers, arts and flavours are loaded. A busy year, one could call it, as a result of the continuous germination of issues in a patterned format (one after the other). But whether one should say this year is a good year to be a Uite or not depends on one’s subjective factors.
However, of all the cards in the 2017 pack, a common card which reoccurred in almost every month in the University of Ibadan is the card of surprises. Our eyes have seen, ears have heard, noses have perceived, and our mouths have said a lot about the rain of surprises which has fallen nonstop in this session. In the article, we shall look into some of these surprises as well as some recent ones which are worthy of our conscious mind and public discussions.
First among the series of surprises is the about three time shift in the academic calendar of the University as a result of the strikes by all the major unions within the University community. The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Non Academic Staff Union (NASU), Nigerian Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) and the Students’ Union (SU) went on strike at a point or the other in a demand for better conditions. While this has been blamed on the poor quality of leadership in the University, nothing seems to have improved, as the University is still swimming in the oceans of protests and strikes.
Notable among the surprising incidents is the suspension of the Students’ Union, which was reinstated by the predecessor of the current Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Isaac Adewole. The “Diamond Declaration of 2017” by the current Vice Chancellor, Prof. Idowu Olayinka led to the closure of undergraduate activities and subsequently, the suspension of the Union. While Uites are optimistic about the reinstatement of the Union, based on facebook comments by the Vice Chancellor, I can only pray, as I often do when reciting our precious national anthem that “may thy labour of our heroes past never be in vain”.
The physical environment of the University has also been hit by this storm of surprises and this is evident in the severe felling of our green leafy brothers in different sections of the University community. The felling of trees came as a surprise to all. Although the school had their arguments for such action, many students have opined that it was a massacre to the University environment.
Also, the poor academic performance recorded by freshmen was a climax in this series of surprises for the year. And as the year ends, those below the crossbar can only hope that this session does not mark the end of their studentship as undergraduates of this institution. It is based on this that I must urge every Uite to take the bull by the horn, to study hard and practice more, and also to shun the harmattan while you read till dawn. It doesn’t matter what level you are or what class you fall, you can always do better.
The winds of surprises also hit the space of public speaking within the University of Ibadan. Lovers of the annual Jaw War competition must have had their mouths open when the two halls of residence which made it to the finals in year 2016, lost at the first round of year 2017. When those who people expected to be the last to fall were those who crashed first, then it could be easily said that this breeze of surprises has blown beyond borders.
In the realm of entertainment, the rallies for the celebration of our ‘weeks’ have been thrilling. The costumes, colours and varieties have been interesting. Some no longer rally during the day, but surprisingly, at night. And our brothers governing the only river within the University of Ibadan have not failed to thrill us with their uniqueness in another style. Well, while all of these lie in the past, some hot surprises are still being served on plates for our consumption. Most important among these current surprises is the content of the internal memorandum which was sent from the Students Affairs Division of the University.
The memorandum which was titled “Students Elections in the Faculties, Departments/Halls of Residence” instructed leaders in any capacity mentioned above to “forward the names of those contesting for any position” in the above mentioned constituencies “to the Deputy Registrar (Students) for screening before any election is conducted”. The memorandum further stated that “this procedure is mandatory. Consequently, any election conducted without following the due process stated above will be null and void and those involved will be duly sanctioned”.
This is indeed surprising and can be interpreted in two ways; It is either the University management believes that we are not fit enough to decide those who shall govern us, or they are only saying that some of those who they boast of as their students are not fit for leadership positions, hence, the need for them to remove the bag eggs to avoid further damage to the system.
However, both interpretations only depict the poor state of the University. If a University cannot confide in its products, if a University is in doubt as per the level of decision making ability of its students, if a University must always interfere in the operations of its students, then, it is a message to the world that we should not be believed in, we should not be trusted with decisions, and we should not be left unchecked. Well, only if we had been trained by people and for the purpose of knowledge and sound judgment, such may not have been the case.
Dear readers, thank you for always reading this column, for the criticisms and the encouragements. This practically marks my final article on this column as the next article (next session) will be written by another conscious minded individual. But till then, it is important that you stay informed, updated and conscious.
See you next year. Till then, Stay Focused, Stay Conscious.