The Senate, University of Ibadan, UI has suspended activities of the Students’ Union Executive Council (SUEC) and the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) of the University.
There was an Emergency Meeting of the University Senate on Tuesday, 30 May, 2017 in the Senate Chamber where all matters relating to the students’ protest of Monday, 29 May, 2017 led by the President of the Students’ Union Executive Council, Mr. Aderemi Ojo, which disrupted public peace were exhaustively discussed.
University of Ibadan, UI Senate Suspend Activities of Students’ Union and SRC
The Vice-Chancellor briefed Senate on the background to the recent students’ crisis.
Background to the Current Crisis
The Students’ Union Executive and the Students’ Representative Council for the 2016/2017 Session were sworn in at Trenchard Hall on Monday, 8 May, 2017. In delivering his Acceptance Speech, the new President left no one in doubt of his agenda viz-a-viz confrontation with the University Management. In particular, he said inter alia:
Also, our ladies are being denied of their right to use electrical appliances (hotplates) in their halls of residence. *Chapter 6 of the Student Information Handbook under the heading ‘’Electrical Appliances’’ Paragraph (i) acknowledged the use of electrical appliances in the kitchenettes. As from today, ladies, go to your halls of residence and use electrical appliances (hotplates) in the kitchenettes. If anyone stops you, report to the Union, we promise to be responsive to salient issues.
A ‘Congress’ was convened by the leadership of the Students’ Union without seeking permission of the Dean of Students’ Affairs on Saturday, 27 May, 2017, at the Students’ Union Building. The resolutions at the ‘Congress’ were as follows:
(a). That two days ultimatum be given to the University Management to constitute the Students’ Welfare Board.
(b). That fact finding committee be set up to look into the issue of the use of hot plates in Halls of Residence
(c). That ‘No ID Card, no Examination’
(d). That the scheduled programme of Oyo State Government at the International Conference centre (ICC) to be chaired by the Governor of Oyo State, Senator Isiaka Abiola Ajimobi, be disrupted.
(e). That the Sango/UI/Ojoo highway be occupied and blocked.
(f). That all Faculties, Lecture Rooms and the Centre for General Studies be locked.
Management has tried to explain to students the challenges with delay in production of their Smart Identity Cards. The new chip-based smart ID card has multiple functionality as it can be used for identification, access control, attendance system, library facility usage, login access to computers, payment for services, e-learning and medical information storage.
The Management met with leadership of the students union on Sunday 28 May 2017. An appeal was made by the Management that the students should give peace a chance.
On Monday, 29 May 2017, a group of students led by Ojo Aderemi, President Students’ Union, went round the Halls of Residence and Faculties to mobilise students for demonstration. Meanwhile, there were reports from the Campus Security Service that the demonstrating students led by their President, Ojo Aderemi, broke the glass door of the office of Dr Ojuawo of the Department of Physics, Faculty of Science. The Lecturer who was in the office at the time of the incident also alleged that he was harassed by the demonstrating students.
The demonstrating team eventually took off from the Students’ Union Building at about 10.00 hours and went straight to the Main Gate of the University and then blocked the Ojoo-UI-Oyo Road. A free flow of traffic was totally grounded. Commercial activities in the area were also grounded. The Oyo State Commissioner of Police arrived the scene and took time to plead with the students to vacate the highway but the students refused to yield.
There was a real threat to live and property and possible hijack by hoodlums and other miscreants from the neighbouring Agbowo community.
While the protest was going on, the Vice-Chancellor tried to monitor the situation. He got in touch on phone with the Commissioner of Police. The Commissioner informed the Vice-Chancellor that the students insisted that the Vice-Chancellor should come to the scene of their protest at UI Gate/Agbowo to address them as the only condition to reconsider their blockade of the highway.
Meanwhile, tension was mounting and the students refused to return to the Campus before the Vice-Chancellor could come to address them. The Vice-Chancellor then considered it expedient to go to the University Community Radio Station (Diamond FM) to, on behalf of the Senate, announce postponement of the First Semester Examinations for Undergraduate students. Moreover, that students resident in the Halls of Residence should vacate their halls not later than 6.00 pm later that day. He went further to announce that Postgraduate students would continue with their lectures.
Senate noted among others:
(1) That the unruly behaviour and confrontational attitude of the President of the Students’ Union, Aderemi Ojo, starting from his acceptance speech at his swearing-in ceremony on Monday, 8 May, 2017 where he issued out orders to students not to obey extant university rules was unacceptable and a violation of his Matriculation Oath moreso given that degrees of the University of Ibadan are awarded in character and learning. It is to be pointed out that the ceremony was presided over by the Vice-Chancellor with all the other Principal Officers, Dean of Students, the Deputy Dean of Students and other top university officials present;
(2) That the leadership of the various students’ bodies in the University believe, rather erroneously, that they are not under authority and any decision they take is final.
(3) That the said protest was taken to Ojoo/Agbowo/UI/ Sango Federal Highway, despite pleas from various stakeholders with the President of the Students’ Union Executive Council to allow the protest be restricted to within the campus;
(4) That there was an earlier engagement of the leadership of the Students’ Union by the Office of the Dean of Students to the effect that demand for the use hotplates and other cooking appliances could not be granted as the prohibition of these devices are contained in the tenancy agreement the students signed in their various Halls of Residence, noting the fire risks and huge electricity bill incurred;
(5) That the delay in the issuance of the identity cards was caused by the University’s strict adherence with the provisions of the Public Procurement Act and that the Vice-Chancellor used every opportunity to explain to the President of the Students’ Union Executive Council and his Council that for the First Semester Examinations of the 2016/2017 Academic Session, the Course Registration Forms which carry their photographs would be used for admittance into the Examination Rooms/Halls pending the time the new cards would be produced and given to them;
(6) That the new identity cards to be produced would be valid for the entire period of study of each student and would only be revalidated each session as different from the previous ones requiring students to apply for new identity cards every session. Furthermore, the new identity card is multi-functional which could be used for self-identification, examination purpose and without separately registering in each of the following units: Kenneth Dike Library, University Health Centre, Faculty Library, Departmental Library, etc;
(7) That Expanded Management of the University including the Principal Officers, Provost of the College of Medicine, Deans of Faculties, of The Postgraduate School, of Students, Internal Members of the University’s Governing Council and other leaders of the institution met with the leadership of the Students’ Union on Sunday, 28 May, 2017from 4.00pm to 7.00pm;
(8) That the meeting was convened to urgently address the resolutions of the ‘Congress’ of the Students’ Union which decided to disrupt the First Semester Examinations of 2016/2017 billed to commence on Monday, 29 May, 2017 if students were not provided with identity cards, that the University should constitute the Students’ Welfare Board and that the University should allow the use of prohibited cooking appliances in the Halls of Residence;
(9) That the ‘Congress’ convened by the leadership of the Students’ Union and the Students’ Representative Council on Saturday, 27 May 2017 did not follow the laid down procedure for calling a congress;
(10) That the Vice-Chancellor, acting ‘in loco parentis’, met with the President of the Students’ Union Executive from about midnight of Sunday, 28 May till about 2,00 am in the morning of Monday, 29 May, 2017 pleading with him to allow wise counsel to prevail;
(11) That the Commissioner of Police, Oyo State Command, CP Abiodun Odude appealed to the students to sheath their swords and give peace a chance; and
(12) That all entreaties to the students fell on deaf ears.
In view of the above, Senate, after an extensive deliberation, lasting two hours twenty minutes, decided as follows:
() That the activities of the Students’ Union Executive Council (SUEC) and the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) be suspended until further notice;
() That the process(es) that led the University to the current unpleasant development should be investigated;
(I) That an Ad-Hoc Committee be set up with the following terms of reference (TORs):
(II) To look into the remote and immediate cause(s) of the recent activities of the Students’ Union Executive Council (SUEC) and the Students’ Representative Council (SRC);
(iIi) To review the Union’s Constitution, its structures up to the Faculties’ Associations
(iV) To look into other areas that may be germane to its assignment; and
(v) To make recommendations and submit a report to Senate.
(1) Dean of Law- Chairman/Convener
(2) Prof. A.T.P. Ajuwape, Dean of Students
(3) Prof. A. Fagbola- Chairman, Senate Committee on Admissions
(4) Prof. A.B. Ekanola- Dean, Faculty of Arts
(5) Dr. O. Ajewole- Warden, Nnamdi Azikiwe Hall
(6) Dr. Ruth Adio- Moses, Warden, Queen Idia Hall
(7) Dr. Folashade A. Bello- Warden, Alexander Brown Hall
(8) Miss Heritage Ola- Chairperson, Queen Idia Hall
(9) President, Association of Campus Christian Fellowship
(10) Amir/President, Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN)
(11) Chairperson, AbdulSalami Abubakar Hall
(12) President, Association of Veterinary Medicine Students (AVMS)
(13) President, Pharmacy Students’ Association
(D) That all undergraduate students should vacate the Halls of Residence unfailingly on Tuesday, 30 May, 2017 while Postgraduate Students are not affected by this order as they are expected to continue with their research activities
Senate commended the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Abel Idowu Olayinka for his proactive action in averting serious crisis and noted the decency, maturity and professionalism displayed by CP Abiodun Odude with men and officers of the Nigeria Police, Oyo Sate Command despite highest level of provocation by the students.
Finally, Senate noted the exceptional conduct and courage displayed by residents of Queen Idia Hall for their refusal to participate in the protest despite uncivilised harrassment from their colleagues.