Posted by Abiodun Alade | 9 June 2014 | 4,346 times
Fashola, jail them! Please, jail them!! I am without fear that it will be the best way to fan ‘His Excellency’s’ ego and keep the students mute in the face of obvious oppression. At a time like this, nothing else will occupy my mind but this height of draconian rule and a show of oppression by the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), to the helpless students of Lagos State University (LASU).
What is the crime of the students? Their major crime remains their intent to pursue higher education and, hopefully, become better citizens in a country impoverished by the ruling class. This same class, which the governor belongs to, is widely alleged to have plundered the resources of the country, converted the commonwealth of the people to their sole property by amassing public funds for their yet-to-be-born generations. The majority of the citizenry wallow in poverty and uncertain of a future; yet they will not allow the oppressed to even have a voice.
The recent unlawful detention and shambolic prosecution of LASU students by the Lagos State Government (make no mistake, the police boss is acting the script of the man at Alausa) is condemnable and it can only happen in our clime. I cannot fathom the hatred of Fashola for LASU and the poor masses. In the last four years (2010 till date), LASU has been shut for more than two years, if not three. And the governor that promised a Brighter Rewarding Future expects the students to keep quiet? It is sad. The governor expects the students not to react to the arbitrary increment of tuition from N25,000 to N350,000. Fashola will need the university to admit dummies for that to happen. In a state where the average worker goes home with less than N18,000 a month, you expect parents to pay N350,000 per academic session?
The argument by the governor that the hike was a fallout of the recommendation by the Visitation Panel set up on the advice of the House of Assembly is laughable. Why is he bent on increasing the tuition? Was that the only recommendation by the panel? I recollect vividly that Fashola told the world that Lagos lawmakers can only advise him during the ‘Hussain must go crisis’. This was after a competent committee by the lawmakers indicted the then VC and recommended his removal; why is he now so passionate about obeying the same House he disrespected then?
It took a round of protest for Hussain to finally leave. And need I say more than 17 students from School of Communication, Surulere, who had engaged in a peaceful protest were detained for almost 72 hours at Ogudu Area Command of the Nigeria Police on the directives of the ‘oga at the top’. It took the intervention of a lawyer for the then CP, Marvellous Akpoyibo, to set them free (majority of whom were ladies in their teens, yes 100 and 200 level students).
And this argument that LASU was becoming the school of the poor is totally condemnable and cannot fly in a sane mind. How? Oga Fashola, during my days, I know of students from wealthy homes that we shared the same class. And if this is a problem and the best solution is to turn the school to the University of the Rich, then I am afraid, the poor can’t live in Lagos. Indeed, an elitist government, government for the ‘haves’. How come UNILAG, UI, UNIZIK or OAU are not universities of the poor?
How can you claim you are in dialogue with the students when you have failed to take action on the proposal you demanded from them? To worsen the situation, the Obafunwa-led administration shut down the portal, as a graduate from LASU, I know what that means.
I will not doubt it if by the time Fashola will leave office (I earnestly pray for May 29, 2015); LASU gates would have been shut for more days than it was opened for academic activities. Don’t bother about the calculation, a simple scenario will do. As at 2007, when Fashola was elected governor on the strength of votes by the students and their parents, I was in my second year in the university; sadly I was still in 400 level when Fashola won a second term; yes, for a four-year study without any failure in my courses let alone of an extra year. One of the young guys I served with in November 2011 at Akwa Ibom State gained admission in 2008 in another university. You can now calculate the wasted years for an average LASU student. Oga Fashola, what academic session is LASU in as at today with the entire abracadabra that was done recently?
Without apology, I am certain if this had happened in a PDP-controlled state, our so called social media critics or influencers would have turned the heat on the government. There would have been press releases from different groups backing the views that would have been conveyed by the ‘master in the game’, Mr. Lai Mohammed. Sadly, Lagos State and Fashola can do no wrong, so LASU gates can remain closed till kingdom comes and the students can be molested (even, killed) to submission, who cares? At a time like this, the death of Gani Fawehinmi becomes most painful.
The public perception of LASU is discouraging. I have worked in places and to many, LASU is that Nazareth that they doubt if any good thing can ever come from. In the last one year plus, Fashola has willingly turned LASU students to public disturbance and ‘those students that spend more time on the streets protesting than in the class receiving lectures’. I think the police charged the wrong person(s). Were the students disturbing public peace when academic session was on? If the governor had not provoked them, would they have been on the streets venting their anger? Who hijacked the said LAGBUS? And why is LAGBUS more precious than the students that were allegedly brutalised by the police through the firing of live bullets and canisters to disrupt a peaceful demonstration?
What is LASU’s crime, Oga Fashola? What have we done to warrant this? You never had to go through this at UNIBEN! You had free qualitative education that prepared you for the leadership position that you occupy today. It was not that you were an exception because that Law School Class of 88 as it is called produced other heavyweights in the society. Why can’t you give back to the society that gave so much to you?
Sadly, I cannot but talk about the caged and stooge alumni association of LASU. No disrespect to the leadership but to me they are helpless. I have seen UNILAG alumni champion the cause of their alma mata and, credit to them, they do it every day. I wish at a time like this, that LASU alumni would rise and help save the school from total damage. Either we like it or not; in fact, with our other degrees from other institutions, we are products of LASU and LASU needs us now. Fashola and Obafunwa do not have any certificate from LASU and their administration will end one day. We will be left to face our shame wherever we go. I pledge my total commitment to the movement of LASUSU and refuse to be cowed by the intimidation of the government. If you need me for a struggle in the next hour, I will heed the clarion call. Injustice to one is injustice to all and DARE TO STRUGGLE, DARE TO WIN. I say #SaveLASU. If all of us, including spirited individuals will help spread the #saveLASU with at least ten tweets a day, we can get the world to our rescue.
Mentioning international media or organisations such as @CNNnews @aljazeera @UNICEF @BarrackObama, among others, will help. What Fashola is doing is the abduction of the dreams and future of more than 200,000 Nigerians and the world needs to know before we breed another terror worse than Boko Haram.
A moral lesson to Alawiye King, Lekan Ogunbanwo, SOB Agunbiade, Ayodele Adewale, Sound Sultan, Omobaba, and the deputy governor: if for the spoil of office, your alma mata is ruined and you keep quiet, Fashola and co will make fun at you. I bet Fashola will rise for UNIBEN when the call is made. You occupy that office for a time like this; take a clue from Esther and Nehemiah in the Holy Scriptures.
Other prominent graduates of the institution in the political and social spheres must use their influence now to win this battle. You may live in denial but LASU is inscribed on your certificate; I need not mention names.
It is great to desire higher position but, to me, it is more honourable to know what to do with it; to be man enough for the responsibilities that the office demands. That is my simple message to as many that occupy leadership positions in the citadel of learning.
If this is the new face that Fashola promised us, we pray it ends soon. The governor recently claimed he is counting down his days in office. Glad to tell you, Sir, that after eight years of reign, LASU will remember you and your side of the coin is known.
With what I know as a student activist and former Editor-in-Chief of LASUGONG, is that LASU was never poor and it wouldn’t be rich by the increment in tuition. And the available resources (Federal allocation and IGR) to Lagos state can conveniently fund LASU, we need not deceive ourselves. If lesser economically buoyant states can do it, it is a shame for the ‘Centre of Excellence’ to turn education to the exclusive right of the rich.
And to those who boast in taken lives of those that oppose them, please die no more. Live as long as you wish and own the world. I am not afraid of your bullet; die I will one day.
•Comrade Abiodun Alade is former Member, Students’ Advisory Council, LASU, former Editor-in-Chief, LASUGONG, former Deputy Speaker, Communication Students’ Parliamentary Council, and former President, Journalism Students’ Association, LASU. Photo shows Governor Fashola.
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