The Students Union Government of the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State has, in strong and clear terms, denounced the ban of its activities by the Ibikunle Amosun-led government in the state, stressing that the proscription tramples on their right to freedom of association.
In a press release signed by the union’s Public Relations Officer, Bamgbopa Olawale, and sent to DailyPost, the students described as a “mother of all lies” and a “diversionary tactics,” the state government’s claim that they were being sponsored by the opposition party in the state.
Find details of the press release below…
STUDENT’S UNION GOVERNMENT
OLABISI ONABANJO UNIVERSITY, AGO-IWOYE, OGUN STATE
We express gratitude to God for His guidance and direction so far, in spite of all the odds against us since the beginning of this struggle. We have been recipients of harsh policies and decisions, yet, our resolve and determination to see this through a logical end, remains unbending, unyielding, and even more solid than it was when we set out to fight this noble course.
INSINCERITY OF THE STATE GOVERNMENT
Since the beginning of this struggle, the Ogun State Government has shown itself to be insincere with the way it has used propaganda, told lies and peddled untruth against the innocent and lawful OOU students. Since we started, we have been very clear in what we want, but that has not stopped us from attending invitations and meetings called by the State Government. The only meetings the president of the Union, refused to attend was meetings which venue is the Legislative House of the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Tola Banjo, and which in most times are fixed at night. The state Government going on air to say we have refused to attend proper meetings because we have ulterior motives and alleged being sponsored by opposition is a grand lie from the pit of hell.
The second day of our peaceful protest to Abeokuta, 15th of August, the Governor, Senator Amosun requested for 7 days to resolve our issue, that he is not aware of certain things. Considering him coming out publicly to say that, we suspended the peaceful protest, and returned to our various campuses. Five days into the 7 days, there was no call or invitation from the State Government. Our students were obviously angry and prepared to storm Abeokuta peacefully as we told the Governor on the last day of the protest. On the 6th day, however, we were invited to a meeting with the Secretary to the State Government, Barrister Taiwo Adeoluwa, who chaired the meeting, with Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Barrister Segun Odubela, and the Special Adviser to the Governor on Student Affairs, Mr Ikechukwu Clement, present from the State Government side. After making our demands clear to them, we were told they were taking the demands to the Governor, since that afternoon around 1:25pm, we never saw them again, around 8:35pm that we decided to leave after calling the commissioner of Education and he wasn’t picking up his calls or replying text messages and SA’s phone was switched off also.
The next morning they invited us to another meeting. Following their antics the previous day, we were reluctant to attend the meeting, but for the sake of history, we attended. Around 9: am we entered Abeokuta on that Friday, they never attended to us, anytime we ask the Commissioner of Education, he would reply that they were coming. After waiting till around 7:45pm, we called the commissioner of Education and he told us that he would advise us to return to our campus, thinking that the government in their usual manner like the way they rushed to the media to announce fee reduction without mutual agreement in any meeting, all to score political point. We thought, they will announce the implementation of it commencing in our own current session, 2013\ 2014 and other demands on the media. However, to our chagrin on Saturday, the Government announced the shutting down of our institution with shallow, baseless and unreasonable premise.
ON ACCUSATIONS OF BEING POLITICALLY SPONSORED
The State Government’s claim that we are being sponsored by the opposition is a mother of all lies and is diversionary tactic. We are not surprised because history has shown that irresponsible and irresponsive Government as we do have them in this part of the world, always look for hiding places when confronted with genuine agitations. During the ‘Alli- Must- go’ struggle of the 70s, the protesters were accused of being politically motivated by the Federal Government. During OAU students’ struggle, the students were accused of being sponsored by the APC. During LASU students’ struggle, the State Government of Lagos said they were sponsored by ‘fifth columnist’ and the Minister for State on Defense, Amb. Obanikoro. We don’t expect our own case to be different. But for record’s sake, we state it boldly that we are neither sponsored by any political party nor political actors. This is why we have been careful from the beginning of this struggle. If the State Government is confident of all it claims that we are being sponsored, let it publish the names of our sponsors and the name of the student leaders involved with proof. Our agitations are premised on truth and conviction in what is right, since 2011 that we have this exorbitant fee, nothing less than 600 students have dropped out from the school. More than 200 have applied for Leave for absence to leave school that session and come back when they have the money. Unfortunately, many left without coming back, coupled with poor funding of the University. Why then will the students fold hands as government systematically snatch Tertiary Education from them?
ON GOVERNOR AMOSUN’S OGTV ANTICS
The recent interview or show called, my stewardship, by Governor Amosun televised on OGTV (Ogun State owned media outfit) is a case of misuse of state resources.
The money that the State Government has spent on propaganda, lies and influencing the media since we started this struggle, if properly channeled would have an impact in the development of our University. If Governor Amosun is convinced in the things he said on OGTV, we challenge the state Government to come back to OGTV and invite us to a debate on OGTV, not making it a one-way discuss. How can he claim that we were masked during our protest? What development especially infrastructural developments are they referring to in OOU from the government?
ON OTHER 10 OGUN INSTITUTIONS’ PROPAGANDA.
It is beyond doubt that only our school, OOU, pays the highest, more than three or four times what other institutions pay in Ogun State. Let it be put straight, it is only OOU that started the agitation for reduction in tuition fee. However, because the state government is more interested in scoring political points and also some Union leaders have been a puppet to the Deputy Speaker, Tola Banjo, which he make use of for political agenda, the state Government extended the rushed cooked reduction to them, which they were surprised of as they never expected it.
Moreover, the other institutions are currently in their second semester for the session of 2013\2014 which means majority of them have paid the fees, set for first semester examination unlike OOU that just started his 2013\2014 session. Therefore, how justifiable is their demand for implementation of the reduction in their already gone 2013\2014 session. Unfortunately, they also asked for this only at the last meeting after information at our disposal pointed to the feet that the state government through the Deputy speaker, Hon. Tola Banjo had instigated them to demand for it, with some collecting nothing less than 150,000 naira. All of these to show to the public that indeed OOU is merely being troublesome and political since 10 out of 11 schools have accepted the Government’s offer and even journeyed for an appreciation demonstration to the Governor. To us this can’t intimidate us as Late Gani Fawehinmi once remarked, continue to stand even if you are standing alone.
ON SHUT DOWN AND PROSCRIPTION OF OUR UNION
It is highly unfortunate that the Governor shut down the Institution after he requested for 7 days, which expired without any positive outcome from him. This clearly shows that the Government is immature and undemocratic. The Lagos State Government for more than 8 weeks of the agitation for tuition fee reduction by the students, never for once shut down the school on the order of the Governor, as the shutdown was done by the Lasu management
To us, the Student s’ Union Government of Olabisi Onabanjo University remains, because its formation is by the entire students and therefore, no management, acting on the directive of the Ogun State Government can proscribe it . There is freedom of association, which is entrenched in the 1999 Constitution of the country, and this section forms the undeniable constitutional bases of our students’ Union.
However, it is apparently incongruous, sad and depict that the Ogun State Governor is civilian in appearance but military in approaching issues, especially sensitive one like ours. We wonder how a government that professes progressiveness and democratic, will shut down a school and attempt to proscribe the Union just because they have superior argument in fighting for their rights?
We therefore unequivocally, demand the immediate re-opening of our institution as the school was set up by an act of the Horse, and so, shutting it down alone by the executive arm is unconstitutional and barbaric. This is not to claim that we want the school reopened at the expense of our demands ab-initio. The reopening of the school must also come with meeting our demands. Mean while, contrary to school management’s claim of the existence of Parents –Teacher s forum, we want the public to know that there is no existence of such forum in our school. And for the Journalists, just ask any student of OOU, if there is any existence of such forum. Let it be known that any plan to put in place Care taker Committee will be massively resisted by the students and will only complicate issues.
TO OUR STUDENTS (OOUITES)
We salute the courage and support of our students since this struggle began especially since day 1 of our peaceful protest to Oke-Imosan, Abeokuta. In our Congress, even the Union leaders were shocked by the deluge of determined students (OOUITES) present. Your determination to fight this course to the end has been our motivation. We salute all our students that have remained in the school, despite the State Government’s threat and influx of police and military men. We are convinced that we shall win this struggle, regardless of intimidation, threats, and propaganda against us. Our next move requires all hand to be on deck. At this juncture, Barrister Femi Falana, the principal officer of Falana and Falana Chambers on pro-bono, is now the Legal Adviser of the Union on this case, as it is obvious that Government can be funny at times. Sequel to this, the leadership of OOU students Union wishes to express our profound gratitude to the Legal icon for accepting to take up this historical task.
For record purpose, it must be reiterated that on no account has OOU Union Leader(s) solicited for any financial support/assistance from any political group/ party/individuals to promote our struggle. The public should therefore be weary of any person(s) going about asking for fund under the disguise of OOU students Union.
On the final note, we extend our appreciation to every organization (JAF), National body of NANS movement, NANS ZONE D, the Union Leaders of LASU, and every well meaning individual, Comrades and our ever-rugged Students who have been standing by us.
- More reduction in tuition fee which is in tandem with the economic reality of the State
Implementation of the reduction for 2013/2014 academic session
Proper funding of the University
Completion of the Hostel or immediate transfer to the school management
Immediate reopening of Olabisi Onabanjo University
Total removal of all security operatives (SSS, MOPOL, OP-MESSA, POLICE)
Non victimization of our Students or Students Leaders
In the face of exorbitant tuition fees, OOUITES shall emerge victorious.
Ifade Olusegun (Socialist)
Bamgbopa Olawale (Walerio)
Public Relations Officer