Aja ti yoo sonu, kii gbo fere olode (a dog that is bound to get lost will not hear the hunter’s whistle) ~ Yoruba proverb
My delight knows no bounds as I make my appearance again before you Milords. Four months away from your keen eyes and acute intellect is four months too many. I humbly welcome you all from the long recess hoping you put it to great use by increasing in sagacity, enough sagacity to tackle the unending sagas in this university. I welcome you to the warm hands of vagrancy, drought, darkness, Anopheles and most importantly, Aluta.
On Wednesday, the 9th of March, we heard stories of various marches – the march of fresh students to Trenchard hall, their second pilgrimage to ICC and the counter-march of NASU members aimed at dislodging the students. Today, in a funny twist of event, the students are wailing and lamenting their misfortune. Some who were not even within 10 miles of the drama are crying more than the bereaved. They say members of NASU have committed a felonious crime. They call for their heads as though a new thing has been unveiled by the sunlight. They paint NASU as a frenzied aggressor and the students as innocent martyrs, just as some do in relation to Buhari and Dasuki. However milords, I stand before you today to trumpet the fall of this spurious Wall of Jericho.
To start with, those who argue for the student-plaintiffs do so vehemently only in reliance upon half-baked narratives. They make sure they share only the chapter of the novel which favours them while leaving out details which are debilitating to their claim. Milords, these are the kinds of persons who eagerly tell their lovers in another campus that they have the CGPA of 3.5, while conveniently blotting out the fact that UI uses (at least for their set) the 7.0 scale.
Some parts of the tale which are not so common include those which reveal the folly of the Vice Chancellor and the outright stupidity of some freshmen. The Vice Chancellor was reliably reported to have arrogantly told the students that the approaching unionists posed no threat, and so they should sit tight and fear not. What a wise thing to do, isn’t it? As wise as how Prophet Daniel Abodunrin jumped into the lions’ den at UI zoo in 1991. Even our elders say in their characteristic wisdom that the day you beat your creditor is the day you must pay his debt.
Furthermore milords, the emergency human activists will surely conveniently forget to tell you how some of the students, male especially, rolled up their sleeves in preparation for battle against the disgruntled unionists. They obviously had been drunk from the palm wine of aluta shared at the congress ground the previous weekend. They thought their gang of teenage muscles was any match against the ancestral, overfed sticks wielded by the unionists. Little did they know that khaki pass leather. Milords, from these facts, it is not out of place to deduce that the sticks were even applied in self-defence or due to provocation. Even if that is not the case, let us be objective and make no pretence about it. Some of the students actually deserved it. And you know what they say: folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away (i.e. aya omode ni were di si, egba ni ao fi tuka).
We must also not lose sight of the egregious fact of double standards. On the 7th of May last year, students in the university protested the unfortunate death of Mayowa Alaran. In the thick of this brouhaha, we witnessed students flogging their colleagues because they decided to obey their lecturers and not incompetent union leaders. We saw students battering fellow students and, if you may, dogs eating dogs. If we saw this and did not raise any eyebrow, why do we do so now? If this is not brazen hypocrisy, milords what it is?
For those who are quick to cry human rights! Constitution! Right to the dignity of human person! Please remember that the first violator of rights in this case is none but the school management which denied NASU members their basic source of livelihood. The second are the students who stood in support of the school in their rule of tyranny. And the few members of NASU only come third (for a good reason too). Remember also that in a time of war, the law is silent (inter arma enim silent leges). I am not a lover of schadenfreude and neither are my parents members of NASU but milords, the students in issue here are no victims. They had it coming.
You don’t lead by hitting people- that’s assault not leadership – Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The travails and hardship of the Non-Academic Staff Union has not gone unnoticed. Even the eyes of a blind man could not possibly refuse to be pierced by the light of their plight. Their cries of foul have been animated through the magic of the media and these cries have grown wings and flown to every corner of the earth. They have succeeded in drawing empathetic pity from the rest of the public over their issues with the school management. But this is not to argue whether or not NASU is justified in their perceived war with the management.
According to a news article penned by UI alumnus, Seyi Awojulugbe for The Cable, published on the 9th of March, 2016, some unidentified NASU officials disrupted the school’s freshmen orientation ceremony. Initially, the students had attempted to settle in the Trenchard Hall before being directed to the International Conference Centre. There, as reported, NASU members barged into the venue and chased the students out, even to the extent of flogging them.
There have been numerous debates as to whether or not it was right to have harassed the students like that. Of course, it is arguable that the NASU officials were aggrieved and embittered. It is arguable that they had felt their integrity being torn away from them by the management. It is arguable that they had no choice but to revolt. Those are still up for argument. But it would require brash bravery and incessant insensitivity to defend their show of violence towards the students.
The freshmen, God bless their tender hearts, had been looking forward to the orientation ceremony with zealous zest. They day turned out to be full of horror for them. It almost seemed as if they had been thrust into an impromptu scene of a bad Quentin Tarantino movie. Innocence. That is the word here, My Lords. The innocent kids were thrown into the middle of the exchange of blows between both warring parties. The sad part is that it was almost literal. They were hurt and victimised for absolutely no reason. What a way to welcome them, right? Perhaps the orientation they got is the lesson that one must always get ready to fight because a bunch of angry people could attack you at any time. When has it ever been right to direct your anger at someone else, no matter the provocation? I believe no one has the right to defend them for this offence. Why? Had it been a student, he/she would have been visited with the dreaded Student Disciplinary Committee letter, if not immediately bundled and thrown into the back of an abefele patrol vehicle like a first-rate criminal. But for some reason, the defendant thinks we are just supposed to ignore justify this act?
According to the same “The Cable” article, students have bashed and condemned this. As if we need any more evidence that this is injustice at its best, here is a quote from an unnamed student: “I was present at the venue because of my kid sister and I just managed to run out of that place with her and one of her friends had a broken arm and now she’s somewhere taking treatment.”
Imagine yourself in their shoes. You are someone’s child. You had been obedient enough to arrive at the venue on time and even complied when you were later moved to another venue. You waited, anticipating the official pseudo-induction ceremony into the campus community. And instead of the rain of celebration sending shivers of joy down your freshman spine, what you got instead was a shower of fiery blows that exploded all over your body and burned your bones till they emitted smokes of desolation. Those who were supposed to be your role models and guardians had betrayed your naivety and flogged you with whips of menace. You cried for help. For safety. For meaning. For strength. For justice. None ever came and at that point, you were sure the whole world was against you. Tell me, is it possible on God’s earth for you to rule the culprits as justified, if you were in those shoes?
I hereby implore the jury to conclude that those certain unknown NASU officials who committed this atrocity be found guilty and the verdict be: NOT JUSTIFIED. When the elders of the land choose to treat the younger ones as battle foes, we have a land heading for destruction. Let us place the blame on whom it is due, so that this does not repeat itself. I rest my case.
CONCLUSION: This column is about you, it presents the two sides of a case courtesy of two writers from different schools of thought. “Audi alteram partem” means hear the other side before passing your judgment. Take the gavel, make your decision and slam because you are the judge in this courtroom.
ARE NASU MEMBERS JUSTIFIED TO HAVE FLOGGED STUDENTS OF UI?
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