UNILAG Management Reacts to Recent Students’ Union Protest
The Management of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) expresses its profound disappointment with the disruptive and unnecessary 2-day demonstration organised by University of Lagos Students’ Union (ULSU) led by its President, Mr. Muhammed Olaniyan.
The University wishes to reiterate that contrary to ULSU’s claim of the inaccessibility of the Vice-Chancellor, the leadership of the students had unfettered access to the Vice-Chancellor. In fact, a meeting held in his office on 1st April, 2016 between 5.30pm and 7.30 pm. This informal discussion was at the behest of the ULSU President, Mr. Muhammed Olaniyan, who met the Vice-Chancellor in company of two other members of ULSU executive. The meeting discussed various issues. However, contrary to issues discussed, ULSU sent two letters dated April 1 and 4, 2016 respectively on the following:
· A quest for a new and befitting University Main gate
· The purchase of a new bus for ULSU
· The directive to the executive of cab operators to ‘abdicate office’ immediately.
A cursory look at the reasons advanced by the Union for the protests clearly indicated that many of the issues were spontaneously manufactured to justify the premeditated move to truncate the University’s academic calendar.
Until recently the University of Lagos had enjoyed a reasonably steady supply of electricity. It is a fact that the University, like every other part of the country, is now faced with the challenges of electricity and fuel supply. Students at all times were kept abreast of government and University’s efforts to improve the situation. SMS were sent on the LagMobile to all students to inform of the need to ration electricity to service critical areas such as classrooms, Library and hostels.
The University currently has two units of 2,000KVA generating sets while the delivery of an additional two units of 2,000KVA generating sets is being awaited.
The University Management places a high premium on the regular supply of water to the hostels. Despite the lack of water supply from Lagos State Water Corporation, the University maintains a largely steady supply of water to the Halls of Residence using its own internal sources.
The fact is that every hostel has its own borehole, from which it is serviced during emergencies.
Prices of Commodities on Campus
The University has a Standing Committee that regulates and monitors the prices of commodities on Campus. The Committee, supervised by the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs, comprises ULSU Welfare Officers, food vendors, other commercial operators and representatives of the Dean of Student Affairs.
Decisions arrived at by the Committee are enforced by the Committee itself. There are existing procedures for sanctioning violators of such decisions. It is curious that, to date, no violations have been reported by ULSU to the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs.
Shortage of Supply of Sachet Water on Campus
The University of Lagos Ventures, the producers of sachet and bottled water, has been the only authorised supplier of sachet water to the University to guarantee quality of the water. Recently, it experienced a hitch in production on account of a valve problem with one of its equipment which led to shortages in supply. This resulted in complaints of inadequate supply from ULSU. ULSU unilaterally decided to bring into Campus another brand of sachet water which it sold to the students’ populace without any assurance of quality.
The Vice-Chancellor, taking due cognisance of the possibility of health hazards from contaminated water, directed the Dean of Student Affairs to liaise with the Commercial Operators on the campus to come up with a laboratory-tested, NAFDAC certified brands to augment supplies. This was duly communicated to ULSU.
As at the date of the protest, supply of sachet water on Campus was adequate with no complaints of any shortages from the student populace.
Intra-campus transportation is managed by Cab Operators. The University has a Regulatory Committee that moderates the fare and ensures the road worthiness of the vehicles. The Committee has student representation and no complaints were made to the Committee by ULSU on any matter that affects Students’ transportation on Campus. Recently, in a letter dated April 4, 2016, ULSU “directed the Executive of the Cab Operators’ Union to abdicate office or face drastic measures”- a matter not within their purview.
In the light of the explanations above, Management found it hard to comprehend the motivation for the protests of April 6th and 7th, 2016.
· In carrying out the protests, Student leaders put the University under siege for over 48 hours when they locked the University’s two gates.
· This act caused untold hardship to families and pupils of the nursery, primary and secondary schools on campus who, after closing for the day, were prevented from going to their homes until about 11.00 pm.
· More alarming is the fact that the protesting students invaded the UNILAG Ventures and water production factory to beat up the staff and cart away countless number of bottled water packets.
· The University Senate, in an emergency meeting to deliberate on the crisis, arranged for a delegation of Senate comprising all serving and former Deans present, led by the highly revered Professor Akin Oyebode, to persuade the Student officials to suspend the protest and opt for dialogue.
· Rather, the protesters, some of who surprisingly wore masks, threw empty water bottles and other objects at the delegation and failed to listen to any appeal for negotiation.
· For the first time in the history of the University of Lagos, a Students protest extended until very late in the night. Indeed, masked protesters surrounded the University Council Chamber, where the Vice-Chancellor was presiding over the meeting of the Senate until well after 10.00 pm.
· It is worth recalling that in the last seven months, there have been occasional protests organised by ULSU which were contained by dialogue, none of which led to the closure of the University.
· This protest started on Wednesday, April 6, continued on Thursday April 7 with ULSU making good its threat to sustain the protest on Friday April 8, 2016.
· Vehicles were hijacked by identifiable ULSU officials and driven recklessly all over the Campus thereby endangering the lives of members of the community.
· Classes were violently disrupted in various faculties by identifiable ULSU officials, who harassed lecturers and also tore up students’ scripts in places where tests were being administered such as in the Faculties of Business Administration and Science.
· It is a fact that some of the ULSU officials are being investigated for numerous misdemeanours. It is not far-fetched to see why this minuscule group teamed up with some others who were recently expelled for forgery and others facing police investigation for suspected homicide, to forment trouble and disrupt the academic calendar.
The University Senate, therefore, decided to suspend all academic activities and close down the hostels from Friday, April 8, 2016 to avoid further breakdown of law and order.
In spite of the order, ULSU officials took over the two University gates and locked up the hostels to prevent law abiding students from obeying the Senate order.
The Senate directed the investigation of the immediate and remote causes of the incident. A Committee of Senate has been set up for this purpose to come up with appropriate recommendations to avoid a recurrence.
Interested stakeholders are enjoined to forward memoranda to:
The Committee of Senate on Students Unrest c/o The Registrar, 5th Floor, Senate House, University of Lagos OR to: firstname.lastname@example.org
A stable academic calendar is a sine qua non for qualitative education and cannot be over emphasized. The University wishes to assure all law abiding students, parents, guardians and other stakeholders that the University will not be closed for a day longer than necessary. Indeed, we are aware that a majority of the students are law-abiding and did not support the protest.
The University thanks all for their understanding and support at this time.
Dr. (Mrs.) TaiwoFolasadeIpaye, FNIM
Registrar and Secretary to Senate