UNILAG, depriving students the right to Unionise

UNILAG, depriving students the right to Unionise

The executive and legislative arms of the University of Lagos (UNILG) Students’ Union (ULSU) was dissolved by the school management following students protest against poor welfare and high cost of goods and services on campus.

 

The University of Lagos (UNILAG) campus on Monday was a scene of heightened tension as heavily armed police personnel were deployed in response to students’ protest calling for the restoration of the Students’ Union.

The school management dissolved the executive and legislative arms of the University of Lagos Students’ Union (ULSU) for leading students to protest against poor welfare and high cost of goods and services on campus.

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One of the student leaders, Oyelumade Oluwakemi, told SaharaReporters that the school management had refused to make any concrete plans public to reinstate the union as promised, beyond mere lip service.

He said, “NANS (National Association of Nigerian Students) issued an ultimatum to the university management to make good on the promise of reinstating the union. The ultimatum was issued two weeks ago and expires today.

“I guess the presence of heavily armed security officers at the school gate is the university management’s response.

 

“It’s mindboggling really why the management refuses to come good on promises made to students, but it’s also not surprising as this is characteristic of draconian authorities.

“In fact, I dare say this is more reason why there is a need for a union on campus to represent the interests of students. The union can also serve as a platform for students to develop leadership qualities that would be beneficial to the society.”

 

Oluwaakemi said the proscription in 2016 was implemented by the Professor Rahman Bello-led management, to avoid any confusion.

However, the promise to reinstate the union was made last year by the current Vice-Chancellor, Professor Folasade Ogunsola, in a meeting with NANS executives and UNILAG faculty presidents. This was published in various media outlets.

 

He said, “The union was proscribed in 2016 because students protested against poor living and learning conditions, of which if you ask me, it’s well within the rights of students to demand accountability from the school management through their student body and protest is a fundamental right enshrined in the Nigerian constitution.

“The union also serves as a pressure group to hold school management accountable. The management proscribing the union is evident that they do not respect democratic values.

 

“This has become the norm in UNILAG as subsequent managements over the years have also continued the trend of depriving students the right to unionise. Various generation of students from UNILAG have been produced who have had no experience of campus unionism.

“This is quite terrible because it has social implications. Those students go out into the society without learning their role as important actors in holding authorities accountable.

 

“At this point, it is also important that I mention that the promise to reinstate the union was a product of struggle – a struggle waged by UNILAG students under the aegis of the Students’ Solidarity Group Against Fees Hike (SSG) through the #FeesMustFall campaign. However, the promise to reinstate the union was made by the school management at the negotiation table in a meeting with NANS executives and UNILAG faculty presidents.”

 

He added that the school management was forced to call for a meeting after shunning previous negotiations with the student delegation of the Students’ Solidarity Group because the protests attracted media attention and certain things were coming to light about the school.

 

Efforts made by SaharaReporters to get the school’s head of communications, Mrs Adejoke Alaga-Ibrahim on the phone for comments failed as she neither answered the calls nor replied to the text message sent to her.

 

It was earlier reported that the Education Reforms Council (ERC) condemned the University of Lagos Senate’s decision to dissolve the executive and legislative arms of the University of Lagos Students’ Union (ULSU) for leading students to protest poor welfare conditions and high cost of goods and services on campus. It also demanded the immediate restoration of students’ union and an end to further abridgement of the rights of students.

This was contained in a statement jointly signed by Hassan Taiwo Soweto and Michael Ogundele, ERC National Coordinator and Secretary respectively.

 

According to the statement, the action of the university’s Senate amounts to an assault on the democratic rights of students to freely associate.

“That the University of Lagos is dissolving ULSU less than two years after it was restored, following over one decade of proscription, is a sign that intolerance has continued to rule the hearts and minds of members of the university management,” the statement said.

 

The ERC also frowned on the decision of the university authorities to compel all students and their parents to sign undertaking and indemnity forms and demanded its immediate reversal.

According to ERC, it is meant to intimidate students from standing up for their rights.

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