Am I speaking with Femi Adeyanju” “No, This is Femi Adeyeye,” I answered. “Oh whatever…, she continued threatening all sorts. I had to end the call as I won’t entertain calls from people with concealed identities.
Earlier today, I received a call from one Bunmi who sounded like a UNILAG student and then may be an acquaintance of the popular MC Oluomo. In this unfortunate conversation, she claimed that I am about to destroy the lives of some students like mine was destroyed and that I would regret it. For me, threats like these are too simple. I have been told not to come to Ikorodu area of Lagos before and I went there the next day. My life is that of threats. These days, you don’t have to be an activist before you are killed violently. You just have to be a Nigerian and maybe a poor one.
The discussion came as a result of the trending issue on Twitter after I posted a captioned picture of the publicity flyer that invited MC Oluomo to the UNILAG for an event organized by students of the Geography department. Interestingly, for those who know the gist, Sowore also graduated from that department. The writer of the caption on the trending picture expressed her dissatisfaction, bemoaning the Authorities on what she felt is bad for the image of the University. The writer queried the University Authorities on the cancellation of an earlier invitation of Sowore to a programme organized by the Muslim Society which would have held the day Sowore was abducted by the DSS if it was not eventually cancelled by the UNILAG Management for reasons they may have to explain at the end of this article. The writer in that very short piece expressed so much anger at the choice and acceptance of MC Oluomo while Sowore is seen as a threat in an academic community.
Contrary to what a lot of persons have raised on the media space since the issue started trending, I do not see anything fundamentally wrong with such invitation. Anyone can be invited to any event on any Campus. It is the level of engagement that should be the focus. A porn star was invited to give a talk at an American University sometime ago on an issue a Professor of Sex therapy could not do well with. That’s why it is called a University. Universality of ideas!
MC Oluomo coming as either a Guest or a Speaker isn’t an issue. Coming to speak on Transportation? Yes! He would have a lot to say. In fact, I would be his loyal fan if he, as an experienced “Union leader” come to speak about Unionism; how a Campus of over 30,000 students does not have a Students’ Union. I will leap for joy. Those students asking if he would speak English or not may just be hypocritical or better put mischievous with such comments. Today, he is a leader of one of the most militant Unions in Nigeria- NURTW. If NANS could muster half of the militancy the NURTW prides over, no government can stand in the way of the rights of students. “Militancy” in this context means “resistance”. Unfortunately, English Language could not achieve it for NANS! The kids in China who manufactured the phones with which the “English students” used to type such comments on Twitter can not speak English. It is therefore out of place to think MC Oluomo should never be invited to a University.
Where I am aligning my thoughts is what the writer had succinctly pointed out – Why is/was Sowore a threat to a University but MC Oluomo isn’t? That’s the major fuss anyone who appreciates intellectualism and understands Comprehension as a subject should make a whole lot of noise about.
Another aspect that calls for serious concern is the image laundering part. Many are asking what the University may be painting to the public by showcasing Sowore as a threat but welcoming an MC Oluomo. Do not forget that this is the same University that suspended me (still under suspension without fair hearing) with an allegation that I brought the name of the University to disrepute for exposing the malfeasance and mismanagement of the Authorities. What is more disreputable than this act of double standards displayed by the Management?
The University sometime in May was also in the news for weeks over misappropriation, financial improprieties, abuse of office- allegations on both the past and current Vice Chancellors, Registrar, Bursar etc. Disrepute!
The case may have died a natural death since the matter was brought before a Committee at House of Representatives where bigger misappropriations take place. The parting question would have been “How much una misappropriate sef?”.
Another prominent member of the Civil society in Nigeria reached out. His words, “I know what I faced over my insistence that Sowore be invited to the last Presidential Town Hall Meeting on Housing organized by UNILAG Centre for Housing. It was tough. I told them that he must be invited or else the programme should not hold. They can not forgive me”.
A student of the University also reached out to me and opined that it is not the fault of those who invited MC Oluomo and other guests. In his words, “The department need some facilities and since the Government or School can not provide, the students resorted to self-help. What was requested from these people today at the event would never been done by government in 10 years”.
Maybe he is right or wrong, history has shown us and those who would answer the question have their offices in the tallest building on the campus. They should be called to a panel instead of the news I heard also today that the students may face a panel. Any vindictive panel raised against these student leaders to punish them for the invitation (except other things are involved) must be resisted by all well-meaning Nigerians. They have done nothing wrong. The people who should be called to a panel by both a competent court of public opinion and higher Authorities in the Education sector are the Management officers of the University. And here are the questions.
-Why was Sowore not allowed?
-Must we all agree to the policies of the ruling party as against the healthy culture of debate, just to be “friends” of the University?
-Are we still in a University where people are free to express themselves and associate ?
- VC, are you still capable of managing the affairs of this University or we look elsewhere?
The earlier we ask these salient and very important questions, the better for us.
Failure to do so may lead to the point when we would have to show our party membership cards before we are allowed to enter the gates of the University. Political affiliation may determine students’ admissions very soon. If the ruling party is APC, only APC members or apologists would secure admission. Same as other parties when they get to power.
Adeyeye Olorunfemi is a politically victimized student activist and writer. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org