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Students of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, have expressed indignation over the invitation of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to the forthcoming 43rd combined convocation of the university holding next week.
According to a statement by Gbenga Ololoniran, the Protem Chairman of Great Ife Students’ Union Action Committee, it is condemnable to invite Mr Osinbajo to a university that is a victim of government’s negligence of the education sector.
“To invite such a prime figure behind the underfunding of education to be honoured among students is a mockery on students and education itself,” the student activist stated.
He said Nigeria is under “economic and political bondage as a result of the anti-masses policies of the federal government.”
Mr Ololoniran said the neglect of the education sector by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration has “led to a hike in fees in several institutions and made it difficult for the children of average Nigerians to access qualitative education.”
He added that the struggle against the situation by students has led to their “grievous victimisation and repressions on students’ unionism even on Obafemi Awolowo University.”
“At this period where the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has been on strike across universities, including OAU, over the rotten state of university education, it is still a shock to us that the only solution provided by the government is for tertiary students to begin to pay N700,000 as tuition fee per session.
“We, therefore, see the presence of such anti-student figure of the government in an academic arena to be a guest speaker, as a rape of our collective intelligence in a university where students’ academic activities are currently battered by the nationwide industrial action of ASUU.
“We make bold to assert that Prof. Yemi Osinbajo is not welcome on OAU campus.”
To avert the gate of the university “being shut against the vice president”, the students’ leader said the government must “initiate adequate funding of education by committing at least 26 per cent of the country’s budget as against the paltry 7seven per cent to the education sector.”
He also demanded the federal government “immediately yield to the demands of ASUU on university education and earned workers allowance and immediately lift workers’ wage beyond N30,000 minimum wage to alleviate the striking poverty level in the country.”
Reacting to Mr Ololoniran’s statement, however, the spokesperson of the university, Abiodun Olanrewaju, said the student activist was only expressing “a personal opinion”.
“In fact, the OAU Community, particularly the students, are eagerly waiting for a day when either President Muhammadu Buhari or Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, or both of them, will come to OAU on a visit,” Mr Olanrewaju said in a statement.
“The community is ready to give a rousing welcome to the Senior Advocate of Nigeria and renowned Professor of law whose brilliant performance in the present administration has done the academic community proud.”
He advised the general public to “disregard in its entirety the release by anybody which runs contrary to the motto of the university: For Learning and Culture.”
Mr. Olanrewaju further stated: “The University, as approved by its Senate, has decided to award an Honorary Degree to a very distinguished Nigerian academic and radical intellectual activist, Professor Biodun Jeyifo, English Professor Emeritus at Cornell University and, currently, Professor of African and African and American Studies and of Comparative Literature at Harvard University, in the United States of America (USA) during its 43rd combined convocations.”
Some students who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES, however, accused Mr Olanrewaju of “fallacy” in stating that the students were “eagerly waiting for the day either President Muhammadu Buhari or Mr Osinbajo will come to OAU on a visit.”
“No reasonable student is willing to welcome the vice president or the president himself to an institution that is not getting proper funding. The ASUU strike is on for a month now and the government pretended to be deaf,” a student who simply identified himself as Muneer said.
“Mr Olanrewaju should speak for his paymaster, which is the university and not for the generality of students.”
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