Sometime last week, a group of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) students besieged the government house of Oyo State, Nigeria because their university has been on strike for about 7/8 months. Nothing is ever encouraging for students who stop school and are simply at home doing nothing productive or even increasing in value. So these ones decided to pay the Chief Executive Officer of their state a visit demanding worthy answers as to why a State university under his jurisdiction has been closed for that long.
Majority of the response the students got was heart-wrenching I must say even though there is a version that he apologized to them. Whichever the case, for saying things like “was I the one that closed your school”, “you should show respect to me for leaving my meeting to come here” and many more things that are ungubernatorial (permit me to use). Occupying that office has already marked him as a leader but unfortunately those statements seem not to elicit the worthy qualities of being a leader at all.
Personally for me, when I was the course rep of my Masters class of 2013, I remember a day were the key to the studio (class) was nowhere to be found and they were protesting being locked outside; I knew how to pacify them without trying to pride on the simple ego of being the class rep then. At the end I apologized, we made jokes out of it, the door was opened and everyone was happy.
In this case the executive governor of Oyo State came and started saying things that will only get frustrated students more offended. Let me also add that the situations in our tertiary institutions are not conducive for quality education not to talk of acquiring a good grade from them. When the frustration (temptation) of a lecturer who has not been paid for months meets with students who are innocent (opportunity), you know the rest. Many levies will be demanded from these students which they have to comply if they will ever graduate with a pass from such schools. We are not even talking about the female students who go through worse demands from these lecturers acting out the frustration initiated by a failing government. Ever wondered why some people graduate from schools in Nigeria with a Second Class Upper and go abroad for masters and come out as best graduating students? A suitable environment for learning.
These narrations are definitely obvious.
The video where the governor was speaking had the following people; the governor himself, students, non-students, residents of Oyo state, passersby, policemen in uniform, State Security Services agents, government officials in the governor’s entourage, press and maybe more.
Now the students who created the scene for such comments to come from a governor did a bit of revolting by protesting the closure of their schools and peacefully of course but definitely they can do more. There are many approaches to a revolution, some legitimate some others are not, some peaceful, some others violent.
So what options are open to these students who are limited by resources but at this stage unlimited with time (yes of course they are out of school);
- Rallying other students or young people: LAUTECH is definitely not the only school in Oyo State, neither is it the only meeting point for young people who already are politically, socially and economically aware of happenings in the country. The governor by those statements was trying to pass the baton of blame on the students by focusing on things that are irrelevant to his responsibility of governance. He dared them by saying “go and do your worst”. By that statement he not only abused the tenets of democracy but also abused the Office of the Citizen, not to talk of the greater offence of not knowing the disposition to put as a leader in front of protesting citizens of his state. Even though he might get some little justification for such statements (like the belated apology), such statements are definitely not worthy enough to be used to describe one who truly is a leader.
The LAUTECH students however have an opportunity to rally other young people around to massively protest his resignation as governor. The other students if spoken to and they see that such a statement to LAUTECH students can also be meted on them will see reason to join the protest. You don’t trample on the dignity and rights of citizens who have paid fees into the coffers of the state government. How can a governor leave the real question of why their schools have been closed and start meddling with unimportant issues like respect and being elder. If he truly is an elder who also is a father or a granddad then he should know how not to abuse children who ask innocent questions. Experience (which is what elders’ pride) can really become obsolete.
- Boycott of major activities in the state: Nigeria today is known to have many young people or what is now popularly known as millennials who form part of every key sectors of the economy. Young people are the engine of businesses, organizations, as entrepreneurs, schools; they buy things more and are in fact the larger players in economic activities.
We seem not to understand the extent of our influence in a state or across the country; the data on population growth by the UN or World Bank is focused on growth that will be occupied by vibrant youths. If the young people decide to boycott every social, economic or political activity in the country or state for 2 weeks or a month or more, you can imagine what drastic effect it will have on the economy. Businesses won’t be able to pay for tax and the campaign or widening tax net will be irrelevant and government revenue will drop. Inaction can carry the same weight that real action carries; it all depends on how we decide to use it.
The Policemen/ Security Operatives
Now in that unfortunate video there were police officers who were shielding the students from gaining access to the governor as he said things that were unpleasing to them as well. Yes unpleasing to them because some of them will have students in tertiary institutions too. How will they feel if after paying fees for their wards to be in school and get a good education that can enable get a better lot more than he had and a governor he is protecting comes to say such unpatriotic words?
There were other security operatives there too who definitely will have young people who are in school. Why then will such a person decide to manage hearing that statements but because he is under the government’s employ or governor’s itinerary he decides to be docile about it? How unfortunate can that be?
I have seen a situation where a governor who owes workers for about nine months calls his workers together and announces that he will pay for 3 months and workers are rejoicing to the point of singing for him. If you ask me that is a self-esteem that is affected by level of know-how (not knowing their skill worth), not knowing their democratic rights, being unaware of their civic rights and not realizing that a government should fear their citizens not the other way round.
Friends we need a total re-orientation that will spur citizens to action against a government that is not only clueless but also irresponsive and irresponsible with dealing with what affects us. We gave them the power to manage the franchise that is called Nigeria and we expect them to deal with it like a profit and loss affair and the former is what we want. If a manager or business executive is not able to handle the affairs of a company to break-even and make profit, he is shown the way out without waiting for his tenure to expire. That too should be applicable in government.
Is not as if it is their private businesses or companies; even a Henry Ford and a Steve Job were shown the way out of the company they started.
Those police officers still don’t know their worth as citizens which is why they can be there and still defend a man that derides young people old enough to be their children. Maybe there is a commitment or oath of allegiance that says those who work with elected officials should never revolt and if there is then it will be a torment of the conscience of those who really care and know when these leaders are wrong.
If these security officials decide to boycott their duties in protest of such activities by leaders without caring about the tips they get; then you will see the difference that will make especially when they (leaders) know they have been put in harm’s way.
A revolution does not require a gun or violence to take effect; the tool of inaction, negligence, boycott can prove to be greater forces than putting a knife to their necks. All we need is to reach a compromise and decide the approach we want to adopt and leave the rest to history. You will see these overlords calling themselves leaders shiver to their bone marrows; or you think they don’t fear despite the many police escorts. Their fears can be felt if you are close enough.
The Press/Media/New Media
At the scene of that video were press men and women who probably made a video of that governor that has gone viral and this also is in addition to the millions that are on social who one way or the other have condemned it. Whether we believe it or not, the young generation holds the key to how the new media works; we are more engaged on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram than any other generation before us. We understand the dynamics and how it can be used far beyond making funny clips.
What stops us from taking needed action? Social media engagement as much as it is online should not stop online; it can be taken offline too in so many ways. The UN and AU have charters that highlight how much should be budgeted for education, child rights and everyone’s right to an education. The governor by telling them that he is not the one that closed their school (which happens to be a state university) has defaulted in not budgeting for education because the strike most likely will be caused by staff unpaid salaries.
We can take our 140 character engagement on twitter and bring to various groups that have the power to force the governor to do the needful rather than abuse the office he swore an oath to defend and protect and also to do what benefits the people of Oyo State.
This is the first major piece from a book that will be titled; THE NEEDED REVOLUTION IN NIGERIA. We hope it will inspire action in the direction of its title.
Okegbemi Olusoji Festus is an Editor/Creative writer at campustori.com, A digital media Executive and a known Social Media Enthusiast.