From Timothy Agbor/OSOGBO
About three years after student unionism was banned by the authorities of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State southwest Nigeria owing to students’ protest over hike of acceptance fee, the authorities have finally lifted the ban thus necessitating emergence of new student union executives.
The management through its Dean of Student Affairs, Mrs. L. Durosinmi constituted a transition committee to organize elections.
This transition committee according to the directions of the management constituted an electoral commissions that would usher in new halls of residence executives, faculty representatives council and central executives council for the student union.
The elections which were held on the campus on Thursday, 17th April, 2014, between 9am and 4pm were however successful and crisis-free. All the elections were held except the election for the chairman of most vibrant hall on campus, Awolowo hall as a result of the disqualification of the leading contestant popularly called Choco Milo by the institution authorities.
After the elections on Thursday, one of the seven presidential aspirants, Ibikunle won with 2,360 votes thus becoming the number one student on OAU campus. One of the female vice presidential aspirants, Olori also won with 2,457 votes.
The management prevented five students, including Anchor, vying for the vice presidential position and Oluwole Engels, a socialist student and member of the ERC, from participating in the elections.
The University management was said to have disqualified the five students owing to the roles they allegedly played during the struggle for the restoration of the union.
It would be recalled that the students union activities were banned in 2011 after students protested against increase of acceptance fees from N2, 000 to N20,000 and other anti-poor policies by the then Prof. Faborode led administration.
As the Prof. Faborode proscribed students’ union activities, his administration also allegedly rusticated more than 20 union activists while three union leaders including the then union president were rounded up and detained without any sensible allegation, for between four to seven months.
But the current administration of Prof. Bamitale Omole upon assumption of office has maintained this status quo. The current administration was alleged to have been sustaining the culture of fear by flooding the campus with secret security staff.
Most human right activists and students across the country have wondered why an institution known for vibrant unionism and bubbling student culture has become a ghost of its past glories ever since the management banned student unionism in the academic community.
After the election on Thursday, S.I Unit became the Secretary General with 1,809 votes, Hon. Louis won as Assistant Secretary General with 2,210 votes, Bamidele had 3,385 votes thus emerging as the Public Relations Officer (PRO), New Rain won with 2,320 votes as Social Director, H.O.D emerged as Sports Director with 2,415 votes, while Ojogbon became the Welfare Officer with 2,079 votes.
Meanwhile, a new breeze is currently blowing on the OAU campus as students are seen basking in the euphoria of the development. Most students expressed joy at the restoration of the student union and the emergence of its leaders.
The new exco members would be sworn-in next week and the institution would go back to its leading position in student unionism.