On Friday, February 17, 2017, information regarding a university-wide protest, to be demonstrated by refusal to board commercial motorcycles, or any form of transport, was circulated throughout the university. On Monday, February 20, 2017, In response to the circulated information about the refusal to hire commercial transport, thousands of the students of the Federal University, Oye-Ekiti trekked the kilometers to the university premises for lectures from their various homes in Oye town, Ekiti State.
The cause of the reverse from the norm stemmed from the fact that students of the university were unsatisfied, and downright displeased with the ever-increasing price of the popular commercial two-wheeled transport, and that of cabs and tri-cycles. A group of students sent out a notification on the various WhatsApp groups at departmental levels, informing students not to “take bike” in the coming week. It is uncertain at the time of the compilation of this report if there were threats of violence attached to the university-wide notification, but in a show of agreement, thousands of students trooped en-masse from the town to the university premises.
In what could probably be said to be a fortunate coincidence, there started an uprising by a group of students on the university premises. By mid-morning, classes had been disrupted, lecturers were forced to stop their lectures, and eventually, were evicted from lecture halls. Students had congregated in the roads of the university in what was to be the first signs of a student protest: the first of its kind by the students of the university.
In the weeks prior to this event, there had been murmurings in the circles of students about the mass dissatisfaction with the affairs of the university. A situation that no staff or member of the university administration was visibly taking steps to stop. Not for lack of trying on the part of the student representatives at departmental and faculty levels. The major issues being the fact that the university had not the resources and infrastructure to cater for the needs of the growing population of students, inadequate and ill-equipped lecture rooms, unconducive teaching and learning conditions, high tuition fees, considering the fact that it is a Federal University. There were clamourings for a Student Union Government (SUG) president, but the “brains” of the university were adamant and refused to take action.
Click here to watch a short clip of students protesting.
In response to the chants of students in the streets, the Vice-Chancellor of the university came to the site of the protest to reassure students of their “intended” plans for the rectification of the major infrastructural deficiencies in the school but his words fell on deaf ears. Protesting students procured the services of a DJ who played songs like “Kolewerk” and “Cause Trouble”, which were popular and well liked, but were in obvious disagreement with the conventions of the speaking officials.
There were reports of arrests of students – doing things that were within their rights – made by security officials who were displeased with what they were doing. These arrests were later reported to have been eventually nullified by university officials seemingly based on the notion that “you don’t arrest the people you’re trying to appease!” Or maybe it was just their morality!
Eventually, the vice chancellor and other officials held a closed door meeting with members of the various student representative bodies of the university, the results of which have not yet been made public knowledge. Also, a group of students met with the governing body of the transportation associations to discuss and negotiate transportation prices that favour all parties, but no conclusions were reached.
It is currently unconfirmed, but it seems there will be another meeting between students and transport associations on Wednesday. But as things stand, the trekking continues and there possibly will be another protest tomorrow.
We will keep you in the know of the happenings in FUOYE.