Students of the University of Ibadan (UI) trooped out in their hundreds on Thursday to protest the failure of the school management to supply water and electricity on the school campus.
The protest, which started early in the morning, was initially peaceful as the students refrained from closing the gates to the university. It, however, later took a violent dimension when the protesters attempted to picket their colleagues, who wanted to avoid participation and go for their classes instead.
The protestors forced their colleagues out of classes and frustrated movement of vehicles and motor bikes within the campus. They also prevented any form of electronic coverage of the action. One student, who dared to prove deviant to the rule, was given the beating of his life.
Carrying placards with inscriptions critical of the authorities, the students vowed to go on with the protest until the management takes action to address the problem at hand.
The premier university has been suffering from epileptic power supply in the recent times. This has, in turn, affected water supply to hostels and other parts of the community. Hundreds of students who participated in yesterday’s demonstration ensured that all activities in the school were paralysed.
They did not just close the school access gates; they locked them up with padlocks and went away with keys to make movement of people and vehicles in and out of the campus impossible.
In areas where there are no gates, the students stationed some of their members to block such exits in order to prevent free flow.
Addressing his colleagues, Tokunbo Salako, president of the Student’s Union of the institution, explained that the leadership of the students had held a meeting with the vice chancellor (VC), Isaac Adewole, who told them that he and his team are helpless about the development.
He added that the VC said the university is only sharing from the burden of lack of electricity and poor water supply which is affecting the entire nation.
But Mr Salako asked the school authority to address the lopsidedness in electricity rationing in the campus which has made some parts to enjoy more hours of supply at the expense of others. He cited the example of Kuti, Jaja and Tedda halls, which are very close to the administrative block of the institution as enjoying more stable electricity supply than Independence and Idia halls, where power is often available for only an average of three hours daily.
Student united for power
The students met later in the day, this generated fears in some quarters that they might mobilise to the office of the Power Holdings Company of Nigeria (PHCN) to vent their anger.
Joke Akinpelu, the university’s public relations officers (PRO), who spoke with journalists on the incident, noted that the institution was grossly disappointed with the students. She explained that the VC spent about two hours with the students leadership on Wednesday to explain the challenges the institution is facing on providing electricity to the community.
“The UI has spent up to N200 million in the last six months to address the issue,” she said, adding that though the Federal Government provides N16m for monthly overhead cost, the university spent N20 million on diesel alone in May.
She also denied the allegation that the VC told the students that whoever feels bad about the situation should go home.
“Can a VC who spent over two hours explaining situation to them do that?” She asked.
Mrs Akinpelu stressed the commitment of the university towards creating a conducive and convenient environment for study, praying for the understanding of the students.