Nothing bothers more than the incendiary strides of ill mores and insensitivity embraced by misguided youths especially in the citadel of learning. Insubordination thrives in the guise of activism and it saddens that we live in a society where institutions tolerate moral and intellectual weaklings opposed to cultural norms and social decency.
Olorunfemi Adeyeye, a “modern crusader of change” as it were, enjoyed cheap publicity for the wrong reason, having written an unmannerly post on a social media platform to demean the school management and Senate of the University of Lagos, UNILAG.
It was reported that the 400 level student of the Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Department of Building in UNILAG was rusticated for airing his sentiment; an incident labeled in some quarters as students’ victimization on the part of the University’s management.
These are trying times of harsh economic recession and inadequacies for Nigeria as a nation. Not even the educational sector is spared in this quagmire of which UNILAG, amongst other schools and tertiary institutions, is victim.
It is in view of this that reports have surfaced of appalling students’ welfare in various tertiary institutions. This goes without saying that aggrieved students have full justification under the law to plead their cases in a civilized manner with their school management under the aegis of the students’ unions. But when compromise stands afar off and students’ clamor for a favorable condition fall on deaf ears, is violence and vindictive word attack on social media the next point of action?
This is the 21st century where almost all societal misdemeanors are discussed and decided on social media and the required change for a greater good is attained. You would recall the hashtag #Ese Oruru incident, #FreeCiaxon in the case of Yusuf Siyaka Onimisi’s disappearance after being arrested for twelve days by military officers, and the initial #OccupyNigeria saga in 2012 where Nigerians from various walks of life protested against the increase of fuel price and the removal of fuel subsidy.
The impact of social media cannot be underestimated as it allows for social activism, and this in no small measure has changed the form in which the course of justice and social change is steered not just in Nigeria but in the world at large. But to violate its use by hoisting vindictiveness to attack someone’s personality would mean going right off the grill.
Undoubtedly, misunderstandings are bound to occur in various human institutions and everyone has the right to be angry and vent their opinions on several societal issues peculiar to them via any medium and on various social platforms as Twitter, Facebook, you name it. But there is always a line of linguistic tradition that mustn’t be crossed which Adeyeye evidently violated with his Facebook post: “The Senate of the University of Lagos; a Conglomeration of Academic Ignorami”.
Nothing in the name of activism justifies saying ‘The nation’s investment of knowledge on a University’s Vice Chancellor is a waste; and that his first class honours degree is the true definition of a Fiasco?’ If a youth could degenerate to a level as to say, ‘the irresponsibility, insensitivity and irresponsiveness to the welfare of the students by the VC and his ‘misMANAGEMENT’ have shown that they are all misfits when it comes to parenthood’, it only spells trouble for the crop of youths our society grooms for the future.
Without any form of persecution intended to the young lad, his action demonstrated a sheer lack of character, discipline and a blatantly misrepresentation of what true activism symbolizes. No enlightened and well cultured youth would ever call his elders and erudite scholars in the person of Prof. Rahmon Ade Bello and several UNILAG lecturers “Academic Ignoramuses!
This corroborates a Lagos State University lecturer’s, Prof. Sam Egwu, assertion that the decline of intellectual tradition and ideology are key issues affecting social activism in campuses today. “We have a generation of students who do not have the kind of orientation that students had in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. We need to return to the days of objective and intellectual activism and if we don’t do that, our society will be in trouble,” he said.
Hence, now is the time our schools have to educate students on the true values and importance of activism. Olorunfemi Adeyeye who couldn’t keep his wits about the poor treatment of students in his school is just one pitiable reflection of an execrable society. Yet, the use of foul language in his post is uncalled for and it’s highly denigrating to say “…all we asked for was water and light and all we could get from a sensible Senate is the threat of expulsion. Are there no “common sense” persons in the management anymore…”
In a piece titled: “Towards A Viable Language of Human Rights Activism in Nigeria”, Prof. Temitope A. Balogun opined that “one major key to successful activism is the use of humane style of language. Such language must have an adequate measure of respect, integrity and modesty, all reflective of the African culture.” And as far as language in activism is concerned, our youths must understand that its usage must be moderated on social media or anywhere else.
Dialogue is still the best method of resolving issues. Although, Adeyeye shows no remorse for his action (being of the blind opinion that he did what was right), rustication is rather a tough sentence on the part of the school management. A suspension could have sufficed but an outright dismissal from the institution might lure him into vicious ways of rascality and debacle to both his parents and to the society at large.
It is on this note I urge all concerned authorities especially, the Senate and VC of UNILAG to show leniency in this matter and consider the labours of parents whose son turned a blind eye to reason and deaf ears to discipline.
Conclusively, every youth must realize that “intelligence plus character is the goal of true education”, and in the words of C.S. Lewis, “education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.”