By Taiwo Okanlawon
Student unrest has become a common phenomenon in Nigerian universities since the country attained independence but we can trace its manifestation to pre-1960, the colonial era.
Since the independence, the occurrence has come to be a constant socio-political problem in Nigerian history. In recent times, however, student unrests have acquired national scale that they pose serious threats to the national security.
Today, in Nigeria, students’ militancy in the our institutions is seen as one of the most visible perpetual problems of significance when compared with other social vices in Nigeria institutions like campus cult activities, cases of examination malpractices, and drug abuse and addiction.
As a victim of student’ rioting, I can tell that the incidence has done untold damage and hardship to the students themselves, parents, the institutions as well as the general public.
This phenomenon is so high that educationists and concerned bodies are compelled to investigate its root causes. The students’ unrest usually lead to mass destruction of institution properties, sustenance of serious injuries and in some cases loss of lives. Thus, bring aforementioned damage and hardship to concerned bodies.
The reasons for student unrest are not far to seek. They vary from non-participation in decision making, rising cost of tuition fees, religious intolerance, lack of facilities in educational institutional, inadequate health facilities, non-parallel communications between the authorities and students, cultism, indiscipline, external influence among others.
Going down memory lane, during my days in higher institution, I witnessed my first students’ conflict in The Polytechnic, Ibadan, Eruwa campus, now The Ibarapa Polytechnic, Oyo state. A final year student had complained of headache at the health centre, he was attended to and asked to come back the following day. Because of the severity of the illness, he was rushed to a private hospital in the middle of the night of the following day where he was pronounced dead.
When his death was announced on campus, The students went on the rampage and destroyed the health centre of the institution, claiming that the death of the student was caused by negligence on the part of the medical personnel that treated him.
The students protest went bloody when the school authorities invited police to contain the uproar but they vent more anger on the aggrieved students.
The whole health center was damaged, vehicles, lecture halls, lecturers’ offices and many more were damaged. It was later learnt that the protest was hijacked by some cultists and rusticated students.
The institution was shut down for about five weeks. Many students were injured in the protest. The school authorities at the end of their investigations found out the deceased died of typhoid. Many students were given extra year while some were expelled from the school as a result of the riot.
The wave of protest in Nigerian institutions that has become a household in government owned institutions has rapidly made its way into private institutions and reflects a growing frustration and anger at the continued financial and emotional maltreatment of students.
In 2014, the students of BOWEN University, Iwo, Osun state, embarked on first ever protest since the establishment of the University. The cause of the unwholesome activity was attributed to lack of basic services such as electricity and water supply at their hostels.
The unrest was a non-stop for two days. The students set offices, vehicles on fire and properties worth millions of Naira were destroyed. The action led to the closure of the school for months.
Hike in fees is another major factor for students’ unrest. On several occasions, students from the government owned institutions have protested against increase in fees by schools authorities.
The students’ unrest has caused more harm to our educational system and painted us in a bad picture across the globe.
Students take important part of our population, they are regarded as the country’s future if they follow good values, they will take the nation to the next level and free it from all social monsters.
To achieve this, there should be an effective and efficient flow of information between the school management and the students. The mechanism to determine any decision on students like school fees should involve the students’ representatives,so that what is agreed upon will reflect the interest of the students.
Also, institutions should make inclusion of moral values in the syllabus. The students should be taught in school.
Furthermore, every act of indiscipline done by the students has reason(s) due to which it is done. For example, sometimes the students go on strike if they are not satisfied with their faculty or the resources available to them. If the strike has a genuine reason behind it, then that reason should be cured. It is the duty of the officials in the institution to find the root cause behind the indiscipline created by the students and if that reason is genuine and curable, then it should be resolved on time.
The nature of the students is always mistaken. Most of the people think that the students, these days are filled with anger, attitude and ego. It is thought that the students have no interest in studying; they go to schools and colleges just to meet their friends and enjoy their time. Hmm! But this is not true for all the students. If some students are losing their interests in studying then it is not their fault only. It is the institution’s fault also. They lack the resources or the ability to put the students on the right track. If the students are not guided at the right stage, they will follow indiscipline.