STUDENTS’ RIGHTS: MYTH OR REALITY?

DELIVERED IN REPRESENTATION OF THE FACULTY OF LAW AT THE 1ST SCOLA INTER-FACULTY ORATORY CONTEST ON APRIL 1,2016.

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To be or not to be. That was the question that bothered the mind of Young Hamlet in the day of Shakespeare. It is a question which has lingered in our hearts for centuries without an answer. But it is not our problem today. Today the question is – has it been or has it not. Students’ rights: a myth or a reality?

Ladies and gentlemen, speaking is Adebajo Adekunle Adefisayo, a representative of the faculty of law here to dance with my lips to the melodious question – student rights: a myth or a reality. Do students really have freedoms? And if they do, do they have them merely by a stretch of imagination or in the actual recognition of our dear nation?

You may ask – what do we speak of here. What even are students’ right? Well, students’ right is our right to attend classes and not have to leave home extra-early because the hall is not big enough. Students’ right is our right to peacefully express our grievance and not get served a hot meal of SDC letters. Students’ right is our right to an environment that is conducive for learning, where there is ventilation, whether from ACs or fans. And I do not mean hand fans. Ladies and gentlemen, it is our right to pay tuition and not have to struggle to pay attention while getting doses of education.

Kay Granger once said, ‘human rights are not a privilege granted by the few, they are a liberty entitled to all.’ And so, students have rights just like everyone else. But the point is; are we getting them like everyone else? For it is one thing to have a first class pedigree and it’s another to have a first class degree. It’s one thing to be eligible for bed space according to the porter and another to be eligible according to UI portal.

Fellow students, today’s topic calls to mind some agonising ironies in our world.

Do we have rights in reality? Yes we do. In the reality of section 295 of the Criminal Code which provides in clear terms that everyone above the age of sixteen may not be corrected by a blow or other force; and that excessive force shall not be used in any case. However, in the reality of NASU members, students are never too old to get a taste of the cane. In the reality of Professor O.M. Ndimele of the University of Port Harcourt, there is no wrong in tattooing the skin of students with parallel lines.

Do we have rights in reality? Yes, ladies and gentlemen. Yes we do. In the reality of section 36 of the constitution which guarantees for every person the right to fair hearing. But then in the reality of Almighty Student Disciplinary Committee, a student case is nothing but a case of two foxes and a sheep voting on what to have for breakfast. In the reality of our lecturers, you are not innocent until proven guilty. Rather you are guilty with no chance to prove your innocence.

Do we have rights in reality? Yes, we do. We do in the reality of the case of Garba & Ors v University of Maiduguri where the Supreme Court held that the expelled students were not granted justice by the university. But what we find in the reality of the school? We find numerous miscarriages of justice and somersaults of fairness as we found again two days ago in the case of MOTE & Ors v. the SDC. One wonders if the Disciplinary Committee itself has discipline. One wonders if it is even a committee or a martial court.

Friends, the rights of students sometimes is like a dancing mirage which dances energetically in the pages of our laws and on the tongue of our leaders; but which never gives an harvest of laughter. When it comes to our rights, our politicians and professors have a high blood pressure of vocal expression but an anaemia of profitable actions. Our rights are the cars which ferry Student Union leaders to their coveted offices during elections. But after elections? After elections, we will hear that there is hike in fuel price and so this car can no longer move. We hear that the bank of justice has been robbed and is bankrupt. We hear that the buttery of impartiality and welfarism has caught fire. Ladies and gentlemen, we hear all kinds of things.

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When I saw the topic, what came to my mind was – how can we reduce something as fundamental as fundamental human rights to the fabulous tales of Ijapa tiroko oko yanibo? How can we reduce it to the fantastic legends of the seeker? Why should we have to doubt and debate whether or not we have rights? Why do we even need SCOLA to advocate vehemently for our rights? Why? Well, I’ll tell you why. We need them not because our rights are a myth or a reality. We need them because our rights are a myth in reality.

Malcolm X once said; nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a man, you take it. And so, ladies and gentlemen, greatest Nigerian students, if you want to see your rights in 3D and not just on paper. If you want freedom, you must take it. If you want victory, you must struggle – why because as we all know; aluta continua victoria ascerta.

THUGGERY: A SILENT THREAT TO PEACE IN NIGERIA

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THIS IS AN ORATORY PRESENTED AT THE GROUP STAGE, LITERARY AND DEBATING SOCIETY (UI) IN-HOUSE SPEAKING CHAMPIONSHIP.

DATE: February 7, 2014.

THUGGERY: A SILENT THREAT TO PEACE IN NIGERIA

In 2003, the policemen in Anambra state shot dead four persons, just because the driver conveying them refused to offer them gratification.

In December 2010, violence erupted in Plateau state, in which victims, including children, were hacked to death, burned alive, kidnapped, dragged off buses and murdered, leaving more than 200 people dead.

Again, In April 2011, we also witnessed the ‘post-election-violence’ in Northern Nigeria, which after 3 days, according to Human Rights Watch, left more than 800 people dead.

Apart from these, many a time too, we hear of 7-year-olds, 8-year-olds, 9-year-olds, being defiled by persons old enough to be their Great-grand-father.

What is common to all these events: Hooliganism, Gangster-ism, racketeering, violence and thuggery! Sadly, they have all become deeply woven into the great fabric called the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

We live with them every single day of our lives. We see their corollaries on the news on an hourly basis. We go to our schools and work-places not with the fear of God but in the fear of thugs. No single protest takes place without it been hijacked by scallywags. No single election holds without us recording death tolls to the tune of hundreds of souls.

It is so disheartening that thuggery is not only found amongst the unemployed, illiterates and youthful. We also see its traces in the police force. The police which are supposedly responsible for safeguarding the populace are the ones we find battling with the army, harassing and, in fact, slaying the people at the slightest opportunity. We see its traces in the parliament. The parliament, ideally the assembly of best intellectuals in a state, in Nigeria, is nothing but a gathering of professional boxers. We see its traces in the academia and university environment. An environment famous for civility and erudition is in Nigeria, infamous for cultism and intimidation. Students are not, therein, educated but instead, masticated.

The heart-breaking truth is that the youths are the main tools and instruments of turbulence and instability in this nation. That is why I have come to this stage, on this occasion, to deliver this talk; with the hope that we when we get to the crossroads of history, when we reach the moment of truth, we will choose civility and moderation above thuggery.

Let it be known that: When next you ‘sag’ your pants, know you are an inch closer to thuggery. When next you raise your voice on others, know you are an inch closer to savagery. When next you use curse-words, when next you abuse drugs, when next you assault another creature, remember the interest of this great nation. And please take a step backward.

The motto of this Nation says: Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress. Meaning if we are disunited enough to fight against one another, and intimidate one another, engaging in despicable acts of thuggery, there will naturally be no peace. And in a place where peace is inexistent, progress is a far cry as well.

From my years of research, I have made a discovery that wherever it is we have larceny, debauchery and thuggery; it is a matter of inevitability that there shall be misery, instability and insecurity. For us to make a recovery from this malady, we have to do that which is not only necessary but mandatory. We have to shun thuggery and embrace unadulterated harmony.

Friends, Let us put an end to thuggery before thuggery puts an end to us!

Thank you.

MULTIPLE PARTY SYSTEM IS BETTER THAN BI-PARTY SYSTEM FOR THE NIGERIAN POLITICAL ARENA

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THIS IS A DEBATE PRESENTED AT UCJ’S 2ND FRANCIS EGBOKHARE INTER-PRESS DEBATE COMPETITION

TOPIC: 

MULTIPLE PARTY SYSTEM IS BETTER THAN BI-PARTY SYSTEM FOR THE NIGERIAN POLITICAL ARENA

 DURATION: 3 MINUTES.

DATE: 31ST OF JANUARY, 2014.

VENUE: GAMALIEL ONOSODE’S SEMINAR  ROOM, MELLANBY HALL, UI.

Joseph Joubert said, ‘it is better to debate a question without settling it, than to settle a question without debating it.’

Greetings, Ladies and Gentlemen. Adebajo Adekunle is my name. And I am here, on this august occasion, as an ambassador of the Mellanby Hall Press Organisation.

I will be speaking in defence of the submission: Multiple Party System Is Better Than Bi-Party System For The Nigerian Political Arena.

So what is my justification for holding this conviction.

First and foremost, the multiple party system does not limit the voters’ choice. Voters are given a wide range of candidates to choose from in line with the ideals of democracy, liberty and justice. As aptly summarised in the words of Thomas Sowell, ‘the most basic function of government is to provide a framework of law and order, within which the people are free to choose.’ Ladies and Gentlemen, do we call it freedom when you are asked to choose between Starcomms and MTN? Do we call it freedom when you are offered admission only at Igbinedon university and University of Maiduguri? Do we call it freedom when you are given scholarship to study either in Syria or Somalia? Do we call it freedom when you can only choose between two political parties? When you are compelled to pick ‘the lesser’ out of two evils? When we can actually choose the best out of many ‘goods’. No we do not call it freedom! Why? Because Pars libertatis est non liberum, partial freedom is no freedom at all.

Secondly and in addendum, the two party system and Autocracy, dictatorship and totalitarianism are sons of the same mother. This assertion has anchorage and is substantially validated in a scenario that played out in the first republic of Ghana, when the late President Kwame Nkrumah used the Preventive Detention Act to arrest and detain members of the Opposition United Party, leading to the gradual dismantling of the opposition, and virtually turning Ghana into a one-party state.

Finally, the multiple party system is natural, legal and recognised by the constitution of this country, which states in Section 40 that: ‘every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular, he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests.

To conclude, all I am saying, my elite addressees, is that to have just two political parties in a political entity such as this will only, as a matter of certainty and inevitability, cast the political arena of the country into a governmental instability, administrative despondency and electoral melancholy. Nigeria is a multi-lingual, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-tribal, multi-dimensional, multi-directional, multi-faceted, multi-racial, multi-purpose, multi-vocal, and multitudinous nation. Tell me, what better party system will suit our political arena, if not the multi-party system?

I rest my case!

THE RECENT INDUSTRIAL ACT EMBARKED UPON BY ASUU: WHO IS TO BLAME, ASUU OR FG?

BEING A DEBATE PRESENTED AT THE 2ND PROFESSOR FRANCIS EGBOKHARE UCJ INTER-PRESS DEBATE.

VENUE: MELLANBY HALL SCR, UNIVERSITY OF IBADAN

DATE: JANUARY 24, 2014.

 

 

PREAMBLE.

Truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it. Ignorance may deride it. But in the end, there it is – Sir Winston Churchill.

Greetings, Ladies and Gentlemen, standing before you is Adebajo Adekunle and I am representing the Mellanby Hall Press Organisation.

I am here on this occasion to address the resolution which says, ‘the recent industrial act embarked upon by ASUU, who is to blame, ASUU or FG?’

I remember it as if it were yesterday. On a Monday afternoon, while in ENG 112 class, the lecturer declared to our chagrin and dismay that the class will not be holding. Why? The Academic Staff Union Of Universities had suddenly decided to embark on a total, complete and indefinite strike action. About 1.5 million Nigerian Youths, university undergraduates, were forcefully exiled to their mothers’ homes between Monday, July 1st and Tuesday, December 17th. For 6 months, equivalent to 170 days [or if you like 244,800 minutes] we were very busy at home, doing absolutely nothing related to academics.

Graduation years were unjustly delayed. We even witnessed the adjournment of wedding dates. Scholarships worth millions of naira became a waste. and most sadly of all, some, who while trying to make ends meet, passed away. So, I ask, who are we to blame?

Seneca once said; it is rash to condemn where you are ignorant. Meaning we cannot constructively evaluate what we do not critically appreciate. The recent ASUU strike had a genesis. In fact, It had a basis which we must all figure out before a move can be made for scrutiny and finger-pointing. Thus, I ask. What is this basis?

On the 14th of December 2006, the then Minister of education, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili, on behalf of the federal government, inaugurated the Federal Government/ASUU re-negotiation committee with the aim of looking into the union’s  clamouring for a revitalisation of the academia. It held series of meetings between the years of 2007 and 2008; and in January 2009, came up with a 51-page Memorandum of Understanding, duly signed and considered binding on the parties.

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS TO BLAME.

It might be argued that: since the federal government was not present in the meetings in which the what, where, when and how of the industrial strike were discussed, then we should not hold them accountable for a decision they had no hand in making.

However, as a student of logic, I know of the fallacious genre called ‘non causa pro causa’ (false cause), which holds that the immediate cause is not always the culpable cause, but the pristine, prototypical one. And as a student of law, I equally know that ‘metus in lege excusat’ (duress in law excuses). I may use my hands to murder another person, and yet go scot free, if I was under duress to do it or it was in self-defence. The same common-sense is applicable to the recent industrial strike, as I believe the union was under duress to embark on strike due to the lackadaisical attitude of their yearnings.

How exactly the union was directly under duress by FG to go on strike leads to my second point. Nigeria is a country where, according to all ranking systems, none of our universities is among the world’s top 1000. Even our dear University of Ibadan which prides itself as the first and the best is number 24 in Africa and 2109 in the world. Nigeria is a country where ward councillors, who may be secondary school drop-outs, earn more than diligent professors. A country where you will never find the children of your local government chairman in the same school as you. Where 10 classes may hold simultaneously in the same lecture hall. Where kerosene stoves are used by science students in lieu of Bunsen burners. Where our education system is only getting better at getting worse … and someone still has the nerve to say that the Federal Government is not blameworthy of making protest inevitable?  That ASUU ought not to have gone on strike?

Think about it. Ghana, a country not as rich as Nigeria, for this fiscal year, budgeted 31% of its total revenue to the education sector, while the “Giant of Africa” struggles to budget a meagre and disconcerting 8%.

Lastly but most importantly, Common sense and natural justice demand that FG executes the 2009 pact, and not wait for a strike. The Federal Government wilfully made a pact with ASUU in 2009, refreshed it 2012, and yet inconsiderately failed to execute it several years later. This is simply ludicrous, and blatantly contravenes common standards of professional ethics. Just as it is summed up in the Latin maxim, ‘pacta sunt servanda, quamvis absurdum.’ Meaning, agreements must be kept, contracts must be honoured, though they may be absurd.

To conclude, I’d say, it is visible to the blind and audible to the deaf that the Federal Government is to blame for the regrettable and demoralising strike saga we witnessed last year. For in Marcus Tullius Cicero’s words, ‘salus populi suprema lex esto’, the welfare of the people is to be the supreme law. Hence, the federal government has the duty, primary responsibility, and in fact the capability to provide for the socio-academic necessities of the community. If they fail in this regard, someone has to speak up, as well-captured in the words of Edmund Burke: ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.All ASUU has done is speak up. Are we going to crucify them for this?

Ladies and Gentlemen, if we are truly seeking for someone to blame, then I say it is only rational that we blame the man who had no shoes, and his cohorts.

Thank you!

 

 

ASUU IS TO BLAME!

First and foremost, ASUU’s demands are out rightly outrageous. Reading this memorandum, I came across some of the most ridiculous demands ever in the history of unionism. For instance, the unionists are clamouring for a plethora of unrealistic and undeserved allowances. Postgraduatesupervision allowance, teachingpractice/fieldtrip allowance, examiners’ honoraria, postgraduatestudy grant, Externalassessors’ allowance. Apart from these, they are also demanding for what they call fringe benefits. Vehiclerefurbishing loan, housing loan… research leave, sabbatical leave, annual leave, sick leave and maternity leave. I wonder if we will still have people to teach us if all these leaves are granted. How can a reasonable man down his tools, his main source of income, because of allowances. Allowance is allowance, not the main wage.

The music maestro, Stephen Osita Osadebe, in one of his hits said, ‘if one’s salary is not enough to meet his needs, is it allowance that will do?’ It is unthinkable that the payment of paltry sums is allowed to disrupt academic activities for several months. Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill.

Again, the ASUU/FG fracas should have been buried in previous strikes. One thing ASUU has failed to recognise is that incessant striking is not the solution to Nigeria’s educational drawback. In fact, it is one of the problems. Industrial acts are so frequent that non-Nigerians are forced to think it is an annual festival. And then, freshers are always sermonised that the years they are to spend in the university is ‘n + x’. ‘n’ being the years written in JAMB brochure while ‘x’ is the unknown, the added years as a result of strikes… Imagine, 5 months in 1999, 3 months in 2001, 6 months in 2003, 3 months in 2007, 4 months in 2009, 5 months, 1 week in 2010, 3 months in 2011, and the most recent 6 month strike, to mention a few. They all culminate into almost 3 years, yet what is there to show for it? Except, of course, more decay in the system.

Moreover, I believe ASUU has no moral standing whatsoever to embark on a strike with so much audacity. Before they start point fingers at the FG and accusing them of dereliction of duty, have they looked within. Or have we not seen lecturers who come for classes only twice in a semester? Once to give out scheme of work, and the second time to invigilate the examination. Have we not seen lecturers who use lecture notes compiled in the 1970s for students in 2014?

Last but not least, the union has no right whatsoever to disrupt the free flow of academic activities to the students’ detriment. Sir Oliver Wendell Holmes Jnr once said, ‘Your right to swing your arms ends where another man’s nose begins.’ And in Latin, ‘Tuus ius finibus ubi alterum incipit.’ You cannot take another man’s life because YOU are tired of living. Neither can you say because the constitution guarantees freedom of expression, you now slander another man with impunity. Thus, the Academic Staff Union Of Universities has no right to deprive students of their entitlement to be edified, no matter the circumstance.

No matter what is done, the 200 billion naira Federal Government handed over for the restructuring of the academia and 45 billion given as lecturers’ earned allowance, can never restore or equate with the thousands of long hours wasted in inactivity. It cannot restore the delayed graduation years, and weddings. And most particularly, it can never bring back the invaluable, lost souls.

I end with the sagacious words of Demosthenes, ‘res ipsa loquitur’; the facts speak for themselves… IF ONLY WE WILL LISTEN.

Thank you!

 

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WHO IS THE JUDGE?

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“Who is the judge?

The judge is God.

Why is he God?

Because He decides who wins or loses not my Opponent.

Who is your Opponent ?

He does not exist.

Why doesn’t he exist?

Because he is a mere dissenting voice of the truth I speak !”