Lagos lawmaker slams Unilag authorities over students’ protest



Mr Lanre Ogunyemi, the Chairman, Lagos State House of Assembly Committee on Education, has urged authorities of the University of Lagos to be more proactive in resolving issues affecting students.

Ogunyemi told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Lagos that the leadership of tertiary institutions should always employ constructive engagement in dealing with students’ problems.

He spoke against the backdrop of last week’s Unilag students’ protest over lack of water and power supply for several days, forcing students to buy satchet water which sold for between N150 and N200 per bag to bath.

This led to the closure of the institution by its Senate on April 8, few days to their first semester examinations.

Ogunyemi said the management of higher institutions of learning should always engage students’ representatives on welfare matters instead of waiting for issues to get out hands and snowballing into protests and crises.

“The management of institutions of higher learning must ensure swift and spontaneous reactions and solutions to problems of students.

“They should not allow issues to snowball into agitations that will lead to destruction of school properties.

“Most of our institutions need to strengthen their engagements or communication process with students.

“There should not be any draconian approach to it because the management is there because students are there.

“Unilag needs to be more proactive in resolving issues that affect students,” he told NAN.

According to the lawmaker, if the school administrators can manage their children at home, they should be able to manage the students regardless of whatever youthful exuberance they may exhibit.

Ogunyemi, who urged students to desist from any form of violence in getting the authorities to meet their demands, said act of violence by students could not resolve any issue, rather it would aggravate it.

He said:“Violence in whatever form is an ill-wind that blows nobody any good and the aftermath of violence can be very unpredictable.

“It can result in loss of lives, destruction of property and we have seen such happening in most of our institutions.

“It is not the best way of sorting out issues and I will never encourage it.”

On the ban slammed on student unionism in some institutions, Ogunyemi said: “Regardless of the excesses of students, the way to address it is not to ban them as such a step can widen the gap between students and the management.

“The solution is meaningful engagement and management must not be reluctant to engage these students no matter what sacrifice it may cause them.

“They (students) are also human beings and not animals; they can also be reasonable sometimes and I think the management needs to be more diplomatic and much more subtle in their approach.”

The lawmaker urged Unilag authorities to provide alternative environment-friendly sources of power and water supply for students and staff as one of the “leading universities’’ in the country.

NAN also reports that Unilag students had on April 7 shunned lectures and other academic activities and also staged a peaceful protest following power outage and non-supply of water in the institution.

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