When a group of persons comes together with the purpose of achieving a goal, government or managerial policies may interfere with the set goals, thereby causing inconsistencies and incongruent alignment between group expectations and policies.
When this happens, the last resort to get back on track may be protest or strikes, intended to mount pressure and ensure that management/government rescind their decision and realign with the group.
A strike is refusal to work by an organized body of employees as a form of protest, typically in an attempt to gain a concession or concessions from their employer.
Protest on the other hand is a public expression of disagreement, disapproval, objection or dissent towards a policy, action or idea, in this case – in a University system.
A protest in the students’ view is a tool – the last C of the Aluta – used to pressure management to listen to the needs of the students community. This is often done with a view to the welfarism of the students’ community. Protests can take many different forms, from students’ bodies statements to mass demonstrations.
Unfortunately, the protest that students usually used – as the last C of the Aluta struggle – to force management to renege on unwanted policies oftentimes turned uncontrollable and disastrous.
When planning a protest, students often do all they can to ensure the protest is peaceful. This is to avoid managerial claims on the students that may arise as a result of consequent/attendant damages.
But previous cases and pockets of protests here and there had proved that it is very hard to totally control protests in Amassoma for the following reasons:
1. Protests brings out the animal in students
Everyone seems to be carried away with the show of power. Protest actually gives students the notion of power over management. And as you know it, power corrupts. The idea of trying to tell management that power does not lie in one place may make students turn violent and sometimes very extremely.
In January 2016, during the MPC Law riots, the 100 and 200 level Engine boys actually portray this tendency when they stoned the Main Campus Security house in my presence. Just one stone started it. And before you knew it, stones upon stones. Only one stone would bring a 100 applause and so, it went on and on.
While this was going on, the security men had nicodemusly removed their uniform and blend with the members of the students’ community. In any case, it is generally hard to control students’ protest.
2. Infiltration that makes peaceful protest difficult
The rift-rafts, the scoundrels, the never-do-wells, the criminals, the aggrieved, the opposition and the never-to-be-pleased all come individially or together to infiltrate the students’ protest. Most of the protests that went peaceful, e.g., the school fees increment protest of April, 2018, student leaders actually protected the box of protester’s movement. This was to avoid infiltration. Others went destructive and students actually paid dearly.
3. Payment of Damages
When students went on protest but cannot protect the action from destruction, they give management the edge to actually fine them for damage. The popular MPC riot of January, 2016 is a very glaring case that if students went on protest and damage even just one car, management will estimate millions to have been destroyed. And the students’ community pays. There is no court you will go to that you will win this type of case because damage claims with proof is supported by the court.
4. Loss of academic time
Nearly all protest leads to loss of academic time. For instance, the MPC Law protest led management to enforce temporary closure of the university for two weeks, two days from 19th February, 2016 till 7th March, 2016.
The school fees protest of April, 2018 also brought about loss of months of academic time. NDU was at the verge of losing a session before the Sammy’s administration invented series of administrative policies that are responsive to the university’s perculiar challenges and consequent needs. These policies include no in-semestry holidays, where students enter first semester holidays on a Friday and resume second semester on a Monday (just a weekend break). The defunct/failed concurrent semesters, constricted academic semesters, etc.
5. Economic woes for the local community
When students go on protest and management can no longer control it, it may enforce school closure until normalcy returns. During this time, as a student sponsored community, businesses dwindled, students leave the community and economic activities dies by the day. This brings a lot of hunger for local businesses. In the past, many families have been forced to leave Amassoma because of hunger and inability to hold on without viable and dependable income.
6. Delayed graduation time
Sometimes, protest turn out to be the case where we make a proverb: “witch wen kill him mama, na himself him do”. Protest oftentimes turns against students. When in a four year programme, you protested 2-3 times with a total of 6 months delay, this may delay students’ graduation time. Hence, when colleagues elsewhere are graduating, one may still be in school entering final year. When final year students sees their counterparts going for NYSC mobilization, the experience can be heartbreaking.
7. Disoriented brains
When you actually leave school and remain at home for months, as you resume, you may not even remember your matriculation number. Even your programme of study, some have to think well or in some cases, look at documents before you will remember the programme you are studying in school. If this is happening, what then can we say of books. That side is a no-go area. You have to spend weeks reading and recollecting ideas and points. This is very detrimental to the students.
8. Deaths of unlucky students
Protest sometimes leads to death of the unlucky ones in many ways. For instance, the Amassoma/Government clash which was as a result of worker’s sack and school fees saga in 2018 actually led to loss of lives in the comunity. Again, if school is closed and students goes home and engaged in economic activities, there has been pockets of death news from some of these students. The last case was a report of 2018 school fees protest where a log fell on a student who went for log work in the bush.
9. Defacing of the University
When building are left unattended for some time, the environment is defaced. Tall grasses, wearing wall paints, overgrowing trees, students’ records/documents getting foggy in various offices, etc. and many more are some of the things that happens while students are away.
Everyone, especially admission seekers and students who must have been at home for sometime actually wants to be in school. Now in school for a while, home is calling again – you wish to go back home. Then at home, boredom calls and you miss school again. When students are at home for long, boredom may set in and they want to go back to school. The nearly one year at home during the 2020 pandemic lockdown actually taught students lessons. Nearly everyone got tired.
So, these are the issues you must consider. The freshers are the worst hit. Provide them with wrong information and make management look bad and you have succeeded in winning them over. They are the hitmen. Destroyers of properties. They hardly care. Lets just die here today. They will so teach management a lesson – unknowingly all to their detriment.
So next time you want to start a protest, consider these issues before you engage. One thing I have observed is that many students are actually wrongly dragged into wrongdoing. Only later they will realize themselves. So, learn more before you join any protest if it is worthwhile or not.