Over the past decade, especially from 2016 in NDU and 2019 in FUO till date, I have studied how managerial policies have created chaos amongst students while the respective management tend to form deaf ears to the possibility for a foreseeable disorder. Respective managements often set policies that do not conform with the natural state of studentship, hence constituting a time bomb that would explode someday, somehow.

Time-bomb policies here refer to laws either old or new, put in place to guide university’s operations. Paramount amongst these is the permanent closure of school fees portal – requesting students to leave school or suspend/defer their studies/admission, permanent closure of courses enrolment portal, elongated ban of students’ unionism, playing politics with students’ career, imposed suspension of studies, admission withdrawal for lack of school fees payment, increasing cost of school fees without corresponding economic responsiveness and managerial utterances that pushes students into avoidable wrong doing. While the list can go on, it will suffice to stop here for now.

These policies, no matter how long they stay unopposed, will someday result to chaos and disorder in an academic setting because soon enough, students get tired of them and express themselves through protest. Currently, the school of Post-Graduate Studies, Niger Delta University have started again. The school held that any student who is unable to register their courses and create their files before 18th of October, 2021 has forfeited their admission. The sms sent to the PG students states that those who forfeit their admission should revalidate their admissions for the new 2021/2022 academic session upon which application is still on.

By implication, if you have paid PG school fees both first and second semester, paid PG charge, acceptance, form fee, medicals, course enrolment, clearance certificate, but failed to open file, not that you are owing any fee; while you are done with your course work of first and second semester, hoping to commence your thesis; the PG office is now saying that you should go back and start first semester again. Probably start paying school fees again. Does the PG office recall that this is what cause the recent protest? Is management calling for another wave of protest? 

Whenever I am pressed to the wall and could not comprehend these policies, I just console myself that probably management needed robust information on how ICT registration actually works with the nature of studentship in mind. Portals should only be restricted for a time with petty disadvantages to push students to pay and register. Inability to register or pay fees should not be an avenue to deny students of a lifelong career aspiration.

If we are to ask management team if management under them now is school looks like in their time as students, I believe their reply would not be forthwith.

Then on to Federal University, Otuoke (FUO). The FUO have seemed to towed the path of the NDU in recent times. We have come across news of FUO students begging management to allow them more time to register courses. Just in 2020/2021, students’ admission were about to be withdrawn due to inability to pay fees. This is a supposed Federal University.

Further, as this report is being constructed, FUO students are still protesting against its Dean of Students’ Affairs who told them to go and commit suicide and die. You see? Sometimes, I feel management is not normal at all. First was NDU mid this year to whom the VC told that “even if heaven falls, the school fees portal will not be opened again” Sure the students did not allow heaven to fall, they forced it opened. Now it is the turn of FUO. These are managerial instigated situations that naturally create room for chaos in a University. Unfortunately, the students will still be the one to be termed ‘unruly’ when they react.

Let it be clarified for the sake of stakeholders who often come in to meddle in issues between students and management, students’ protests and riots are not indications of students’ unruliness but tools used to curtail managerial excesses as the students continue to agitate and serve as a watchdog to time-bomb management policies. 

Consequences of Time-Bomb Policies

The consequences of time bomb policies are certain – protest, riots, unrest, disorder, closure of school and possibly destruction of lives and properties. Managerial actions have resulted in several negative consequences in the past. All such actions and their corresponding consequences will be detailed in a subsequent post.

The truth remains however, that you cannot eat your cake and have it. Negative policies will surely lead to protest. It has to be rejected and rebuffed before it becomes the order of the day. Management sometimes have to see things from the other perspective. Using only managerial challenges to make policies often lead to one-sided policies that are inconsiderate

Way Forward

To avoid policies that will create protest either now or in the future, management must learn to reconsider its policies before implementation. The principle of collective bargaining must be applied to ensure wide acceptability amongst the students.

Inability to pay school fees or register courses MUST not be a criteria to suspend studies nor to be denied admission. Since these schools are government funded schools, I believe people should be given more time to pay their fees.

Students should constitute Council committees to give their inputs before students focused policies are implemented.

Managerial staff should avoid utterances necessitated by pressure. I am currently gathering data on management’s utterances instigated protest. Most of these utterances are made during altercations. 

Foresee when protests will start and quickly calm nerves. It is sometimes sad that management actually allow protest to occur. Unless for cases where proactive Deans of students are in office, management seldom makes efforts to cut protest short peacefully.

The issue of natural state of studentship is now be a theme in management’s decision. The students wouldn’t just register on time. It is like the child, he wouldn’t just do anything right but that does not mean we apply maximum punishment, knowing well their state of mind.

Credits

This material is dedicated to the NDU Parent/Teacher Association. During the school fees portal closure protest in July, 2021, while discussing the protest with the parent community, a parent brought the topic of time bomb policies up. Suggesting that no matter how long the students bore some obnoxious policies, one day, they must surely get tired. Special appreciation to the parents’ community. If you are a parent, you may want to join our WhatsApp group by requesting through WhatsApp – 08060699054

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