THIS WEEK: OAU AND THE BUHARIS

For a number of weeks now, erratic electricity and water supply has been a recurring experience on the campus of Obafemi Awolowo University. This is a school that once and often prides itself as enjoying the most stable power supply among its public and state counterparts in Nigeria. There is a trend that seems almost unnoticed by the student population, especially the present generation of students; year after year, the standard of living slowly deteriorates. Some years back, any instance of power outage lasting from 24 to 48 hours would easily elicit bitter reactions and protest from students. Then, record could be kept of days and several days of uninterrupted power supply. As for water, it was more available on regular basis.

Today, it is more frequent for circulars to pasted (when at all they are pasted) notifying of power outage mostly due to repairs ongoing either in the host in Ibadan or on the wiring system of the school. When none of this is responsible, it may be a transformer that got damaged on its own will or as a result of the lightning’s effect. In the wee hours of Sunday, the occupants of Awolowo, Alumni, Mozambique, Angola and Muritala Mohammed Post-graduate halls were painfully ushered into the week by the blackout that lasted till Wednesday evening.

For most of the semester, water unlike before has remained on the list of scarce commodities on campus. Students have been enduring coloured water – unhealthy for drinking – for long but when it turned gold, no height of frustration can be further reached. Many students were seeing the water circular for the very first time mid-week when they were notified about the issue with the pump. It is an eyesore that residents of Fajuyi, Alumni and even Awolowo halls went as far as the academic area (some by public transport) in search of water. Neither is the unbefitting scene of dozens of students from different halls crowding the reservoir at Moremi worth sighting by the outside world, of one of the best Nigerian universities. With the present reality, electricity and water have now become commodities that don’t keep company of each other for too long. And as a matter of fact, these two are indispensable to the survival of students of the 21st century.

To save this ugly side from the attention of the media, the taunting statements of the jealous who like to hear ill of the famed Great Ife and to make learning conducive for students, the university management must embark on a massive overhauling and replacement of electric facilities like transformers and cables and equipment involved in water distribution like the pump, rust tanks and old pipes. The appalling state of some structures and facilities justify the claim that OAU lags in maintenance culture. For a system that relies on singular source of distribution, constructing boreholes and stationing generating plants in the halls of residence will go a long way to ameliorate the current challenges. Providing edible water for domestic needs and regular power to use electrical and electronic gadgets and for academic purposes is not to much for the students to ask after all. In fact, in an ideal educational system, these amenities are not to be demanded or protested for. They are enjoyed as fundamental rights. From general observation, student activism reduces in intensity when water and power are constants than variables. By implication, the university is relatively peaceful when basic amenities function well and dispense regularly.

The next Vice Chancellor of the University remains undecided. The case against the credibility of the procedures with which the Governing Council appointed Professor Ayobami Salami in June has been transferred to an Industrial Court in Ibadan on Monday by a Federal High Court in Osogbo. Will the sleeping dog of Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) be woken again? Well, the outcome of events at Ibadan will decide that when eventually there is a sitting. If the fight will resume, the stance of the students may be neutral granted it doesn’t ignite anything of the sort of impeding academic activities.

A drama that may be seen as “rehearsed” in the home and staged on the television transpired featuring the President and the first lady. Aisha Buhari in an interview with BBC Hausa on Friday expressly said that she and her husband don’t know majority of the to officials in his cabinet. In the interview she claimed he is yet to make his intention known to her about contesting in 2019 elections. The focal point of the interview is the explicit confession concerning President Buhari’s cabinet vis-a-vis the situation of the country presently. In her words, “I have decided, as his wife, that if things continue like this up to 2019, I will not go out and campaign again and ask any woman to vote like I did before. I will never do it again.” While responding to this, in the presence of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Buhari gave what is now the sensation among Nigerians, “I don’t know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room”. Those who are gender-sensitive see this is an affront to the representation of the female gender at the highest level. On the other hand, mixed reactions have attended Mrs. Buhari’s disposition in the interview.

However true or dubious her statements are, some see them as a sincere confession, some as courageous especially because they came from a woman from a highly patriarchal Northern society and others as “inciting”, given the attacking nature. However, the “call and response” scenario between the president and his wife is laced with more grave implications. It suggests some sort of discord, binary interests and the distance of the first lady from her husband’s political business. Also, it may be inferred that some unsettled scores behind the doors of the Presidential villa have finally bubbled to the surface. With the world’s attention focused on President Buhari of an ailing Nigeria, his handling of the first lady’s remarks was not done neatly. Not only has he justified the Western detractors of their negative representation of African leaders, he has also given the opposition a potent leverage to be used at his detriment sometime in the future. One thing is sure – there will be repercussions of unknown degrees and when they finally arrive, someone may wish to withdraw what has been said and modify how what was said was put.

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A media team that is unrepentantly committed to building young minds with thought-provoking articles containing scents of historical reflections.
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