The Need to Restore UNILAG’s Suspended Students Union, By Segun O’Law


One of various social-psychological theories explaining the basis for aggressive responses is the frustration-aggression assumption, which justifies that people resort to aggressive behaviours when overtly frustrated. Frustration is usually occasioned by unattended needs which have caused psychological discomfort, displeasure, dissatisfaction and, of course, would lead to physical reactions.

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The human body is, by nature, irritable. So, once an unattended need degenerates into extreme human discomfort, we should expect reactions. It’s natural. But not to react is even dangerous. When a historic backlog of bottled up anger suddenly explodes, the outcome is usually more catastrophic.

From the pyramid of needs in the model developed by Abraham Maslow, Hierarchy of Needs, the first and the very least need is the basic “physiological” one, which include feeding, clothing, shelter, mating (s*x), etc. They are the least, the very least, because they make up human’s basic “survival” needs. After surviving, Maslow recognised that the human is then motivated to pursue other higher needs such as safety or security needs, social or affiliation needs, esteem needs and then the self-actualisation needs.

This leads to the question: what type of graduates is the University of Lagos (UNILAG) aiming to produce, year-in and year-out? The types that cannot pursue self-actualisation needs? How do you progress to higher human needs if you can’t even basically survive? The environment created here is inherently inimical to survival, let alone allow for actualisation of the ideal self. UNILAG professors know this – trust me!

Let’s come home to the protest that led to closure of the school by the authorities at UNILAG. Students were only asking for basic physiological or “survival” needs. Water and electricity. But the authorities chose to understand the simple language of the demand for these needs differently. The misrepresentation of students demand by the authorities is not innocent, nor ignorant, but deliberately mischievous. If UNILAG authorities do not have answers to the demands, there are other acceptable ways to communicate this, other than employing a rather, unimpressive, Ego Defence Mechanism.

Shutting down the school as a result of students’ reaction to unattended needs is never an acceptable answer to the situation. To even worsen it, rising from an “emergency meeting” only to suspend the student’s union without any rational basis gives-off the institution cheaply to global disappointment. And looking at the forms students and parents are asked to fill for “reabsorption” makes one ask “who were the deciders at that emergency meeting?”

Rudeness not intended please. We only deserve to know what basis led to it. The last memo shutting down the school only said “academic activities” were suspended, not students. So, are we reabsorbing the “academic activities” that were suspended or reabsorbing students who were not suspended in the first instance? No, why are parents required to sign indemnity forms? In this age, UNILAG authorities won’t even treat its students as adults! They would still require older adults to sign for their adults? A certain epigrammatic statement says, “the boy is now the father of his father”, meaning now that we are adults, we have become parents to our parents and are now taking care of them. Hence, we reject the insinuation by the UNILAG authorities that we are not capable even as adults, while also asking for the basis for signing an indemnity form – what was damaged please? In the last memo before the one on the “emergency school reopening”, the Management only said it action was to foster peace, not stating that anything was damaged. I wasn’t on campus during the protests until I learnt that the school was shut, but nowhere have I seen any damage. Students, since I came into UNILAG, have always conducted themselves in a peaceful manner, there can only be damage where touts are sponsored to mingle with peaceful protesters.

The need for Students’ Union leadership is unarguable.

First, it is the first platform that students have to demonstrate leadership skills before they are thrown into the society. It is what students are exposed to while on campus that they take with them into the society. Why are Primary Six dropouts local government chairmen and “School Cert” holders party chairmen, SSG, etc? It is largely because graduates are not well prepared for leadership right from school. While undergraduates are only busy reading theories in schools, idle school leavers or dropouts look for politicians to follow and they take it from there. If we are only to take orders while in primary school and we had some education while in secondary school, the higher institutions are meant for “leadership preparedness enrollment”. But we are always missing it in Nigeria, especially in the University of “first choice”. Let’s begin to get it right, let’s restore University of Lagos Students Union (#RestoreULSU).

Second, the Union is the collective voice of students. Management of the institution can not be executed by the authorities alone. If students don’t have inputs, the only thing you’d see is what has manifested – autocracy. So, let’s #RestoreULSU.

Third; innovations. The community, and of course the University Community comprises two generations, the old and the young (old adults and young adults). The old are always complacent and desire to maintain the “status quo”, but the young are constantly yearning for “change”. The status quo has some inherent good, but change always makes it better. Hence, you want to fuse both to produce dynamism. The platform for the young to fuse properly is therefore their Union. So, you have to#RestoreULSU for the students to have their voice.

As I mentioned earlier, the higher institution is students’ “leadership testing ground”. The way they run the campus gives them the experience on what to do when they get to the larger society. But if a cluttered desk means a cluttered mind, what does an empty desk mean? Let’s#RestoreULSU

Fourth; dangerous communication gap. It is more dangerous when people don’t speak. If you don’t know what’s on students’ mind, you are building a keg of explosive powders. It is therefore in collective interest to #RestoreULSU.

Fifth, aggregation of issues. If students have issues that are spread across rather than aggregated in one channel, it complicates matters. The Students’ Union platform is the ultimate single channel for handling issues. So, #RestoreULSU.

I’m even unimpressed that Professors who have degrees in criticising politicians would not take the littlest criticism from students who rightly observe lapses under their watch. Ego, right? That’s how the politicians also feel when they speak.

But in all, for the good of all, I implore the authorities of University of Lagos to be genuine but not so highhanded. Kindly #RestoreULSU.

Segun O’Law is a Nigerian citizen journalist. Twitter: @segun_olawoye

Babatunde Akinsola
Babatunde Akinsola
Babatunde Akinsola is aNaija247news' Southwest editor. He's based in Lagos and writes on the Yoruba Nation political issues, news and investigative reports

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