Troubled By These Killings

By Salami Ismail Oyewale

In a country where the value of human life is not worth more than that of a fly at a butcher’s shop; where misery is a constant companion and the candour of our politicians and/or rulers is the same candour that pimps extend to prostitutes, it is not out of place to celebrate every minute, every hour, every month, and every year. It is certainly not for nothing that “Happy new month” has become a refrain at the beginning of every month for many Nigerians on social media platforms.

Virtually every genuine student of the Nigerian Students Movement laments about the good old days of yesteryears. Statements such as: "Gone are the days of students' activism on our university campus". Or "Revolutionary student leaders like the late Segun Okeowo no longer exists".

Or "Students comrades are now political halleluya boys", are the common lines used by the older generation of genuine comrades to register their displeasure at the death of a viable and strong students movement in Nigeria.

The numbness and dumbness of today's comrades is another form of blindness that reflects on our nation's collective myopia regarding social and political issues like corruption, poverty, unemployment, etc.

As university students and comrades, we are expected to take active roles in democracy - roles beyond the ballot box. We are expected to help frame both issues and solutions in our communities, our nation, and the world. Nigerian students and comrades no longer participate in the kind of vibrant civic life that is critical to the success of our democracy.

Our students and comrades have failed to be active in developing and promoting civic space in education of democratic citizenship and engagement of our citizens by developing their political consciousness. In a country of 170 million people, students' voices matter! In the '60s and '70s, history has it that there was a huge rise in the involvement of students in politics. Time and again, we have seen and/or read how they have stood together to raise their voices against social injustices, tyranny, oppression, and dictatorship and have made impact on policies affecting them and Nigeria as a whole. Today, our university students and comrades are as dumb as a dummy. They have become "political almajiris" with the most corrupt politicians being their role models and decorating crooks with the highest students awards and honours.

The list of our shortcomings goes on and on. ...
These and many more are the crimes of the Nigerian Students and comrades. I beg to bring the attention of the entire nation to a subtle and deliberate avenue which has heavily culminated in the slow decline and death of the involvement of these students and comrades in national issues - the extrajudicial killings of Nigerian Students and comrades.

On Monday, April 11th, 2016, the news broke out of the killing of a Nigerian student, Comrade Ofurum Peter, a 400 level Accountancy student and serving president of the Faculty of Management Science Student Association (FAMASSA), amongst countless number of injured students by the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) while protesting the increment of school fees on their school premises, University of Port Harcourt (UniPort), Rivers State.

To compound the woes, officers of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) were alleged to have also shot a student while protesting students were en route a media house in Port Harcourt in demonstration against the death of Comrade Orufum Peter, who was earlier shot dead by the NPF.

About 48 hours earlier, on Saturday, April 9th, 2016, report had it that, while protesting the death of one of their colleague involved in a ghastly motor accident, two (2) students were killed by the bullets of men of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) in Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko (AAUA), Ondo State. This has led to the closure of the school indefinitely.

In summary, in the space of about 48 hours, four (4) - five (5) students were confirmed dead and about 2 dozens injured on 2 different campuses accross the country.

The rage in me is aimed towards the security forces in general, and the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) in particular. The NPF is not our "f*cking friend". Keep your friendship amongst your killing nest, blood-sucking, dream-shattering and future-draining force headquarters in Abuja. Friends don't kill friends!!!

Forget about the inadequacies of the Nigerian Students Movement and overlook our weak national strength at the moment. The Nigerian Police Force remains the number one enemy of the Nigerian students and comrades in this country. Are there no ways to combat protesting students other than sporadic gun shots? The NPF needs a complete overhaul. Their offense isn't only corruption, bribe taking, negligence of duty among others. Their major crime against the Nigerian people in particular, and humanity in general, is the indiscriminate use of firearms, especially against unarmed protesting Nigerian students!

These killings are a well calculated attempt to silence our voice. It is a deliberate move to render us permanently dumb and numb. It is now a recurring theme aimed at rendering us inconsequential in the scheme of national polity. To the Inspector General of Police, tell your incompetent boys they can kill one, two, three or some of us, but their bullets can't kill us all! I'm a comrade, a full fledged one for that matter, my pain is in the fact that it could have been my lifeless body riddled by bullets from officers paid by taxpayer's money to protect and safeguard my life!!!

To the leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), our association is no longer at sleep, this disturbing sleep is so long I'm of the strong opinion that we are now in a state of coma! An urgent prodding of our conscience is of immense importance now. We need to retrace our steps to the glory days of years gone pass.

Corruption continues to divide and destroy our collective resolve to terminate the cancer from our body politic. With broken criminal system, dysfunctional judicial system, comatose security agencies (especially the Nigerian Police Force), unchecked

media manipulation, uninformed and gullible citizenry (especially the youths), we have failed as a people to reach a moment of divine clarity on how best to move this nation forward.

The truth is that we have a serious problem with virtually every institution in this country. A university is an ivory tower. The town (community) should always come and learn from the gown (university). But the gown (university) is in total disarray. University of Lagos (UniLag) was shut down, after the students protested last week due to epileptic power supply. Why do all university management wait for students' protest before doing the needful? How can a university survive without power or water supply? As professors, should they not have been proactive enough and foresee the need to close the university before the situation got out of hands? Imagine if the protest had gone out of control and another student or two got shot dead by the morons in black and black outfit? I'm of the opinion that as a professor, you're an epitome of knowledge. But these Nigerian professors are challenging that thinking pattern of mine!

Given that situation, it is no surprise
that in 56 years of independence, and with over 350 universities littering the national landscape, we have not been able to solve our myriads of problems as a nation. In other words, our universities are but a true measure of Nigeria’s futility in many areas of life. To solve our problem, the individual does not need a foreign education; the system needs an administrative overhaul and attitude adjustment. We are eager to run overseas in search of foreign qualifications but the talent at home is either ignored or discouraged. Recently, we almost divided the nation along the obvious fault lines and called each other names because the rich were unable to send foreign exchange to their wards schooling abroad, but very little is being done to elevate the quality of our university, which is - and has to be - the foundation of sustainable success at all level of governance in this country.

We have bought the foreign life as sold to us, but we are not doing anything to sell ours. Look at how poorly-managed our infrastructures are. The same administrators who have no difficulty going abroad to any institution, show no concern for our near-comatose institutions in Nigeria. Unfortunately this problem, which is of incompetence and mediocrity, is not limited to our citadels of learning alone. We send to public office people we know to lack commitment and character, and then complain when they steal us blind.

The answer is that we must make long-term plans and implement those plans. We must install and respect the concept of merit, so that those who take our important public jobs are among the best. Where there are anomalies, such as in the fraudulent Central Bank of Nigeria hires and in the case of those who manipulated the current federal budget, we must respond with severe and open sanctions, not simply re-

deployments of the guilty.
On this occasion of the brutal killings of innocent Nigerian Students and comrades, I rededicate myself to the destruction of that system, no matter what its purveyors call it, that seeks to enslave the workers of the world; to categorically detest and overthrow all circumstances in which the human

being is humiliated, enslaved; abandoned, and despised!

I pledge to Nigeria; however, not Nigeria in its extremely dysfunctional state. I commit to a new, progressive, and egalitarian Nigeria where citizens will be defined not by their name, language, faith, or ethnicity; where citizens will

find fulfillment no matter which part of the country they come from; above all, a Nigeria where every Nigerian can live in peace, go to school, work, raise a family and run for office wherever they choose. I believe that Nigeria is possible!

This challenge is bigger than the Nigerian Students and Comrades and bigger than our universities. It is the story and challenge of the Nigerian people! #BeWise

Additional excerpts from the following works:
● "Oby Ezekwesili Versus Half-Baked Nigerian Journalists" By Bayo Oluwasanmi

● "Moyòsórè – A Journey Of Discovery, Reappraisal, And Rededication" By Chido Onumah

● "Troubled By China" By Sonala Olumhense

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