Tension in UNIBEN over suspension of SUG Excos
Palpable tension pervades the University of Benin, UNIBEN, as the National Association of Nigerian Students (NAN), Zone B, on Thursday, issued a 72-hour ultimatum to the management of the university to reverse its suspension of the executive council of the institution’s Students Union Government (SUG) or face mass protest.
UNIBEN management, it would be recalled, had on Tuesday, dissolved the SUG executive council and installed a caretaker committee in its place, after which it ordered the students to vacate their halls of residence for a three-week break, ending on April 18,202. Tue halls of residence are expected to be used for the 20th National Sports Festival, tagged “Edo 2020”, to be hosted by Edo State from April 6 through April 14.
In a statement signed by the Coordinator, NANS zone B, Comrade Etinyene Friday Offongekpe and made available to newsmen in Benin City, the students national union body said suspending the SUG Executives should not have been the first option as dialogue which had always been the best way of solving problems, stressing that NANS would not rest until the issues surrounding the suspension were resolved.
“After proper consultation and consideration, the zonal leadership assured the wrongly suspended Executive of SUG, UNIBEN of total support and solidarity even as we advise the management to review this decision and give room for dialogue, failure to which, NANS will mobilise the zonal leadership and national leadership to the university of Benin until the Exco is reinstated,” the body threatened.
NANS advised the management of UNIBEN to expect mass action in the university if nothing was done within three days from March 30.
The coordinator, NANS zone B, said the embattled SUG President told him that the management sent the students parking from the university hostels because the facilities would be used for the upcoming National Sports Festival without providing the students with alternative accommodation.
He said the union’s president informed him that all attempts to reach the management failed as the Dean of Students gave them three reasons why the university’s Senate took the decision of suspending the elected union’s executives with an alternative to handpick some students to form a caretaker committee for students’ activities in the university.
He called on the UNIBEN union members, zonal executives and NANS comrade in the state to maintain the status quo as the report had gotten to the zonal and national leadership of NANS.
In a statement endorsed by the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the institution, Dr Benedicta Ehanire, UNIBEN stated that the institution’s Senate took the action to forestall a breakdown of law and order following a planned protest by the Students Union body in reaction to the shift in the school’s academic calendar.
“The Union had persistently engaged in subversive activities including incitement of other students to disobey lawful instructions by the school authorities.
“This is in spite of concerted efforts by the management, led by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Lilian Salami, to provide their basic needs of water and electricity, as well as enhanced infrastructure for learning.
“Consequently, the account of the Union has been suspended and their secretariat sealed. All members of the erstwhile Union executives are to hand over their Students’ Union Identity Cards to the Chief Security Officer of the university immediately.
“They are also to vacate the privileged hostel accommodations accorded them latest 6:00 pm on Tuesday, 30th March 2021,” the statement added.
“The Senate wishes the students the best in their ongoing examinations and a restful break from the 1st of April, 2021, until their return to campus for the second semester on 18th April, 2021,” the statement concluded.