STUDENTS of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, have taken to their various social media handles to condemn the directive from the university’s management that all commercial activities in the halls of residence will be stopped from December 31, 2016.
A circular pasted in all the halls of residence and signed by the university’s Security Unit says that the directive is part of efforts to beef up security in the university, as non-students in the hostels hide under the guise of these commercial activities to constitute nuisance in the university.
It further stated that any students caught carrying out any commercial activity in the hostels from the 1st of January, 2017 would be fined N50,000, and the goods confiscated.
However, students have described the directive as “the season’s joke,” which will not see the light of the day, and have asked the university to retract it, saying it is “insensitive and unrealistic.”
A student and an aspirant to the office of the Students Union president, said: “When you appraise the economic situation of the nation, no sane security unit in an academic environment would stop students from trading.
“Prices of goods are more favourable among student traders; human relationship among student traders is better than the Buttery operators, and issues arising from change, poor quality of products, and unavailability of goods are minimal among student traders.”
According to him, “at the Fajuyi Hall, for instance, the Upper Buttery operators may take few minutes out of shop, lock it and you have no one to attend to you.”
He noted also that banning commercial activities among students is a security threat on its own, as most of these student traders sell to make ends meet. If they are prevented from making earnings for their survival, he argued, how do they survive?
He challenged the security unit to provide proof to back up their claim that such commercial activities cause security worries in hostels.
Another student from the Faculty of Law, Koye-Ladele, also expressed his consternation and disgust at the statement from the university’s security unit that students caught trading from January would pay a fine of N50,000.
He asked: “Is it now that we are in a period of recession that people who have not yet resorted to stealing or any other vices should be encouraged? Is it now that some students cannot survive on what they get from home and they have not joined cult groups or started trading in drugs?”
He noted that some students are self-sponsored and cannot afford the fees without working to make ends meet; and that late in the night when students are in need of commodities after reading, the student traders are the only ones available.
He described the claim that some students roam the halls of residence to perpetrate crime under the guise that they are intending to buy goods from student traders as “an assault on logic.”
He said: “How many thieves has the security unit actually apprehended? Students are the ones who most often catch thieves among themselves. It would be welcome if the security unit can produce the statement of an apprehended thief who claimed he wanted to use the student-owned buttery.
“The federal government itself does not have the power to order a cessation of trading activities, as long as the affair is not criminal.
“Any attempt to close the buttery would lead to a rise in crime, because having lost their means of sustenance; these students will resort to whatever they can in order to survive.”
By Bamidele Williams, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.