The death of a final year student of Obafemi Awolowo University(OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun State, Adeshina Aishat Omowunmi has led to the immediate closure of the school by the university management on Friday evening. Already, a release by the University Public Relations officer(PRO), Biodun Olanrewaju has directed all students to vacate their halls of residence by noon on Saturday.
But the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Zone D has condemned the closure of the school, calling it “infertile and primitive”.
Miss Adeshina, a final year student of the Foreign Languages Department reportedly died on Thursday, September 30, at the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital, Ile-Ife. Students are however angry as they claimed that the University Health Center mismanaged her case before she was transfered to the missionary hospital. They claimed that the health center has in the past mismanaged several cases like that before referral.
Seeing the death as one too many, students demanded that the Vice Chancellor, Prof Eyitope Ogunbodede addressed them on the matter. When the VC’s address was not forthcoming, the students on Friday went on peaceful protest to the University gate, where they stopped all vehicles from entering the campus.
In was in the aftermath of the procession that the university management announced closure and ordered students to vacate their halls of residence.
The press release issued by the management and titled “Management closes down OAU, asks students to vacate halls of residence reads:
“On Tuesday, 28th September, 2021 ADESINA Omowumi Aishat, a 24-year old, female, Part 4 student of the Department of Foreign Languages reported to the Health Centre with signs and symptoms of a severe infection. She was promptly treated with some drugs prescribed and asked to report back as an out-patient. She reported back to the Health Centre in the morning of Thursday, 30th September, 2021. Upon examination, she was referred to the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital for further management where she regrettably died on Thursday 30th September, 2021;
A release by the Public Relations Officer of the University, Abiodun Olarewaju, stated that the Management understands the grief resulting from this untimely death within the community and sympathises with the parents, friends, colleagues and the entire students of the University on this sad loss, and prays for the repose of her soul;
However, Management condemns in strong terms the continuous and uncontrolled protests by the students culminating in unbridled brigandage, blocking the Ife/Ibadan and Ife/Ede highways and other adjoining roads that could be used as alternative routes, and engaging in other acts that are detrimental to their health and the safety of the generality of the people;
Therefore, having exhausted all necessary avenues to call the students to order and allow normalcy to return to the Campus and its environs, the authorities of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, have accordingly closed down the School until further notice. This is to forestall further breakdown of law and order;
In view of this, all students are hereby directed to vacate their halls of residence and the Campus latest by 12:00 noon on Saturday, 2nd October, 2021;
Consequently, the swearing-in of the newly elected Students’ Union officials has been put on hold, pending a review of the situation;
In the meantime, the University management has put in place the machinery to unravel the circumstances surrounding the immediate and remote cause(s) of the crisis”.
However, NANS has condemned the closure, saying it is draconian, hasty, and unnecessary. The student body therefore demand immediate reversal of the closure.
In a statement signed by Zone D coordinator of NANS, Kowe Odunayo Amos, and Secretary, Giwa Yisa Temitope, narrated the students’ side of the story thus:
“Today the 1st of October, 2021 the students of the Obafemi Awolowo University in their numbers protested the painful death of their colleague Adesina Aishat Omowunmi who died as a result of the negligence of the staff of the University health centre and rather than responding to the issues that necessitate the protest in a mature manner the Vice chancellor in his characteristic manner choiced to worsen the situation by closing the campus and his only reason for this infantile and hasty decision is that the students exercised their rights to a peaceful protest. Although it is not unexpected, we still find it rather embarrassing that the management of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife could announce the closure of the institution in response to Students’ agitation against the death of one of them, Omowumi Aishat, a Part 4 student of the Department of Foreign Languages who died as a result of negligence by health workers at the University Health Centre;
As an association, we find it appalling that the University management could go to the extent of twisting the narrative by saying that she was adequately treated. Meanwhile, reverse was the case. It is on good record that the helpless student was abandoned and was certified brought-in-dead at Seventh Day Hospital, Mayfair for treatment where she gave up the ghost. But, the management in their characteristic manner had to lie that she was promptly treated of severe infection (which they could not even name). The fact that the management could not name the ‘severe infection’ is a testament to the fact that they lied.
As against the content of the 4th paragraph of the circular that was issued by the University management, there was no attempt by the University management “to call the students to order and allow normalcy to return to the campus and its environs…”. Rather, the VC refused to heed all calls to come out and address the protesting students who were actually requesting for his presence at the protest ground. And, it is public knowledge that the students did not at any point in time during the cause of the protest engage in any form of “unbridled brigandage” not to talk of breaking any known law. At least, protest is an internationally recognised right and the students were still acting within the prism of their fundamental rights. Issues are very clear!
In unison, the Zonal leadership condemned the reckless closure of the University by the management and call on the VC to, as a matter of urgency and necessity reopen the institution for students to continue their examinations. We make bold to assert that if the University management should fail to announce the reopening of the University, the Zonal leadership shall relocate its secretariat to Obafemi Awolowo University campus gate until the VC reverse the decision. Also, we shall be calling for the removal of the University Vice-Chancellor at that spot and we shall be mobilising in our numbers;
We therefore call on students of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife and charge all SUGs across the South West to put everything in place to arrive OAU campus gate tomorrow for a showdown until the management rescind the decision”.
Convergence Point: OAU Campus Gate