At UNN: Madness!


It is expected that a whole is typically larger than its parts and many heads are better than one. This was not so on the morning of Saturday the 16th as a group gang of University students decided to wreck their school in the middle of their end of session exam for nothing short of a rumour.

The whole thing was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration against the rumoured increase in school fees by the Vice-chancellor Prof. Barth Okolo. That was the plan at least when the students in the male hostel (Franco) area were rallied as early as 5:00AM (to whom the would be demonstrating against on a Saturday morning is still unanswered). This peaceful demonstration turned into an orgy of looting and vandalization on a scale not seen, much less expected by the so-called post-UME generation. The major targets were, apart from the VC’s quarters (the plan was to burn it down UNILAG style but the ended up only wrecking the cars the street lights), CEC restaurant,  and the VC’s office extending into the town  and up to Opi junction.

Things cooled down a bit after the police and the Army were called in the restore order. The soldiers acted as expected descending on the franco hostels (where the innocent ones who decided to stay in their rooms were) shooting, brutalizing and even taking phones from the students, a number of whom were left with gunshot wounds.The army and mobile police were called in again on Sunday to enforce the directive asking all students to vacate the campus till further notice culminating in another round of brutality on students who had just about no where to go.

As it stands the school is shut, students are roaming around seeking to enter the hostels to at least get out their property, and many are on their way to Lagos and Abuja. Second semester exams have been cut short and no one now knows when the 2008/2009 session, now in its 15th month, will end. There were plans for a major showdown (‘Bartho’s burial’) today but enthusiasm has somewhat fizzled and security is tighter.

The justification behind the madness is the rumoured increase in school fees. Now there have been sinister antecedents: the acceptance fee(for new students) was increased to N25000 from N5000 and the increase of the school fees at the University secondary school (which also led to a bout of madness by the students). As the SUG explains, Bartho was planning to increase fees to N80000 from N30000, convocation fees to N40000 from N5000 and hostel accommodation from N9000 to N30000 and all their attempts to meet with him and dialogue were rejected hence the resort to  destroying their school demonstrations. But they were rumors pure and simple. Bartho himself came out and denied planning to increase fees adding that the whole thing was an attempt to discredit his administration by some who are not happy with his election.

There’s the opinion that there was a bit of premeditation in the violence coming after that in the secondary school (‘if secondary school students can protest increase in fees why should we allow Bartho to ride us?!’). It may also not be wild to suggest the presence of some students in the crowd who were not ready for their exams and saw the whole thing as an opportunity to disrupt the timetable. At the staff club and CEC it seems that the boys were after the food and drink kept (well what would you expect from demonstrators with an empty stomach?). Then there’s also the ‘indigene’ factor as Bartho has been  demolishing and relocating shops and stall around the campus

What have the students gained after all the madness? Probably they may- as yet- not be asked to pay increased fees (though someday, if UNN is to become more self-sufficient, the fees will have to rise), but they will have to pay for all the damages as has happened before, having to swear affidavits to be of good behaviour, that after having spent some time, no one knows how long, at home.

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14 thoughts on “At UNN: Madness!

  1. The entire detail to this gist is not yet out man. From the look of things, I believe the proposed increase in fees is not just a rumor. Problem is the students acted in a haste and forgot one important thing – getting hold of clear cut evidence (such as the published fees on the school’s website which was later removed on Saturday).

    Personally, I think Barth Okolo should resign as the VC. Personally, I think he lacks the mettle and fatherly care of the former VC (whom I heard he refused to dialogue with along with the Igwe of Nsukka on the recent changes he was imposing in the school as well as the hike in school fees)and does not understand the politics required in making such changes in a federal institution (lets not forget this!).

    I really do not blame the students for if Barth claims the hike was all a rumor, why refuse to dialogue with the students, the former VC and the Igwe to clarify the position of the University on an apparent misunderstanding? Why raise the acceptance fees to such a high as well as the school fees of the secondary school? Truly, if the students had not acted now, the would surely pay the fees without complaint by the time they return for the next session.

    I do not support the violence, a peaceful but determined demonstration should have sufficed but then, I guess its high time the administration of UNN understands that the lions and lionesses do have a voice and have particularly not been happy over the last half a decade for the apparent manipulation and control of the SUG as well as their welfare. I believe the Aluta spirit is back in UNN and despite the consequences, I believe this event shall never be forgotten!

    Barth Okolo is a known shrewd business man and only those who worked close to him during the hosting of the NUGA games came to realize that Nebo had made a huge mistake in openly supporting his installment as the VC of UNN. The result of that decision, well it is left for all to see and I cannot help but agree with the voice of over 20,000 people (students and staff) as well as clear indicators of mischief and improper governance rather than an obvious lie from this shrewd man who claims the rumor where lies!

    Remember, there is always an atom of truth in a host of rumors!

    Aluta Continua!!!!

    • ‘Remember, there is always an atom of truth in a host of rumors!’
      The point is they were rumours and the SUG fellows who incited this whole stuff are going to have to answer why one should take such drastic action on rumours.

      I am of the opinion that fees will have to increase someday. If the standard of the university is going to improve. It is also then that one can justify criticizing ineffectiveness s form the leadership. I also agree that Bartho hasn’t taking public relations seriously and it is his undoing…But after all the Aluta who is suffering? A friend of mine was shot in the face on Saturday (he was staying peacefully in his room that morning) 4 students slept at my place as they had no where to go at such a short notice. And why should students destroy their school for God’s sake? By their actions they have alienated even the staff who would have been behind them in their struggle.

      • Like I said earlier, a peaceful demonstration should have sufficed! Anyways, such actions you can only expect when things are resolved by violence and not dialogue – an option Barth Okolo choose by refusing to dialogue with all parties involved.

        I agree that school fees would increase, but my dear friend be sincere to yourself and tell me if you (as a parent, guardian or even student) would appreciate a 100% increase in all payable fees in the school (and in some situations the increase was rumored to even be more than 200% – convocation fees!. As far as I am concerned that is ridiculous and totally signifies action from a poor leader, someone without an atom of leadership acumen!!!

        A stepwise increase (30% should make sense bro) over 3 years would still have being a lot better. Yes we all want our children to have quality education, we all want our institutions to stand out like those in the UK and the US but still, we should grow with our own pace and capacity. Of what use is it that school fees are ridiculously hiked and students cannot afford the fees? Have you even thought of the repercussions? More robbery, prostitution (for those who want to persevere with school) and rapid drop in the literacy level (for those that cannot go the extra mile negatively to get the funds). No matter how you look at the situation, Barth’s option is crazy and has no future positive impacts on the growth of our educational system which I believe should increase in quality and yet be affordable (thus grow with our pace) else the entire effort would be a waste!

        I still call for that man’s resignation. As far as I am concerned, that man has no business with an educational institution or anything channeled towards improving lives. He would serve much better as an embezzler for political funds or better still as a bank manager not a Vice Chancellor!

  2. These ‘rumours’ have easily turned to truths in the past…so people have learnt their lessons and so they acted though irrationally afterwards..

  3. My opinions:
    Any increase in UNN’s already relatively high school fees is downright insensitive.
    Nonetheless, a protest should not have been staged on rumours regardless of the reliability of the sources. I must admit though that the hike in acceptance fees are a very good indicator of the impending increase.
    And in the event of a protest, there should be no destruction. Students can stop traffic, camp on the roads, call the media but no destruction.
    And I must disagree with you, Ikenna, that school fees must increase for an increase in UNN’s quality of education. Many countries in the world don’t have their students pay any tuition fees because their governments place a premium on education. If our government had any sense, they would do something similar. And even if school fees were to increase, an almost 300% jump is downright wicked. Many people enter school anticipating the total cost of education and making provision for equivalent sources of funding. Such an increase would be unanticipated by most and force them to drop out.

    • Thanks Dubi, I also agree that the increase if implemented was too high to be called considerate maybe a stepwise increase would have been the right approach (as Nd pointed out). My own problem is the badly organized demonstrations which as it stands have not achieved anything. Also concern the government and its responsibilities…we have waited for 50 years now for the government to put ‘a premium on education’ and institution, in my opinion have to take their own destiny in their hands. Again there has to be a plan taking into consideration the students. A plan that should be properly communicated. Here Bartho has failed…Somewhere else he should have resigned by now.

  4. irrespective of what the seemingly retarded VC was up to,violence never sets you up to get justice.now who gets to suffer for this?who is already suffering from this?only a group of people…the students.Aluta is good but Aluta doesn’t mean violence.Nigerian students shld know bera by now http://www.omojuwa.com

  5. Ikenna, ur version of the incident is inconclusive and not well researched. First of all i dont support the looting, arson and distruction perpatrated by Lions and Lionesses. The increase in acceptance fee was first a rumour b4 the it became a reality. Ur senses should tell u that if the acceptance fee could be increased to 25 gees from 6 gees, then the school fees will also be increased. And in the first place why should a newly admitted student pay 25 gees to accept admission? If u feel the Students acted on unsubstanciated rumours, u should know that 25k acceptace fee is worth demonstrating for. Secondly, this session has been running for 2 years now and no right thinkin person will disrupt his/her exams bcos of unpreparedness. Thirdly, if u know ur history you should know that the last time UNN xperienced this kind of school fees increment, the fees were actually increased in phases. And for ur info the type of education students get at UNN is not worth [25,000(Acceptance Fee) + 80,000(Rumoured School fees) + 30,0000(Rumoured Accomodation) ]= 135,000k. UNN at present is the most xpensive federal university(and ironically it is not the best from any credible published ranking), even without the increment. Do u think that this proposed increment is going to solve her administrative, infrastructural and financial problems ? Lastly, in as much students will be made to pay for these damages, they have sent a clear message; that any increment in that magnitude will not be tolerated!

    • Akmoh, if the those SUG students are brought before a court (any court) to explain all this madness, are these the kind of arguments that they would put forward, argume4nts based on rumours?

      • At least the increase in the acceptance and advert fee are not rumours. Infact i dont really understand ur argument.Are u aware that unn is not among the top 100 universities in Africa ;Check(http://www.4icu.org/topAfrica/) and (http://www.webometrics.info/top100_continent.asp?cont=Africa)? Unilag, OAU, UI, Uniport, Uniben, FUTA, UNAB and even LASU are on that list!!!. Yet UNN’s acceptance and Advert fee is more than these mentioned universities. Wetin we dey pay that kind of money for??? Lets not even talk about the rumoured school fee increase again. Do u think that it is justified that our parents should pay 25k for our younger ones as acceptance fee??. Or is it the advert form fee that was 10k; he even advised second choicers(sic) to apply when UNN only accept first choice candidates. Is this not enough xploitation. Do we have to wait for the increment to affect us before we react!!!

  6. Hi Ikenna. Glad you’ve not lost your passion for words.

    Now down to this UNN disaster. I can’t agree less with you that most Nigerian students have a diabilating sickness called subsidy hangover. Education cannot be free, if it is, then someone is paying for it.

    On the other hand, Prof Barth (whatever his name is) acted like a typical Nigerian tyrannt. Increasing fees without dialogue. What has he achieved, my alma mater burns, students went wild while staff and parents mourn their losses. The issue about any increase is usually done with the wave of air and load of sunlight. No, the VC decided to play alone. I hope he stimmers in the hot soup alone!

    As for rumours. It a know fact that rumours arise when there is a gap in communication. In a society where leaders have been know to blatantly tell lies in front of cameras… why should the students believe that the increase is mere grapvine gist?

    Let these guys learn to do things the right way. If the VC had involved the stakeholders – staff, students, parents – in the discussions of effecting an increase, then perharp, UNN would not have burnt.

    And besides what does one expect when mediocrity is exaulted to the high heavens. It’s disgusting to have an ‘indigene’factor in a university. Let alone allow it to determine who becomes VC in an academic enviroment.

    What has UNN turned to?

  7. U r all correct in your own ways. Im an insider in the UNN…i wz born there..went to nursery,primary,secondary and B.Sc inside campus…and wz thr when evrythin happened as i came to collect my certificate…these statements im goin 2 make now r the truth and nothing but the truth….
    1. UNN is not in the list of 100 best uni’s because all past VC’s and their cabals (after Prof.Ndili in d 1980s and before Prof.Nebo in 2003) embezzled all the money that wz supposd to be for upgradin the univ.
    2. These VC’s and their wicked ‘townsmen’ formed a political ‘cult’ dat – control the money,allocation of houses and headship of depts, deanship of faculties and allocation of shop spaces, directorship of institutes,election of DVC’s and appointment of VC’s.
    3. I saw a comment abt being an ‘indigene’ – mind u, no former UNN VC (apart from Nebo and Bartho) hail from the catchment area of the UNN i.e. Nsukka or Enugu. Again,out of 85 heads of depts…only 4 hail from the catchment area. Now these HODs employ over 250 staff (contract and permanent) from their villages…
    4. When Prof Rev.Nebo became VC’s,he was able 2 shrug off most of the existing cabals and mafia…i paid N1490 sch fees in 1st yr.i neva paid accptance fee..the money went to the cabal bcos they were interested in their pockets and not the growth of the univ. I paid N14,150 in final yr when Nebo came in and that wz wen d UNN became alive again!…complete with street lights on even the footpaths and a school generator..(Bartho has fixed another one near Dan Fodio nw and it works).
    5. Thank God for the influence of the Enugu State govt in Nebo’s appointment…odawise UNN would be a complete dungeon nw.
    Bartho Okolo contested for the VC with a member of the ‘gold diggers cabal’ – I know him…and he has vowed 2 cause trouble. Now their grouse with bartho is – we want 2 control d inflow and outflow of money here – Bartho refused!…now they gave a group of cult boys that are tired of sch money to go and buy coffin and print obituary posters of the VC…shameful!
    6. I must assure you, Bartho is towing the line of Nebo and he wants to flush out the greedy cabal… I advise students to go to sch and avoid ‘univ politics’…and lest i forget…Nebo knows why he made sure Bartho succeeded him.QED. A word is enough for the wise…Bartho is set to restore the dignity of man….Nsukka is my town…we r d ones wearing the shoes..we know where it hurts…we know what is goin on in the UNN and we will support Bartho in this revolution with our blood!

    • Don’t you think IK that it is this ‘thinking about my own people first’ which you say has wrecked UNN that will continue to wreck it even when Enugu state government influence the election of people in the catchment area?

      UNN is a federal University (Its B. Sc. Nigeria not Nsukka on your certificate). We are where we are today (and i speak of the Igbo man in general) because of this attachment to tribe and family and not to responsible stewardship

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