The management of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, has ignored the allegation of negligence levelled against the officials of the institution’s health centre which reportedly led to the death of a final year student, Aisha Adesina.
However, the university’s senate, on Tuesday, directed the management to set up a committee to probe the protests by the students over the death of their colleague.
The senate of a university comprises professors and other lecturers who occupy some administrative positions in acting capacity because they are yet to be confirmed as professors.
The body also serves as the supreme organ in charge of academic matters including award of certificates in the university system.
The deceased, a final year student of the department of foreign languages, faculty of arts, was according to the protesters, poorly managed by the health centre, before she was eventually referred to the Seventh Day Adventist hospital outside the campus, where she eventually died on Thursday, 30 September.
A statement issued by the university and signed by its registrar, Margaret Omosule, noted that the senate condemned the protest by the students caused by Miss Adesina’s death.
The statement reads in part: “Senate unequivocally, condemned the students’ action in its entirety and frowned at the blocking of the Ife/lbadan and Ife/Ede highways and other adjoining roads.
“The Senate commended the vice-chancellor and the entire management on the prompt and proactive decision to suspend students’ activities stressing that precious lives could have been lost, if actions had been delayed. It therefore affirmed its support for the decision taken by Management that: (1) students should vacate the campus and their respective halls of residence; (2) the swearing-in of the newly elected Students’ Union officers be put on hold.”
The statement added that the committee to be set up should present its report within two weeks.
But the university’s spokesman, Abiodun Olarewaju, told PREMIUM TIMES that the committee to be set up will look at both the circumstances that led to the students’ death and the protest.
But reasons the university failed to indicate its intention to probe the circumstances surrounding the death of the student in its press statement could not be provided by Mr Olarewaju.
Some staff, students and other relevant stakeholders have condemned the position of the university’s senate, describing it as a sign of “sharp degeneracy” in the class of scholars on the campus.
A former lecturer on the campus and pioneer member of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Omotoye Olorode, said the university’s senate’s action was depressing.
Mr Olorode, in a terse reaction sent to our reporter on Wednesday, wrote: “Government-sponsored decay that was born more than two decades ago. Really depressing!
“When the academy dies, virtually ALL will be lost. And to know this is the same Great Ife whose unflinching tradition of truth and courage generations of faculty and students sacrificed time, careers, and blood to build! We shall overcome, comrades.”
The late Miss Adesina, who was said to be an asthmatic patient, had gone to the health centre to complain of a sore throat.
She was reportedly given an anti-malaria medication which her friends confirmed “did not work” and that the pains had persisted for three days before she was rushed back to the health centre on Thursday.
The public relations officer-elect of the university’s students’ union, Ogunperi Taofeek, said in a statement issued on Friday that; “Adesina’s death is not the first to happen due to negligence of duties by the workers at the health centre.”
“We call on the University Management to investigate this death and punish all health workers who failed in performing their duties when Aishat needed attendance which they failed to give but only transferred her in her last moments to Seventh Day Hospital where she eventually died.
“Without a proper and quick investigation (one which must actively involve and be communicated to students) and punishment meted, the University Management will be putting the lives of students in danger. We cannot let our lives become toys. We will have to protest this, as we cannot afford to keep losing our lives like fowls,” the statement reads in part.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that before proceeding to block the main roads outside the university campus in protest, the protesting students had demanded to see the university’s vice-chancellor, Eyitope Ogunbodede, who reportedly refused to address them.
University campus shut
Rather than respond to the students’ quest to be addressed by the vice-chancellor, the university management announced the closure of the institution, putting an abrupt end to ongoing examinations.
This was announced in a statement released by the university’s spokesman, which noted that the management “understands the grief after the loss of the student, but will not tolerate the continuous and uncontrolled protest by the students.”
“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,” the statement added.