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FG, act fast on encroachment, illegal mining on OAU land

It is disturbing that the federal government is endangering the lives of students and staff of Obafemi Awolowo University. And, I must say that the…

It is disturbing that the federal government is endangering the lives of students and staff of Obafemi Awolowo University. And, I must say that the lackadaisical attitude of the Federal Ministry of Education, and, indeed, the Federal Government spell doom for the University community. 

For some weeks now, the media space has been awashed with the issue of unregulated mining in OAU; the Federal Ministry of Solid Minerals turned a deaf ear to it despite the fact that it is life-threatening. I don’t know what other instrument callousness could be measured with if not the unserious attitude of the federal government towards the overall well-being of students and staff in the university. 

Just this Monday, it was also reported that a group of Ife indigenes led by one Oba Ologudu invaded the university land with bulldozers beside Poplat fuelling station.

According to them, they have been mandated by the Ife community to build a wall fence to demarcate Ife land from that of the university. Meanwhile, this land they are talking about has a-3 block students’ hostels in it which the hostility of some unscrupulous elements in Ife community has not permitted the university to utilise since 2018.

Now, they want to go ahead to erect a wall fence around a hostel which was built with taxpayers’ money with a claim that it is their land. The said land also has the university sawmill which has been there since 1972.

For historical context, the hostel was constructed to house both boys and girls through TETFUND intervention. Unfortunately, when it was to be opened for allocation to students, there was threat of fire and brimstone by some unscrupulous elements in Ife community which forced the university management to halt allocating the rooms there to students.

In fact, the then Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ogunbodede and his convoy was attacked right on the land by hoodlums who were mobilised there by these unscrupulous Ife elements which made a member of the security team of the then VC to sustain injury from matchet cut.

All indices suggest that the university is under the mercy of some elements in this Ife community and that the Federal Government has abandoned the university. But, the federal government must understand that if this issue is not tamed right now, a serious violence will soon ensue between the Ife community and the university. 

In fact, I was expecting that the University management would have issued a statement as regards this latest issue of encroachment as it happened on Monday but it seems the management does not want to offend some elements in this Ife.

Encroaching on land that has been allocated to the university by the federal government is the height of recklessness and it suggests that these people do not bother about town-gown relationships. The hostility is not healthy for teaching, learning and research. The federal government must act and act swiftly. 

The fleecing of peoples’ resources without control is the hallmark of the neo-liberal capitalism that this regime is operating. Dele Alake, the Minister of Solid Minerals is busy telling the world how secured the resources are, yet, a few Nigerians are busy exploiting and fleecing mineral resources which belong to the government. 

President Tinubu must come to the aid of students and lecturers of OAU. I am particular about this because I am aware of the dangers and brutality associated with unregulated mining and encroachment on a University land. The University management must also stand its ground and stop being an onlooker. This is a very urgent call the federal government and, indeed, stakeholders in the educational sector must take so dearly. 

Kazeem Olalekan Israel writes from OAU, Ile-Ife


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