The Cause Of UNICAL Strike Action

Many reasons were given for the remote and immediate causes: the murder of a 400-Level Public Administration student by unknown gunmen;  stabbing to death a month earlier of a 400-Level Law student; perceived insecurity; lack of adequate power and water supplies;  perceived insensitivity of the university’s medical staff; an insensitive Student Union Government; higher development levy and
 the deadline for payment.

As students were sent home, transporters cashed in on the situation to make money. The number of students who lost their lives during the protest may never be ascertained. Same for those hospitalised after inhaling the teargas from mobile policemen.

Many have wondered: why did UNICAL students take to jungle justice? What would have been a possible preventive measure?
The former Acting Chief Security Officer (CSO), Captain Michael Okon, was on leave when the incident took place and the person holding fort for him could not contain the rampage. Today, the position of CSO has been advertised.

After two weeks of sitting, a joint committee set up by the Senate and the Governing Council submitted its report. It took the following decisions: immediate ban on the SUG and the Man O’War; payment of N10,000 damage levy by every student; swearing of an affidavit by every student to be of good behaviour, with an attestation letter duly signed by the parents; no student would be allowed into the hostels for the meantime, to enable management effect repairs.

The ban on the SUG affects all  arms of the government. The N10,000 payment affects not only regular but Sandwich and postgraduate students. The ban on the hostels is the first time that Malabites and Malabresses (male and female students in UNICAL) would be losing their “republic”. What this translates to is that some 10,000 students have been let loose in Calabar town seeking accommodation.

Some students told CAMPUSLIFE that the situation is like “an open-ended conflict between a recalcitrant son and an unforgiving father.”
Michael Omile said: “Though I wasn’t around when the riot took place but, in everything, students went too far, I condemn that. On the N10,000 levy, that is normal. Where I have a problem is telling those of us who have finished but have not got their certificate or gone for youth service to pay such money. Telling students to stay away from the hostels will be very challenging. There are more than 8,000 students in the hostel; where do we expect the students to stay? I urge management to reconsider, beef up security and let students go back to their hostels,”

A student, who simply gave his name as Williams, said: “Management is just joking to think that students should stay out of their home - their republik - even after paying for what few, less than two percent of the students’ population, destroyed”.

Another, who pleaded anonymity,  said: “The management is breaching the contract it has with students. The first riot (I believe) was not planned; if this their plan ever stands, they may be inviting another rampage that will be properly planned and well executed.”

A 300-Level student of Microbiology said: “For the management to think that we will suffer and pay N10,000 and leave our hostel may not work. Where do they expect somebody like me to go and get money for rent in town? Do they want the girls to go and live with men off campus?’’

A male student who called for caution, said: “When you look at the impending crisis, we wonder: will UNICAL ever recover? Further riots will only earn us further troubles without any solution. Let us launch an intellectual/legal war to force management to listen to us. Denial of hostel accommodation after payment is not only a breach of contract but a violation of fundamental human rights.”

Post-graduate students are not finding the payment of the N10,000 damage levy funny. A student lamented that “the management is trying to force us to pay N10,000 damage levy as well as denying us our hostel accommodation.”

Another post-graduate student vowed that “we will use negotiation to ensure that management sees reason with us as we never took part in the riot.”
Business operators in the hostels are not smiling. A food vendor, who spoke in Pidgin, said: “To eat now na wahala. Since den don pursue us comot for our business place life don tire us and to hear say students no dey come back again na em bi say the school wan send us back to our villages.”

A management staff, who spoke in confidence, said: “Students should be happy. For one, if we had kept them at home until all the repairs they complained about are done, months would pass. We are upgrading facilities. They should endure that sacrifice by packing out and allowing us effect repairs for their own good.”


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