When Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife former Student Union Government (SUG) President, Akinola Saburi was admitted in the year 2000, he had no feeling that he would not graduate on a record time.
His involvement in campus activism was what held him on campus for additional eight years.All started in 2003 when he was elected as the Secretary General of the students’ union and along the line, he became an acting president of the union when the incumbent president, Akinkunmi Olawoyin, was sick and could not perform his official duties again.
Saburi’s administration was said to be in constant face-off with the school authority on issues bordering on students’ welfare.
The union, according to investigations, always demanded from the authority to put things like accommodation problem, high tuition fee, overcrowded lecture rooms and hostels as well as policies they considered oppressive in the right perspective so as to make their studentship a worthwhile experience.
And at a time when there was no positive response, the students embarked on protests and the management fingered 13 of them as ring leaders including Saburi and consequently expelled them from school.
The students challenged their expulsion at the Federal High Court in Osogbo, Osun State, and the court ordered their reinstatement pending its judgment.
“But when we got back to school, we were advised to plead with the authority to reinstate us fully and this was granted on the condition that we must withdraw the case from the court,” Saburi, from Yewa North Local Government area of Ogun State, recalled. And after the pardon, according to him, some of them bowed out of unionism but Saburi and a few others did not.
So in 2006, Saburi popularly known on campus as “Malcom X” contested again for the office of the president of the union and one hour to conclude the election and announce the results, the school authority came up with a release circulating round the campus that Saburi was still on suspension.
Expectedly, the students’ union objected to this position, arguing that such explanation was too late since Saburi had already done his course registration, issued a valid student’s identity card and contested the election.
Because the students refused to dance to the tune of the authority, a fresh expulsion order was slammed on him. To enforce this, Saburi was arrested by the officers of the State Security Service (SSS) and arraigned the following day at a magistrate court on a 10-count charge. Saburi left the detention exactly on March 12, 2008 and was at home for one year and one month before he was recalled by the school authority to continue with his studies.
Saburi was asked to write an apology letter to the authority and provide guarantor letters from a first class traditional ruler, a senior lecturer and a student leader on what they called “his good conduct” before he would be allowed back in school.
Saburi returned in 2010 and still spent another three years due to the prolonged 2012 nationwide lecturers’ strikes and the students protest on campus. He came out of the university with Second Class Lower, the grade that is considered to be for above average students at OAU.
“I am happy to be graduated eventually while at the same time, I have no regret whatsoever over my actions. I considered my punishment as a sacrifice for a better tomorrow,” he said.
Source: Acada Loaded