REMINISCENCES: — ALUTA CONTINUA! … How university students peacefully scuttled government’s political agenda

REMINISCENCES: — ALUTA CONTINUA! … How university students peacefully scuttled government’s political agenda

REMINISCENCES: — ALUTA CONTINUA! … How university students peacefully scuttled government’s political agenda

Wrangling or contention should naturally be expected to feature in every organized setting. All human beings cannot reason in like manner.  Disagreements arise globally every second as a result of an inordinate love for power, superiority of views and actions as well as relevance exhibited by humanity. Many times, disagreements would have been averted through extra reasoning, tolerance, and accommodation of views and opinions. It is important for all sides to issues to look for solutions to common problems that have the potency of causing dislocations to peace. 

No society could develop successfully in an atmosphere enveloped by disorderliness. Clearly, something is wrong when everybody thinks the same way about issues, events and conducts of personalities, given the principles of objectivity, subjectivity, as well as selective perception and retention that combine to shape human thoughts.  The government and the governed must avoid working at cross-purposes. Government must cultivate the citizenry. Conversely, the citizenry must cooperate with those pushed into positions of leadership.

It is also important that people who advise leaders in both the public and private segments of the society do so dispassionately and honestly so that leaders are able to make decisions that are for the common good. This goes beyond political and corporate governance to include the home and friendships and involves communication between wife and husband. It would certainly be helpful if we all agree to be honest in our dealings and embrace selflessness instead of selfishness.

 Before the main story that shows great patriotism and accommodation of the right of others to express their views of issues that are of common interest, we bring you some quotes that promote peaceful coexistence.

WORK TOWARDS HAVING PEACE — WORDS OF THE WISE

  • I think that nonviolence is one way of saying that there are other ways to solve problems, not only through weapons and war. Nonviolence also means the recognition that the person on one side of the trench and the person on the other side of the trench are both human beings, with the same faculties. At some point they have to begin to understand one another. Rigoberta Menchu, a Guatemalan and Nobel Peace Prize Winner
  • Our problems are man-made; therefore they may be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings –  John F. Kennedy
  • Every thought, every word, and every action that adds to the positive and the wholesome is a contribution to peace. Each and every one of us is capable of making such a contribution. Aung San Suu Kyi (Nobel Peace Prize 1991)
  • It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it. – Eleanor Roosevelt
  • So let us persevere. Peace need not be impracticable, and war need not be inevitable. By defining our goal more clearly, by making it seem more manageable and less remote, we can help all peoples to see it, to draw hope from it, and to move irresistibly toward it.” ~ John F. Kennedy
  • Let us not accept violence as the way of peace. Let us instead begin by respecting true freedom: the resulting peace will be able to satisfy the world’s expectations, for it will be a peace built on justice, a peace founded on the incomparable dignity of the free human being.  — Pope
  • John Paul II
  • When we dehumanize and demonize our opponents, we abandon the possibility of peacefully resolving our differences. – Nelson Mandela
  • Violence never settles anything right: apart from injuring your own soul, it injures the best cause. It lingers on long after the object of hate has disappeared from the scene to plague the lives of those who have employed it against their foes. – Obafemi Awolowo
  • My parents are natives of Eastern Nigeria, the arsenal of republicanism in Nigeria. Although I am Ibo, yet I speak Yoruba and I have a smattering of Hausa. I am now Premier of Eastern Nigeria, the land of my fathers, which lies five hundred miles from Lagos and almost a thousand miles from the place of my birth in Zungeru, in Northern Nigeria. Each of our three Regions is vastly different in many respects, but each has this in common: that, despite a variety of languages and customs or differences in climate, all form part of one country which has existed as a political and social entity for fifty years. That is why we believe that the political union of Nigeria is destined to be perpetual and indestructible.  –  Nnamdi Azikiwe
  • When this day in October 1960 was chosen for our Independence, it seemed that we were destined to move with quiet dignity to our place on the world stage. Recent events have changed the scene beyond recognition, so that we find ourselves today being tested to the utmost. We are called upon immediately to show that our claims to responsible government are well-founded, and having been accepted as an independent state, we must at once play an active part in maintaining the peace of the world and in preserving civilization – Abubakar Tafawa Balewa
  • ‘’Violence has never been an instrument used by us, as founding fathers of the Nigerian Republic, to solve political problems. In the British tradition, we talked the Colonial Office into accepting our challenges for the demerits and merits of our case for self-government. After six constitutional conferences in 1953, 1954, 1957, 1958, 1959, and 1960, Great Britain conceded to us the right to assert our political independence as from October 1, 1960. None of the Nigerian political parties ever adopted violent means to gain our Azikiwe, it was, who stated that: Ma political freedom and we are happy to claim that not a drop of British or Nigerian blood was shed in the course of our national struggle for our place in the sun. This historical fact enabled me to state publicly in Nigeria that Her Majesty’s Government has presented self-government to us on a platter of gold’’. –. Nnamdi Azikiwe

 STUDENTS PROTESTS – HOW SUPERIOR ARGUMENT BY STUDENTS PREVAILED FOR THE COMMON GOOD … A sizeable number of students of tertiary institutions, these days, have no time for niceties of studying deeply and hard, and at the same time create interest in issues that are of public interest, by decoding properly, the stimuli from the society. Instead, they are ever ready to protest perceived ills through demonstrations that every so often turn violent, designed to invite attention to their plight or the issue under focus. But the trend in modern times needs to be corrected because ideally, no form of demonstrations must be violent, if the intention is to invite attention and possibly enforce corrections.

The history of protests by university students in Nigeria is a mixed grill of success and sadness. Success because in 1962, students of universities behaved peacefully and patriotically by protesting against the Anglo-Nigerian Defence Pact that was eventually never signed by the Government of Nigeria. Undergraduates in Nigerian universities moved over to Lagos and engaged in peaceful protests, for government to halt the signing of the agreement with the British government because they reasoned that Nigeria and Nigerians’ freedom might be impaired. As a mark of responsiveness, the then federal government listened to the students.

Government reversed itself and the agreement was never signed. There was no flexing of muscles. It shows that reasonable non-violent interventions by students could succeed, without resorting to violence. That action of Nigerian students demonstrated responsiveness and patriotism. They were able to do so because they were knowledgeable about occurrences in the country and beyond. Times have indeed changed. There has been a sharp decline of readers and people interested in knowing about how actions that shape the present and future are taken. Most parents no longer read. Most parents also no longer pay particular attention to the development of their children and wards. The major consideration at all levels is how to corner the wealth of society.

Almost 60 years after the memorable peaceful protests, our campuses have witnessed violent protests that have sadly consumed lives and property as students battled law enforcement agents. The interesting account here is the novelty introduced by the University of Ibadan undergraduates in the early 1960s during the politics of bitterness fought with every conceivable  malice. An interesting revelation made by late Apostle Hayford Alile, which is published in the Vanguard Newspapers indicates that late Chief Michael Okpara, then Premier of the Eastern Region during the Western Region political crises was threatened not to visit Ibadan to deliver a lecture at the University of Ibadan. Michael Okpara was invited by the University of Ibadan students. But the Western region government ordered that Okpara must not set his feet on the land of Ibadan.

PEACEFUL CONDUCT OF STUDENTS THAT RESOLVED THE STALEMATE  Arising from the above, what did the students do? They conducted themselves reasonably and avoided confrontation. They never fought or engaged in violence. According to Apostle Hayford Alile, who was at the time an undergraduate of the university: We were prepared to support anybody then, but the only man that we saw as a patriot was Michael Okpara, then Premier of the Eastern region. And we invited him to the University of Ibadan only for late Chief S.L. Akintola to send messages across on radio that Okpara was not welcomed in Ibadan or anywhere in the West. We (University of Ibadan students) replied him that Okpara had a right to land at the Ibadan airport which is owned by the Federal Government and students were prepared to carry him shoulder high from the airport to UI, a Federal Government institution without his foot touching the soil of Western Region. Apostle Alile’s disclosure published in the Vanguard Newspapers quoted Alile as revealing that: ”And true to our promise, when his plane landed in Ibadan, we carried him on our shoulders from the Ibadan Aerodrome to the University of Ibadan — a distance of about two kilometres – and his foot did not touch Ibadan soil.”

Very comical you might say. But that was how Nigerian students of that era, clearly more matured and cerebral than the present generation, defeated the government that said Okparas feet must not touch the soil of the Western Region. All they did to obey that order was to carry Okpara from the Samonda area of the then Ibadan Airport, to the University of Ibadan, a distance of about two kilometres. As ordered by the government, Okpara’s feet never touched the soil of Ibadan or any part of the Western region. Very amusing, but that was a clever way of defeating government and also avoiding violence.

 

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