Life Patron or Mock Funeral: ‘Confusing exit’ of UNIOSUN Vice Chancellor, Prof. Labode Popoola
Anytime a native of Osun state is privileged to direct the affairs of a teritary institution, he or she does not end well. I know my submission is harsh and probably not accurate because I have not been privileged to see or read about great Osun indigenes who are heads of academic institutions and are doing wonderfully well in their respective offices. If we truly have Osun indigenes who are in position of authorities and are not embarrassing us, I seek their forgiveness.
The outgone vice-chancellor of the prestigious university of Ibadan, Abel Idowu Olayinka who is an indigene of Ilesa, an ancient town in Osun state did not leave office well. He was not only ridiculed out of office but his exit caused a lot of chaos as a result of several manipulations, powerplays and successor’s crisis. Workers of the prestigious university organised a mock funeral, pasted his obituaries, swept the entire floors of his office building, fried beans cake and danced happily to celebrate his exit from office.
If at all, allegations levelled against him are false and untrue, atleast we know and read how he supervised the explusion turned suspension of Ojo Aderemi, a former SUG president of the institution. Before his exit, I wrote a piece titled “the caterpillars of University of Ibadan” where I used the biblical tale of Goliath and David to advise him after he described the suspended SUG president as a short guy with no beards. He ignored the warnings from the holy temple, turned deaf ears to the sounds of whistle and ended up being hunted.
Just like Prof. Abel Idowu Olayinka, other heads of institutions in Osun state are not saints. His likes exist in teritary institutions across the state and Nigeria at large. From the Osun State College of Education, Ilesa to College of Technology, Esa-Oke to Osun State Polytechnic Iree to Osun State University, Osogbo; it has been a tale of wolves in sheeps’ clothings, messing around with mandates, ridiculing their offices with unnecessary patronages borne out of greed and useless desires. Both ‘Labayo of OSCOED Ilesa and Labode of UNIOSUN’ are broken mirrors of educational advancement. Truly, this article is meant to analyse the confusing exit of UNIOSUN VC, Prof. Labode Popoola. So I would not want to bore folks and readers with sorrowful tales of how illegal miners have taken over yet-to-be used lands of the Osun college of education especially the extent of degradation. Now, let us discuss the confusing exit of UNIOSUN VC.
Yesterday, I was with a close friend who happens to be a graduate of Osun State University, Osogbo when the pictures of mock funeral of Prof. Labode Popoola surfaced on the internet. He showed me the pictures which he recieved from one of the school whatsapp groups and he laughed heartily. I watched the clip and I saw the relief, joy and unlimited happiness on peoples faces. They were glad, happy and free. Have you ever watched the moment caged animals become free? I have watched many. I was once in cage and I know what freedom means. I browsed through the group to read peoples comments. People who did not participate in mock funeral were happier than the participants. Someone commented with a lot of love and smile emojis. There was a particular member who nearly jumped out of the group out of joy. Indeed, it was a double-edge feeling. As worse as Abacha was, he still has some supporters same as Popoola.
Shortly after the video of the shameful exit went viral, another video surfaced on the internet. Some students come together and make him a life patron of their association. Let us ignore the scanty population but lay more emphasis on the pronouncement.
There are six arms of representation in any functioning teritary institution namely the council, the management, the students union, the academic staff union, non-academic staff union and the senior staff union. They are pillars that hold the school together but the students union is the most harassed. They are the direct casualties of any misunderstanding between the pillars.
Some months ago, I wrote a piece titled ‘Osun State University of Exploitation’. I decried the low presence of infrastructures such as lecture halls, laboratories among others and asked the management to work closely with the government to lessen the burden of the students. Who are the major victims of exploitation? the students. Who were denied infrastructures to ease learning? the students. Who are direct casualties of maladministration and authoritarian rule? the students. Who made him life patron of their union? the students.
It is embarrassing. A close friend while reacting to the development said it is not surprising but embarrassing. He described the givers of the honor as children of hunger, slow thinkers and friends of oppression. I did not argue nor contest it but I told him that I am more interested in the matter than condemning it.
What could have made the oppressed crowned its oppressor? Only the organisers of the ‘cashout’ can explain to the teeming students, graduates and lovers of the growing university. Atleast students who see Prof. Popoola as a clog in the wheels of the university’s progress deserve to know. Both teaching and non-teaching staff of the institution who stormed out enmasse, rejoiced and organised a mock funeral deserve to know too. Yet there are some critical questions I would like the organisers of the honor to shed more light on. I believe their answers would not only assist us in understanding them better but would also help us to understand better their position.
Students make up the union. It can not exist without the students. They are not only members but direct owners of the union. Any individual privileged to lead the union is not only the president of the union but the chief servant of the students. Why did students union pronounce Prof. Labode Popoola a life patron against the wishes of its members?
Did Professor Popoola molest the union? Yes, he did. Did he molest students? Yes, he did. Was it carefree? Yes, he was. Osun State University has many satellite campuses and I have visited three. The satellite campuses in Ipetu-Ijesa, Ikire and Okuku are in sorry and deplorable state. The main campus is only different in administrative building and lecture halls that are already failing. Why did UNIOSUN students union take side with their oppressor?