OAU Bedspace Commutation: Whistle blowers, the management and her students -By Israel Dara Sobaloju

Filed under: Democracy & Governance |

Photo Taken At A Male Hostel, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife

Lex iniqua les non est (Latin: An unjust law is no law at all) – St. Thomas Aquinas

May 19, 2015, I was sitting down on one of the 5000 stony chairs in Obafemi Awolowo University Amphi theatre as a fresher in the bastion of learning and development of cultural values. One of the best things that Pierced my heart and left a mark was when the Dean, Students’ Affairs of the university – Dr. Mrs Durosinmi during the course of welcoming us to the university said “in this university, I will advice you that when you are faced with the option of protecting your right and interest on this campus, rather choose to protect your interest.” On hearing this exonerating exhortation, I became confused until I check into a gloss, which dignified the words with a revelatory expression. Rights are morally right, while interest is what what you find solace in because of your personal advantage.

It was clearly stated in the university’s accommodation rules and regulations that no student on any occasion should be found selling or buying the school’s allocated Bedspaces. But one question you may constantly think about – why this rule? Is it for the benefit of the students or the management themselves. The back-and-forth of Bedspace has been an annual practice on OAU campus. In which one of the excuses given by the students is that such act helps to inure the inadequacy of the Bedspace available. This annual ritual has taken a new turn to this year, as students who are lucky Bedspace owners has decided to feed on the students – who has no Bedspace need.

Nobody ever thought the case will reach the level of seriousness it is presently, with whistleblowing involved in the past two days. Information flying around the school’s social media atmosphere has it that anyone who sees or notice any student bartering his Bedspace should alert a particular number, and such person will be rewarded. I was startled when I saw this information not because of whistleblowing, but for the punishment – expulsion the parties involved in the trade will face. What a grave punishment one would face for trying to survive in a complex environment. Is the so-called offense justifiable? Can I disobey laws and order because I want to survive?

*The Management – Big Brother OAU?*

Who’s to be blamed for this menace may not be question with a unified answer. The management since the inception of the university should be responsible for the success of their students both academic welfare and all other related areas. It’s unspeakable to know that OAU has at least 32,000 students taking full time courses in the university per session. But it’s quite unfortunate that the school can only provide for just about 10,000 – about 32% of them. What plans do they have on ground to Carter for the remaining 68% who can only leave in about 1.2 kilometers away from the closest lecture theatre. In a country like Nigeria where citizens live on less than 1 dollar per day spending at least N100 on transport fare daily is cold-blooded, not considering the recently hoodoo on the black stones leading out of the school (Road One). Rules that are against the right of the majority, that does not give a course for it to he obeyed, Martin Luther King Jnr. Said one has a moral obligation to disobey, but one must be ready to face the consequences. I am saying selling of Bedspace is justifiable? No, but if the management want to make such a painstaking law, the students welfare should be considered. A lot of students sleep in lecture theatres and church auditorium, but will the management rather love to write obituaries instead of Letters to the government?

*Students – The traders*

Why are we incapacitated to obey laws we vow to abide by on our matriculation ceremony. Are we recalcitrant or just son of Belial? It’s a programmed activity in the human to disobey laws they can not fathom. Students want to make their parent proud, they want to graduate with good grade, to do so they must enjoy a good welfare. But the students carry most of the blame as some of us – the seller have found solace in exploiting the students need. Just some hours ago, I saw an illegal advert online that a Bedspace in Moremi hall is N85,000 and its not negotiable. What? Just to buy – (which is rentage in the real sense) a Bedspace for approximately 7 month for such fleecy amount of money. It is a sledgehammer act, to sell a Bedspace one got for just N2590 for N85,000. It is rear in this contemporary world to see a business that will yield 97% of the money invested just in two days. In some male hostel, there was a skyrocketing increase in the price of the Bedspace from last year’s N37,000 to N50,000, there’s an inflation of 35% just in few months. It is plethoric everyday I read through my WhatsApp messages and see this Baroque prices. Just because my fellow human is less privileged in an aspect of life, its wrong to capitalize on their need to exploit them.

*Whistle blowing – The Legal Business?*

Martin Luther when fighting against discrimination said *”I became convinced that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as it’s with good.”* Reading through this, I came to the understanding I became convinced that this new Job maybe the most legal. It may not be evil when we sell our Bedspace, but it becomes it when we sell it for inhumane prices. It is a great evil to be a saprophytic agent on a poor body. Whistleblowers are being promised a free Bedspace and a safe identity just to declare people who sells Bedspace for their glory. To announce their evil deed, I only saved a life from exploitation, which makes me cooperate with good and fulfil my moral obligation.

Will you rather save a soul at the expense of 22,000 students without Bedspace and almost one-third of them sleeping in uncomfortable location. Someone may want to talk about the evil of whistleblowing. Who’s the Mephistopheles and Beelzebub, the management who made a law without giving it oxygen to thrive, the students who sell Bedspace for over 80% more than the price they got it or the Whistleblower who corporate with good and announce their evil deed, judge it.

Israel Dara Sobaloju is a journalist, Change Campaigner, Public Affairs Analyst and Student of Obafemi Awolowo University, reach him on 07037954874