President Jonathan, Gov Fayose Booed At Ife Varsity Campus

On-going moves to drum up support for President Goodluck Jonathan’s 2015 re-election bid in the South west suffered a setback as the student community of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile –Ife met his entourage with boos and jeers, apparently an expression of their dissatisfaction with his performance in office.

Jonathan visited the university campus accompanied by Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose, the Ooni of Ife, Okunade Sijuade, and a number of traditional rulers from Ekiti State to attend the Yoruba Unity Summit, organised by the Committee for Yoruba Unity, where he was endorsed for re-election in 2015.

The president had sought to use the occasion to bond with the Yorubas in preparation for the 2015 general election by extolling the achievements of the Yoruba leaders in Nigerian history.

However, the occasion was marred as placard-wielding students of the institution besieged the Oduduwa Hall venue of the conference, protesting what they termed “rot in the educational sector”.

The angry students booed and stoned President Jonathan as he emerged from the venue. With shouts of “thief, thief” and “ole, ole”, they followed the president, brandishing placards with inscriptions such as “We Condemn Jos Killing of Students, Students Are Not Chicken”, Don’t Sell Education As You Sold Electricity.”, We Demand Total Reversal of 2014 Hiked School Fees, We are Not Responsible For Jonathan’s Ineptitude.”

The students, numbering hundreds, barricaded the road preventing thePpresident from proceeding to the school’s sports centre where the chopper which was waiting for him was parked, demanding that he must address them before departing the campus.

Attempts by security operatives who were a part of Jonathan’s entourage to pacify the angry students were rebuffed as some students pelted the president’s chopper with stones.

In a startling twist, the president of the university’s Student Union Government, SUG, Ibikunle Isaac, denied all media reports about the student’s negative reception of the president’s visit to their campus.

According to the SUG president, the president was neither rejected nor embarrassed by his colleagues; they only peacefully registered their grievances over fee raise.

“We read some reports that the President was stoned, booed and harassed when he came to our campus. This is not correct.”

“Security personnel initially prevented us from seeing the president but we insisted that we wanted to discuss with him and we were allowed to see him,” he said.

Speaking further, he said: “I asked Mr. President to come down from the car and address us and he came down. He is our president, we did not harass him.”

Other students, however, disputed this claim, insisting that they really showed their anger at the President.

A student who chatted with our reporter via Facebook, whose identity cannot be revealed remarked that it was strange that the President and his supporters would expect anything other than the “cold reception he was given”, given the institution’s history of militant protest against oppression and government’s highhandedness and corruption in high places.






     

     

    “Mr. Jonathan’s visit to OAU yesterday served two main purposes. First, it further highlights the lack of tact of his government in contemptibly hosting a meeting of the council of Obas on a university campus, in a time when our contemporaries and friends in the North are getting blown to pieces in a similar environment while his government looks on from a distance. Second, more pointedly and following from first, his coming over allowed for a validation, through personal communication, of the illegitimacy of his government. Hence, the way he and his cohorts were roundly booed by OAU students”.

    “In the end, it was as expected. I’m at a loss over the over-the-top reactions that have trailed this event. I’m bemused that some people deemed us disrespectful. That, in itself, is worrisome. It shows that the President and his accolytes in the political class are wrapped in a cocoon, immune from criticism.”

    Another student leader, Taiwo Hassan, also spoke out on the Students’ Union president’s attempt to give a distorted account of events.

    Said he: “A huge crowd of placard-wielding students had gathered in front of Oduduwa hall. The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) banner demanding better education funding was conspicuous in front. Many other groups like the NANS were there who came to show support to the president. I met them drumming and singing but the group of protesting students was the biggest.”

     

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