I remember the day Great Ife students arrested and detained an SSS operative for fourteen days. His partners in crime of invading Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile – Ife luckily escaped.
Their ‘suicidal’ mission sometimes in June 1990 was to come and arrest / abduct our own evergreen famous Comrade lecturer , Dr. Dipo Fashina, ‘Jingo’ right on the soil of Great Ife, with 16,000 and 1 ever articulate radicalized Great Ife students on campus when I was the Students’ Union President and Chairman, Students Revolutionary Ruling Council (a brand I created to define our leadership’s Marxist – Socialist Ideological praxis.
The school had just resumed after a month closure as a result of a peaceful and legitimate national protest to demand for increment of students bursary from N500 to N2000. This was some days before the Gideon Okar’s aborted coup
Before we resumed, our union had been illegally proscribed by the university authority but we had also responded through a press release that our students union was not a cube of sugar that could be dissolved at random. Our offices at the students union building (SUB) were sealed with campus security and SSS operatives keeping vigil.
On the second day of resumption we gathered enough political strength to lead about a hundred of revolutionary conscious “Aluta Brigade’ to liberate the SUB from “invading allied forces” of the State and the school. The operation was code named: “Closed Circuit Democratic Struggle” The defiant operation was successful as the exco fully resumed into our offices henceforth.
The university authorities were very careful with their measured response to our challenge because the postponed examination was to commence that week of resumption. We too were tactful not to immediately go into major offensive to de-proscribe the union because of the exams but we were conscientising our students as I started addressing students in groups, in halls of residence and in lecture theatres while studying for exams. The responses were encouraging with the assurance that students were ready to defend their union and leaders for the course after exams.
Although the university did not recognise us but they were responding practically to all our letters to the VC, Prof. Adeniyi Osuntogun on welfare and academic improvement on campus. Grasses were being cut, campus lighted, water supply was becoming adequate among other complaints in our letters .
The mood started changing as witnessed in the first symposium after exam held at Awolowo Hall. Jingo attended the symposium against all odds and threat to his life. More so that two other prominent members of the “Ife Collectives” Prof. Omotoye Olorode and Dr.Idowu Awopetu, radical Marxist lecturers had been arrested during the forced closure and framed for encouraging Okar’s coup. Can you imagine that?.
As we were mobilising students to defend the independence of their union and for the release of Comrades Olorode and Awopetu, we knew that the campus had been fully militarized and we wrote to complain to the school.
My arrest and Jingo’s would be a matter of time. The campus was getting more tensed with over 70 percent of students now fully back to identify fully with the students union. The tactics started yielding positive results.
Apart from symposiums and congress meetings, I introduced some programmes to expand our support base since there were many students that we would not get at rallies and symposiums.
Social programmes like “Aluta Emotional” – an open air music & dance carnivals were organised fortnightly at Awo Hall, Angola Car park, Fajuyi hall where best dancers were given tickets for free food, drinks, barbing, hairdo. At the same time we introduced inter-faculty football competition. At every event, myself, other exco members and popular student comrades would address the gathering to prepare for imminent showdown with the State and the school authority as events unfolded.
The delicate cat and mouse game continued until the “golden opportunity” presented itself with the abortive arrest of Dipo Fashina who incidentally was the most famous lecturer among the students.
I was in my office having a strategic meeting with some comrades from my ideological organisation, SCAP (now DSM) when a member of our Students Intelligence Service (SIS), Comrade Ortega with some students rushed in to inform me that Jingo had just escaped from being abducted by operatives of SSS and one of the abductors had been captured by students with one of their vehicles impounded.
By the time I got to the humanities block with some comrades and crowd of students, I met a perplexed university”s “constituted authority” confused of what to do in the midst of thousands of over mobilised students that had seized initiative from the school authority.
Anarchy was in the air as the captured SSS guy had been beaten beyond recognition. Seeing me with the loud ovation that greeted my arrival, Prof. Odesanmi, the DVC, (a fine gentleman and medical doctor, representing the VC who was not around) Mr.Popoola, Registrar, and Captain Obayomi(rtd) knew immediately that the non recognition of the students union and my leadership was a futile ill-advised decision..
In panic the DVC and the always hostile Registrar soberly approached me that i should please address the restive students to release the captured SSS guy to the university and dispersed.
I quickly replied them that: “since the university authority was claiming that it had banned the students union in what capacity would I be addressing the students”
After much pleading and persuasion , I mounted the podium to address the mammoth crowd of students and workers as students union president, again pronounced the union unbanned and directed that the SSS man should be marched to the SUB for proper investigation after assuring the university that nothing untoward would happen to him.
The union was fully back as balance of forces had shifted in our favour with the Jingo saga.
As the bruised man was being led to the SUB by the triumphant congress of the students, the shout of “Jingo, Jingo, Jingo” rented the charged atmosphere. A reflection of his adoration by overwhelming majority of students and workers.
I set up an investigative panel headed by Comrades Bamidele Aturu and Kola Odetola to conduct immediate preliminary investigation .
The report confirmed the SSS criminal abduction plan of Dr. Dipo Fashina as freely confessed by the captured one. After that, the SSS ‘convict’ was transferred to Awo hall and finally to his final “detention cell” at Angola hall where he served his detention term for two weeks under the watchful eyes of volunteer student vigilantes to prevent his escape. All because of students affection for Jingo
By the second day, other committees like Welfare, Medical, Security, Publicity and Information were set up to see to the good upkeep of our unwanted guest and Information update to our students and the nation.
Trust Great Ife students, the impounded vehicle, a Peugeot 504 car was repainted with the inscription: “Great Ife! Thanks to SSS” written boldly on the car which temporarily served as my official car for the period of seizure. But we dared not drive the car outside the campus!
The university as directed by the military governor of old Oyo State, Col. Abdulkareem Adisa called for a ceasefire so that the detained SSS operative could be released. The university’s CSO came to my office to invite the executive for a meeting with the authorities. But we insisted that an official letter of invitation should be written to the union to that effect. Since the union was said to have been proscribed by the university, they had no option but to first officially unban our Great Union that day and followed it with a letter of invitation
Meeting with the subdued constituted authority of the university after two months of defied prescription of our union was really a triumphant entry to the VC’s lodge.
At the meeting, I spoke from the position of political strength and moral authority as a ‘General of Aluta Forces’ who kept as hostage a ‘Prisoner of War’ that had confessed on tape and even implicated the university authorities in the abortive abduction of Dr. Fashina.
After much pleading and assurance to de-militarise the campus by the authority , we promised to release the detained SSS guy who incidentally had gained weight due to adequate feeding and care by the union.
As promised, we released the “Prisoner of War” to the VC the next day after two weeks of his detention and the impounded car to the CSO.
The SSS guy was full of praises to the union for saving his life and according him a VIP treatment with access to newspapers and socialist books while in detention.
After the episode, Dr. Fashina, Jingo, the consistent brilliant Socialist intellectual literally transfigured into a deity of sort, loved, respected and protected by the entire student population and workers.
Now at 70, Jingo deserves his rest one may say, but the Jingo we all know and admired will never rest from struggle until class oppression is defeated because Struggle is his Life.
Happy birthday to our indefatigable priceless and ever committed Jingo! Jingo!! Jingo!!!
Aluta Continua, Victoria Acerta!