Adeyeye Olorunfemi: The student activist
I’m fortunately and unfortunately a Nigerian. I am a student activist, social commentator and most especially, a victim of circumstance just like any other young person.
I grew up in Ogun state; We shuttled between Lagos and Ogun state. Im from a family of Six. My dad is a civil servant while my mom is a caterer. I learnt Integrity, Honesty and contentment from my parents. I inherited gentility from my father and that spark from my mother.
We are in a space where sanity is not fashionable. we are fine with abnormalities. My first encounter with activism was in my childhood. In primary 4, my set was commissioned to write the state exam meant for primary five. Because we were brighter, we took the place of the primary five students. I knew it was wrong, and so even when i scored one of the highest marks in the examination, i was not fulfilled. However, my greatest shock came when the primary students did not even revolt. This was when i knew that the victims of oppression are also accomplices when they keep quiet.
Just like any African child, i grew up in a society where children do not question anything. I asked my principal why we are the ones writing the exams, but of course he ignored me.
Full time activism started for me in Unilag. Before my viral article, i had had altercations with the Dean of Student affairs. One on One encounters concerning lack of power and even water supply. I also had faculty dealings. These were the build ups to the 3 day protest that happened at The University of Lagos (April 6th, 7th and 8th of 2016) where students protested against lack of water and power supply on a large scale. It wasn’t treated and officers of the Police force came to send us out of our hostels. We also protested this.
However we were sent home for 2 weeks and when we resumed, the resolution by the school did not address the issues of power and water, instead we were told to sign an indemnity form and agree to power rationing and the immediate commencement of examinations.
This was the last straw for me. I picked up my pen and wrote the viral article that was to lead me onto another journey.
On the 1st of June,2016 at exactly 10 AM, i received a text to pick up a letter from the departmental office. There letter was not clear. It just stated that i was invited to a discussion and nothing more. So i wrote back requesting for the allegations and agenda(s). After a series of back and forth correspondence, i was headed to the panel.
It was an eight man panel i remember. The enquiries began in relation to the article i wrote. It was thorough. Now this was the thing; The article was signed as Olorunfemi Adeyeye while my student portal introduced me as Adeyeye Femi Johnson. It was easy to win the case at this point if i had denied; but i told them it was me: stubborn me!
I think i got my verdict before leaving the panel. They had expected a naive boy who would come to beg for mercy. But there i was confident; it was simple- A boy like me could pose a serious threat on campus. On July 29th, 2016, i got my letter. It was Rustication for 4 semesters. Other student Union officers got 2 semesters.
There was a court case, but the case was thrown out of course on technical grounds. It was fought both politically and legally. I remember some people also sent me some spiritual solutions. It was ignored of course.
There have been several back and forths to this case. Some even led to my arrests and eventually my incarceration in Kirikiri Prison. I stayed in Kirikiri for seven days. The experience was horrible. It was the first time i saw injustice full fledged. There are people who are condemned. After i left prison, i secured the release of 7 inmates.
We are in a society where our consciousness is very low. We do not see dignity in Labour. People must take charge of their space and until we do these things, our society cannot be well.
They must emulate the Falanas, Soyinkas and Soweres who were fearless and fought against the military rule at a very tender age. If they could do it against the military, how much more a civilian government we have now.
Coming together we can question the system and eventually defeat the system.
~ Adeyeye Olorunfemi