THE CURRENT STATE OF MSSN UNILAG
In writing this, I consider it as a way of fulfilling my own part of the collective obligation which the current scenario thrusts on us all – both Muslim students and Muslim community members. In the course of this I had to put up with the genuine concerns of some fellow Muslim students who feel that people like me might be marked and dealt with by those in position of authority for expressing ourselves. While like many other ordinary students, I am not unaware of the possibility of such as already expressed in the utterances and body language of some ‘powerful members’ of the Muslim community – my consolation remains that I am out for a lasting solution which is all-inclusive and one that guarantees peace, harmony and brotherly love among all Muslim students on Campus. I think for this, no sacrifice is too much!
The Unfortunate Plight of UNILAG Muslim Students
Needless to mention the series of benefits that have eluded the hapless Muslim students during this period of anarchy and power tussle among different groups of Muslim students on campus. Robust Academics activities hitherto organized under the banner of MSSN have become grounded. And there appears to be currently no alternative tutorial sessions as it used to be. Similarly, regular avenues for bringing Muslim students together under one umbrella in the faculties, hostels and even at the Central level are all rapidly becoming forgotten while each group is busy stealing the opportunity to canvass students into their camps. The hands that used to cuddle, teach, guide, aid and provide supports are missing as aptly expressed in a poem of one of the unhappy students. Encouragement meant for the Muslim Students on their academics through scholarship and the forum of Muslim scholars is hanging for this session. ‘MSSN is gone forever’ is on the lips of some while some others are just mute hoping to follow the trend of events.
The Undesirable Roles of some Lecturers within the UNILAG Community
Apparently the current scenario only reveals the MSSN UNILAG is a victim of power play by some interest groups in both the school management and the Muslim community. While the problem which erupted into the present crisis may have been there for a while, there are suggestions (plausible ones for that matter) that It may not also be totally divorced from the outcome of current political power configurations and re-alignment in the state.
Indeed nothing confirms the influence of these myriads of forces than the polarization and happenings within the bye-law review committee itself. Or why would a committee set up by the school be taking specific instructions from some vested interests within the Muslim community as to how to act when clear cut directions have already been spelt out in the committee’s terms of reference. After all, is the outcome of the review not supposed to be subjected to subsequent approval of the larger students’ congress before coming into effect? The current scenario regarding the affairs of the MSSN UNILAG is indeed sad and worst still are the ignoble roles being played by some individuals who have turned the students into object of settling old scores among themselves.
Setting up students against themselves –especially when the students fully know this can only be counterproductive. While the recently ousted administration were accused of sole domination and having external influences, another group – The Peace Loving Group (PLG) are also seen by some students as having being created by the office of one of the new staff advisers with inputs and considerable influence from the Islamic Studies department which students/some lecturers are said to be strategically repositioning themselves to subsequently take over the control of the MSSN UNILAG.
In all these the only losers are the Muslim students! How unfortunate it is that it is the students organization that has been burdened with the load of such unsettled grievances, mutual suspicions and hostility. Indeed this is one burden too much!
While Muslims are Fighting, Christian Evangelism Continues!
It is sad that while the Muslims are busy scheming for only God-knows-ends the Christian community continues to march on their never-ending mission of poaching on Muslim students and turning them away from the right path. While Muslims are busy fighting over how-to or how-not-to control and have influence over MSSN as if it is war booty, Christians on campus are busy extending their realm of influence and domination. Or what better way is there to demonstrate the so called outside INFLUENCE on the Christian students than the latest coming of notable Pastors in Nigeria – Pastor Oyedepo and later Pastor Adeboye. Despite the much vaunted ‘No Noise Policy’ of the DSA’s office, their programme took over the entire campus as if the President of Nigeria was in town.
Noteworthy however is the fact that, we have never heard the Christian community make moves to stifle the activities of the Christian students. Or is that the Christians students don’t exhibit similar youthful exuberance like any group of youths will naturally do? How come the Christian elders and community leaders are able to manage their own youths without outsiders knowing? Rather what we have consistently seen from them is the overwhelming support and solidarity for the activities of the Christian youths as demonstrated recently also by the massive mobilization they did to protest the ban on conversion-of-lecture-rooms- to preaching-centers saga. I guess they are simply acting in deference to the wise saying of the Yoruba elders that: “Decapitation should not be the appropriate remedy for a chromic headache”
An All-inclusive, Fair and Transparent Process: The Way To Go
We heard that some interest groups once muted the idea of detaching MSSN Unilag from its parent National body by rechristening it into a local student association under UNILAG. Thank God that such myopic idea was eventually dropped for only God knows how much more it would have compounded the problem at hand. Rather what we should be rooting for collectively is the promotion of all activities and options that foster love, unity, cooperation, accommodation and healing of old wounds among the students and Muslim community members.
I have therefore decided to examine some of the options available towards this end by way of analysis and these are:
SCENARIO I: Shurrah Option
This represents the typical scenario by which previous regimes were appointed for a long time. However we should not forget that it was the same Shurrah system that some students saw as excluding, discriminatory and teleguided from outside – thus culminating into protest and rejection leading to the current status quo. Consequently the fundamental challenges of this, in this period of shortage of trust include: How will such Shurrah be constituted?, shall it be based on number of groups currently agitating for inclusion only (and who says other groups cannot spring up tomorrow and on what basis shall they be excluded if current ones are recognized)? How will the Head of the shurah be determined and what shall be the roles of the Staff adviser(s) (supervisory or observatory)? How would a consensus be reached in the shurah committee concerning its decision on a particular candidate? These are some of the issues that may likely come up with the above option and same which require careful consideration and dispassionate evaluation as to its workability and suitability in this situation.
SCENARIO 2 : Muslim Community Imposed Option
This is also a feasible and likable scenario where the Muslim Community may modify and customize the outcome of the bye law review committees to suit its workings or potentially cut to size the ‘excessive powers and independence’ which the erstwhile MSSN is perceived to have been wielding over the years. A situation like this will necessarily require the use of combined force of ‘real’ threats and Subtle Intimidation tactics to ensure students conform to this option. While this option gives the shortest path to the attainment of the Muslim Community’s goal of curtailing and controlling the MSSN, however it gives no guarantees of any lasting success as it could easily provoke a mass revolt among the Muslim students against such perceived ‘Hijack’. Regrettably it might be seen as Hijacking MSSN from a VESTED external INFLUENCE bloc only to be given to another VESTED INTEREST bloc. Indeed this option may not be the most advisable one and I am sure it is not likely to be supported by respected men of letters within the Muslim community. However there are disturbing news making rounds among students. If the information going around is anything to go by, there appears to be indications that the Muslim community may have kick-started this process having been ‘reported’ to have summoned the leadership of the Bye law review committee and ‘instructed’ them specifically on what to include to ensure the domineering influence of the Muslim community in the final report to be submitted to the DSA. I hope this is not true!
SCENARIO 3: ELECTION option
This could appear to be a novel option given the background of what MSSN had operated with over the years. Nonetheless it could be the most practicable and most realistic one given the current atmosphere of mutual suspicion, distrust and rivalry among the various camps. This will mean that all posts shall be contested in general elections, after nominations are made into various positions. All interested Muslim students shall be eligible to participate in this election once duly confirmed as bonafide students of Unilag. Accreditation shall be done by the use of School ID card while the whole process shall be supervised by a monitoring team from the school. If worked right in a transparent process, this option is capable of producing a more generally acceptable executive cabinet to pilot the affairs of the Muslim students.
However, I am not unaware that some members of the Muslim students may race objection as to how ‘Islamic’ or otherwise this option is. Apparently this option would have eliminated the problems of mutual suspicion and partisanship in the Shurrah option and would have given the students common sense of satisfaction in having taken active part in choosing their leaders and not being imposed upon. Similarly, the Muslim community would have successfully mid-wived a successful transition of the MSSN under their very control and supervision.
I will therefore implore the school to be proactive in action as no one can determine the extent of students’ exuberance.
Finally, I know to rebuild MSSN again will be a thorough and tough task even if the new set of executives were to emerge but my appeal to all Muslim students on campus is to cooperate with one another in making this happen and do away with any form of selfish partisanship they might have because united we stand, divided we fall.
Culled from nairaland