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Last February, just a few days before Valentine’s, some concerned students of Yaba College of Technology, aka Yabatech, organized one of the most devastating riots in the history of the college, following the death of a female student in the college’s medical centre. The issue then, I think, was that the medical workers had been somewhat passively complicit in the death of the student, who had been rushed into their care earlier, and to whom they had given little or no serious medical attention. I cannot really remember the details of the event, but I recall that everyone agreed that the college was to blame for the poor girl’s death – well, except maybe some members of the college’s academic staff.

Shortly after the news of the girl’s death spread, some students, especially those who had been directly involved in caring for her, promptly organized themselves into a riot group. They toured the campus: went from place to place, building to building, leaving nothing but wreckage in their wake. They weren’t exactly mourners, although it was partly grief that united them; they were pioneers of a serious cause. Many of the students who later joined the rioters hadn’t ever met the girl; some might even confess to having not felt a shred of grief – and they didn’t need to! The rage was just enough. They were all too familiar with the appalling mediocrity with which the many institutions in the college were run – and this is coming from someone who has spent the last two years in the college.

Now, my mission isn’t to justify the cause of the riot, – that, I think, is self-evident – I’m only interested in bringing to light a recent happening which takes its root from that incident months ago: the ‘embargo’ on the final results of all graduating OND students. This ban, placed on the second semester results of this year’s graduating students shortly after the results were released some four weeks ago, a sort of punishment for the sins of the riot, prevents the students from printing the results.

I am still in disbelief of this new development! If we are to look beyond the sheer inanity of this ‘idea’ of punishment, as well as its flagrant needlessness, we are left to wonder: is this really what has become of the once great Yabatech, this sad eye-for-an-eye, or, as some would call it, do-me-I-do-you, business? And, really, whose idea was it?

When I heard the news of the embargo, I was overwhelmed with repulsion and anger against Yabatech! I still am! It seems an act of callousness that I should be made to suffer for a crime I did not commit. Is Yabatech telling me, I wonder, that simply by being a student of the college I have become complicit in every crime that any group of students commits, whether or not I was even privy of the crime? This does not sit well with me. Of course, I understand the concept of collective responsibility, but that does not suggest that I agree with it. Why should a person pay for the crime of another? It makes no sense! Why should a black man in England be convicted for the crime another black man had committed, simply because he is black? Why should American citizens suffer at the hands of Al-Qaeda simply because the American government had fanned the wrong embers? The more I think of it, the sillier it presents itself? There is no justification for it – I don’t think.

Perhaps what makes this so much more maddening is what the formulators of this embargo hope to achieve with it. It is a popular culture that all graduating ND II students apply for Direct Entry exams which enables them to cross over to the university of their choosing to continue their education. In fact, one is expected, as a serious student, to, at the completion of one’s National Diploma, immediately acquire the Direct Entry form. And amongst the prerequisites for the registration for this Direct Entry is the printout of the final semester’s result, in other words: ND II second semester’s result. Yabatech knows this, and that is why it has prevented its graduating ND II students from printing their results. From where I stand, it has two things to gain from this embargo.

The first is simple: punishment. Yabatech wishes to teach the rioters, indeed the entire student body that it is not to be trifled with. So, this embargo is, in a way, a sort of lesson. A way of saying: ‘you don’t really want to mess with me! A popular Yoruba saying comes to mind here. ‘Ti adiye ba dami loogun nu, maa fo leyin.’ Literally, if the hen spills my potion, I’ll break its eggs. What might not be obvious is that many Yoruba people disapprove of the concept of this saying: inequivalent retribution. For really, does it sound fair that when a hen so much as spills one’s herbal potion, the next thing for one to do is to break its eggs? The first thing one should consider is that, unlike us humans, the hen is a creature without logic; its actions aren’t guided by any serious reasoning. And even if it were, does it seem right that the sin of mere potion spilling be avenged with the annihilation of an entire generation – to wit, the hen’s eggs? (If so, then nursing mothers should be encouraged to starve any infant that bites its mother while it is suckled.) But it has become apparent that this concept of inequivalent retribution is precisely Yabatech’s own working motto. It is prepared to let its students miss out of the opportunity to apply for Direct Entry, and thus be compelled to sit at home for an extra year, simply to prove a point.

The other might be even more egregious. Yabatech must believe that if the students are unable to apply for Direct Entry this year, they would be compelled to apply for Higher National Diploma (HND) in the college. And, sadly, Yabatech is right. Many students do not want to sit at home for a year. I don’t want to sit at home for a year. The other day, my friend and I went on campus to inquire about the embargo, and she commented on how sad it was that she just might be coming back here (Yabatech) for HND. ‘You know, I’ve been trying to find something here to look forward to, but I have not,’ she lamented as we approached a canteen. As far as plans go, this is one of Yabatech’s best laid ones. It takes an extraordinary mind to be able to come up with and go through with a plan like this; to not care whose back is burnt, as far as you have something to gain. It takes a political mind.

People say that the country is bad; the government is corrupt, but not many understand just how much. If students, who are supposed to be the nation’s future, have been unwittingly thrust into its ugly political scene, ridding them of their juvenile innocence, then we’ve reached, I think, a point of no return. Last week, I heard a rumour that the graduating students have been charged a fine of 10, 000 naira each, to cover the damages caused during the riot. Now, I know the rumour was false – the rector has been said to have travelled to Abuja to meet with the Federal Ministry of Education and confirm if actually she’s allowed to charge us the fine! – but, then, I couldn’t help thinking: way to go, Yaba! The universities are closing their Direct Entry registrations. I wonder how long it will take for Yabatech to finally release the results; if it wouldn’t be already too late by then. Indeed, way to go, Yaba!

 

Please note that the writer’s name above is a pseudonym. The Identity of this writer is protected. Thank you!

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