The Vice Chancellor of the University of Buea, UB, Professor Nalova Lyonga has reaffirmed her commitment for dialogue as the only tool to solve the problems affecting the institution. This comment was made during a press conference that held in the Boardroom of the Central Administration Building of the University on Tuesday, February 12, 2013, attended by public and private media outlets. The press conference was convened by the University Administration to divulge information on recent student disturbances, and to clarify the position of the University.
Reacting to the Student Union strike action, Professor Nalova Lyonga maintained firmly that the University of Buea cannot and will not be controlled by a few individuals who practice politics of the stomach. “We cannot have a University where a handful of students decide to govern 17,000 students,” she quipped.
She equally told the press that students ought to know when to give their questions and wait for answers, adding that, nobody has the right to suppress another, whether a Dean, Head of Department or Deputy Vice-Chancellor. Students, she said, are not the bosses of the University administrators and they must learn to be patient, while their queries are being examined.
The UB boss used the press conference to explain to the media that the constitution of the University of Buea Students’ Union (UBSU) has never been ratified by any administration in the University of Buea. UBSU, she reported, had never had the courage, respect of hierarchy and courtesy to submit their draft constitution to the University administration for review as required by law under the Ministerial and Presidential Texts establishing the University of Buea.
According to the VC, there have been numerous strikes staged by students because the Executive Members of the purported Students’ Union have never accepted to deposit a copy of their constitution to the administration for necessary examination.
In a follow up, the Registrar of the University, Professor Samson N. Abagma said it is only in the University of Buea where strikes are organised by a handful of students, adding that in other state Universities of the country, strikes are called when the general assembly of students vote in favour of a strike action.
Prof Abagma added that “UBSU constitution has never been recognized by the University of Buea,” stating that unless a lasting solution is given to the problem of UBSU’s legality, UB is doomed for perennial anarchy and abuse by irate students and opportunists.
Prof Abagma reiterated that “students in the University of Buea do not have a clear understanding of what a Students Union should be within the Commonwealth. UBSU are fighting for themselves, because the money in UBSU is never accounted for.”
According to a communiqué dated February 4, 2013, the administration of UB had invited student executive members of all Faculties and colleges, alongside members of the outgoing UBSU Executive who are still students, to attend an urgent meeting on Wednesday, February 6, 2013, with two items on the agenda: preparations for the February 11, 2013 Youth Day Celebrations and Student Union elections.
Prof Abagma said the administration of UB was taken aback when the VC was held hostage in her car for over five hours that same day when a meeting was scheduled to take place at 13.00 hours, by irate students refusing to use dialogue to resolve grievances.
Professor Victor Julius Ngoh, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Research, Cooperation and Relations with the Business World, provided clarification with documents bearing the signatures of UBSU members harassing business proprietors on campus, collecting rents and leasing university land. In one of the documents distributed to the press, UBSU leased university land in the heart of the campus for 1,500,000 FCFA upto the year 2019 to a business person without consultation or authorization from University Administration. According to Prof. Ngoh, ‘this is scandalous and abuse of the laws of the republic, and misuse of university property.’
According to Professor Nalova Lyonga, before the disturbances on Wednesday, February 6, 2013, no formal demands were received from the students, just tracts that were littered on campus, citing demands such as:
- The reinstatement of photocopiers and businesses on campus.
- Extra credits be granted to students.
- Elections of all the arms of UBSU be conducted as early as possible.
- Students should be allowed to read on campus through the night.
- The various methods of applying for transcripts on campus should be reorganized,
- Students should be paid 3000 FCFA for taking part on 11 February celebrations, etc.
- Discussions on the modalities of the elections of UBSU will begin on Thursday 14 February 2013.
- Photocopiers on campus will be regularized, with each Faculty Student Executive managing a maximum of three photocopiers.
- Designated Amphitheatres will be made available for reading until 10:00 pm only, for obvious security reasons.
- Students who registered to march on the National Youth Day will be given the usual 2500 FCFA per student.
- With the purchase of two new printers to replace those that had been broken down, the production of transcripts will improve.
Towards the close of the Press Conference, the VC and her immediate collaborators revealed that investigations are underway to fish out some members of the teaching staff who are instigating unrest on the campus of the University of Buea through the Students’ Union. In her words, ‘the full arm of the law shall be brought to bear on these lecturers. It is time for the law of the land to take its full course.’
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