The Patriot Institute of Journalism and Arts (PIJA), Lance Magazine is a public-centric independent media organisation dedicated to fighting injustice, fostering social justice and community development through the telling and retelling of the marginalised-oriented stories.
Note: This story is purely a work of fiction. Any resemblance of names and places mentioned in the story to any personality and place are highly coincidental. — Author
Copyright: All rights reserved. This publication may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the publisher.
First Published in 2022
Publisher: PIJA Publishing Firm
CAMPUS IS A PLACE TO DIE YOUNG
Prelude To Woes
Jazz is underwater
Days like laissez-faire
Manna does not fall
Saviours do not save.
— LENELLE MOÏSE
where our protest sound
AT THE OUTSET, I KNEW AYO IS DESTINED TO DIE YOUNG. I said to my driver, Kolawole as his two scarred hands struggled with the steering wheel, trying to jostle within the crowd found at the PUTECH campus gate. There is a protest. A host of students, with placards, have stubbornly stamped themselves at the gate.
OLUDELE MUST GO! Was one of the inscriptions that at first caught my inquisitive sight on most of the placards.
Another one I saw was: HE IS A LECHER THAT NEEDED A LEASH! HE MUST GO!
“He is my very good friend.” I said as I tingled my neck, “I don’t know why Ayo is capitalising on what he did. Must he be sacked? He is a father, too.”
My driver was silent. He has been stopped by the throngs of the fiercely-laced crowd. Mere looking at their demeaning demeanors, those sharp gazes, piercing through the tainted windshields of my car; one would decode instantly the basis of their demands. Justice. They struck their tightly-clenched fists to the air, shrewdly so that it appeared the only symbol to best apprised their demands. Some of them as I beheld their lids, I quickly gazed away. Those lids were grave and dreary. With glisten of a brightly-coloured redness, they daggered suffering and bitterness. I couldn’t agree, more, these students are frustrated. Only frustration can rob you off reasoning.
“But, why do you say Ayo is destined to die young?” Kolawole asked as his rheumy eyes glared at me through the front mirror. He leaned backward and his Ilorin tribal stripes became vivid, “There must have been things you’ve seen?”
I scratched my dapple grey moustache, leaned forward and flapped my youthful hands open, “Ayo, for the students is doing a good job. But, for us, that good job is a bad job.” I hiccupped and scratched again my moustache. “I don’t quite get it, but, he is diving into some secret things these days. The instance of Dr Adegoke and Mr Oluseye of the Faculty of Science who recently faced panels and were forced to be suspended are proofs to that.”
“Ah! Why was that?”
“Ayo caused it.” I defiantly answered, as I craned my neck to still behold the gyration of the students. “He exposed that they are selling handouts. Management also played innocent. So they bargained with him, they don’t want both of them to be sacked. The reason I don’t know. But, they begged him to not make it public. They asked him what he want in return. Ayo asked them to refund all the 150 students that paid in the class. Management said they can’t, but instead suspended both lecturers. Ayo was not pleased however, he has no choice at that point. After that, he moved on to dig on Sex-for-grade issue. And this is where he caught Oludele first, while still pledging he has other evidence against other lecturers. Now by this, Do you think, they will allow him to live, knowing their reputation is at stake? He is even the reason we cannot sell handouts again in PUTECH, if he caught us, we will be in trouble of the government.”
“Hmm, I pity him, he has no one beside him.”
“That is normal for the truth sayer, but he will pay.” I said as I hide my neck in a pronounced shrug, “It is just like I don’t know what he will use to pay.”
There was no response from Kolawole.
I noticed his bloodshot mien, it clearly gave his thoughts away. I don’t know what he was thinking, but, I think he is not in line with my thoughts. I felt it now, just as the way I had since some days ago. I think, I will change him, soon.
I yawned. It has been a while my car, alongside many others has been stopped. We cannot go back, we cannot move forward; we are just stuck in this highly-congested road because of a mere agitation on an interest of the stupid idiot. Ayo, huh! I shook my head pitiably and flipped my wrist, my Rolex watch beeped the time. It is 12: 30pm.
Kai! This is terrible. I am rushing for a very important meeting with the management. The meeting is slated to start by 1pm.
I wafted my gaze to my left. Ayo was what I first saw. He was on what I will call a demonic blackened alutarian tweed suit. Gallant and sturdy. With his monster’s eyes, he is always different. Though, he identified himself as common, he is different. His attire on a protest ground first gave him away to be different. Who wears cooperate English dress to a protest ground? But, he doesn’t care.
He perched firmly on a metre tall brick, on which was scribbled: Welcome to Patriot University of Technology. Motto: Excellence, Justice in Character and Technology.
Obviously, he just mounted the brick. With a megaphone on his right hand, He balled his left fist and fiercely shot it to the air. He is ready to deliver himself and what other froth and fume he had in him. He had declaimed himself into a violent heat and was as hoarse as he was hot. By dint of roaring at the top of his voice in a flaring noon, clenching his fists, knitting his brows, setting his teeth and pounding with his arms—with sweat taking a dotted turn on his corrugated forehead; He had taken so much out of himself by this time that he was brought to a stop and called for a bottle of water. But he refused. His patriotism perhaps says otherwise. Well of perspiration crinkled his face as it exhibit grief and stern concern.
Throngs of students high-pitched their cries in various orotund noises of frustration, bitterness and desolation. If Ayo say one, they will say four. They are tired.
But by this time Ayo mounted the brick, He is ready again to let out all the energy within him.
Since I was there, I had been watching them from the winded up windshield. It was as though, I am seeing a voiceless live show. More like a pantomime. But, I don’t want to do that anymore. Now that Ayo is about to speak. I want to hear him, at least, to have more reasons for us to deal with him seriously. I quickly unwinded the windshield of where I seated and A hot dusty breeze sharply wrinkled my brittle face. I coughed, sneezed repeatedly but I am bent to achieve my aim. I don’t give up.
“Great Nigerian Students!” Ayo hollered.
I leaned backward.
“Great!” Again. Loud cries arose in many voices from various parts of the densely crowded, suffocatingly and sunny campus gate. The eagerness both of attention and intention crinkled all over their countenances. They are ready to hear from him. At least, from their messiah—SUG President, again.
There was a perfect silent.
Then, he began, “My fellow downtrodden mates. My fellow Comrades of an iron-handed and a grinding despotism! It is happening, again. Our right, our says, our will, our worth, our ego, our life is getting itself sacrificed on the altar of our calloused management. If we fail, the coming age of students will fail. The hour has come, I tell you,” He coughed and continued, “The hour has come for us to fight again. For our right, for our freedom, for our worth, for our academics, for our future, for our mates and for our Comuradoship.”
“Why am I saying this? Management has failed us. The VC of PUTECH has failed us. Despite the vivid evidence, the press of the nonconformists groups over Mr Oludele’s case, a Lecturer in Art and Design Department who failed students on purpose because he want to shtook them. Our dear Institution said they are still investigating. Truth be told. We know their games. Since, they are birds of a feather. They will cover themselves. They did that to Adegoke and Oluseye. But, this time, we no go gree. #OludeleMustGo. We need to rise. We need to rally round one another as one united power and crumble into dust the oppressors that too long have battened upon the plunder of our academics, upon the sweat of our brows and upon our lives. We say no to oppression and injustice. We say no to sex for grade. We say no to unnecessary charges. We say no to malpractices perpetrated by lecturers. Assault of our females. We say no to all. We are students, we are humans, we are not animals. Today! We’ll march forward around the campus and carry the spirit of Aluta with us.” He paused and squatted but not completely to his heels, “Weee M-u-s-t B-e V-i-c-t-o-r-i-o-u-s! Aaaaluuuuuta!” He spiritedly emphasised. To the point that lines of veins stretched around his stiffened lanky neck. He clenched his left fist along and shot it in the air, twice. Later. He unfurled it and wave it instead to his back that was since facing the Institution’s gate.
A stampede broke out. Students have understood his signs at a flick of brows. They marched forward to the Senate Building. And while on their way, they kept chanting:
They don’t even bother cars kept waiting. The security at the gate were also powerless.
I watched them as they went away.
Instantly, I shook my head and muttered, Ayo is a mistake to this Institution. And I had said this many times. I even apprised my perspectives to many others. But none were ready to listen. Then. They were lost head over heels for him. I knew it. Ayo Adekunle is the devil of our era.
“Let’s go.” I signalled Kolawole. He started the car and drove pass the exodus of students.
I got to the Senate Building five minutes before the slated time of the meeting. The chant of the protesters’ agitation kept resounding, loudly. But thanks goodness. Security operatives. Lions Squad, SSS, DSS and Police have mounted the surroundings of the building. I am glad. At least, they will maintain the peace until our meeting, ends. I am sure, the meeting of today is about Ayo. No doubt. But our security is top of the priority.
I entered the Conference Room stooping my largish back. Everyone is already, seated. It appears I was the only one left. But, I wasn’t. Dean of my Faculty, Mr Ige Omisakin entered as I did. No one even bothered talking about my lateness. There is fire on the mountain. I noticed faces countenanced with grief, anger, and frustration.
No doubt, the signal is clear.
“I believe no one is unknown of the Issue at hand.” Professor Bodurin said with his eyes suspiciously looking over the top of his eyeglasses as I sank on one of the chairs left empty, silently. His head was as if was grabbed, hooked and shot forth; his protruding neck diagonally bent forwardly. “We are pressed and pressured and while Mr Oludele,” he pouted his lips, “remain the bone of contention, my hands are tied because he is the relative of the commissioner for works and Education on students affairs in our state, here in Orun. Abi! How can we sacked him?” His lips slightly parted ways as his hands flapped discretely. Even, the state government doesn’t buy the idea we sacked him. But we must do something or else, these students will result to crisis.
“What do you suggest we do, is there really evidence to back the claim against him up?” Dean of Faculty of Science, Ogungbile asked to lampoon, I guessed. But, if not, I wondered why will he ask such question. Of course, he knew the evidence is real.
Oludele was filmed differently where he threatened female students because he want to sleep with them and even when he was doing the act. First was one of Ajoke who gave in for him because she doesn’t want to fail, but she did. Second, Tolu whose class governor gave her out. Aminat, Shekina were also among. The greatest of it was that he raped a 100 level student in his office but, he never knew the lady filmed him when he swung her to a foreplay.
All these, Ayo had managed to got and made them available to the public. So, Ogungbile would not say, he hasn’t seen them.
“The evidence, whether true or false isn’t the basis now, if I may say.” PRO glanced with a current swift across everyone’s faces. His croaky voice pierced through the loudest silence in the room. “We need to act fast. We need to act on Mr Oludele’s case and as well teach this A.A. some sense. Enough of his menace.”
Quiet murmurs, for some time, captured the moment. “True! We need to deal with him.” I concurred as the murmur dialled down. “Since his inauguration, I had knew he will bring no good to us.” I scratched my moustache. “He is indifferent. He uttered shits which, to him are goals to achieve. To me. His goals are warlike to the management. He has declared war against us since then but very little of us knew about this.”
“Hmm, A.A. really disappointed me.” Dr Ajibade exclaimed as he pressed his lips into a thin line. “It is very bad! With his gullible act, the institution is in a deep mess of the Press and the world.” “
Liar! I mumbled. Mr Ajibade, is a chameleon within us. He is the Dean Student Affairs. I knew him in and out. He is not for us neither against us. He secretly pledged his support for A.A. Even when he knew most of us want Subair Kadafi to emerge. We knew Kadafi will be what we want him to be. Unlike A.A, so arrogant. So Determined. So Visionary. So Vicious.
“A.A. is trying to outshine us. He is doing as if he is the lord of the institution.” V.C’s adenoidal voice flogged me into consciousness. His goggled eyes dilated as two dark circles in them glistened brightly. I watched him closely, I knew A.A will not escaped this blow. V.C is angered.
He flickered his brows, “Now, it seems, no students have faith in us…”
“No, No, No my V.C sir,” Barrister Ogunjinmi slurred in with his throaty voice. He is the registra of the Institution. “I don’t think students SEEM to not have faith in us; they don’t have faith in us again, simple. They don’t fear us, again. Anything…” He paused as he swallowed, I guessed the last available saliva on his mouth. His piggy neck made a slurping sound. “A.A. is the answer to their issue. Anything,” he repeated, “A.A is the answer to their issue. Very bad!”
“This is a big blow on our savant faces,” V.C. grimaced, “what do you suggest?” He snapped his gaze towards the centre of the V-shaped table before him. “We must rescue this issue while it is still young.”
“Torture!” I said. “We need to torture him for doing such. How can he dare to do such things without informing the authority…, I am sorry to say, he did ridicule this sittings. He has put his hands in the dragons lair, we need to bite him.. No…”
“True,” Dean of Science interjected to concur. “Now with what he did we have to be answering series of questions from the media. Don’t forget, Oluseye and Dr Adegoke and the circumstances that led to we not selling those course materials again. My fear is, if care is not taken, it is Oludele, now. I wondered who it will be next?”
There was an eerie of silence. Aside from the hissing of the air-conditioning, no sound were heard. Everyone went dociled like the one recently struck by an electrical current. All eyes dangled with fear. And mine wasn’t exempted. We all not saints. Truly, Ayo will not survive this blow. No one loves to be threatened. Feelings of threat brings frustration that usually lead ones to act irrationally. Everyone loves to protect face. I pity A.A.
Hmmm! V.C. cleared throat. “Anyways, after thought, I alongside the top management have come to the conclusion that though we’ll punish A.A. we have to do something on Mr Oludele so to shut the lips of the public and still maintain the standard of the Institution. Because if we fail to quench this low heat, it will grow to an inferno that will burn us all. We will suspend Mr Oludele.”
The last part of V.C’s statement dowsed the tension in the room and swiftly, substitute it with pity. Silence descended again to the room. But the whizzing air-conditioning buzzed still.
“Over time, we’ll discuss how to deal with A.A.” V.C. broke the silence, as he leaned back to the deep-blackened chair he sat upon. He flickered his brows to the direction of Mr Attahiru Rafiu, “PRO let your office draft the circular and the suspension letter, immediately. Inform the media about it, as well. The meeting is dismissed.”
V.C. stood to made for his way, but there was a sound that pinned him to still. A guttural tone blared from his brightly-coloured italian shirt’s chest pocket. It was a fling from his Iphone 10. He dipped his deceptively-gnarled fingers into his pocket, stiffened his head while discharging a jagged gaze to the razor screen. His eyes blinked twice as he cast a lazy stare on the screen. Obviously, it is an important call. His brow furrowed while his countenance pulled. He adjusted his purple tie and his flowery lapels, straightened his gaze and leaned slowly backward to the thin air. He is ready now to answer the call.
The voice at the other end could not be heard, but by the display of him, it is clear, V.C is on to any of the high-ups. I sensed it.
“Oh! The die is cast but I can…wait…where…” V.C stammered as he slowly find his way through the brightly lit room. His head bent still while his forehead slightly oozed some dotted sweat. The air-conditioning blew harder but the walls bellowed a brittle purity. The deafening sound of his shoes soles, jangling on the dimly-coloured ceramic tiles in the room, was the only vivid sound, left. But soon, everything slightly faded away. What’s left is a story for another day.
NOTICE FROM THE AUTHOR’S DESK:
Many thanks for reading through.
Please note, next episode
in this series will be uploaded
on Saturday 8th January 2022.
Thanks. Stay tuned — Enoch Oyedibu