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Published On: Thu, Mar 14th, 2013

Delta Poly Students Protest Rector’s Imposition of Candidate as Union Leader ….Accuse Rector of inflating hostels rent

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Delta Poly students protesting

There was commotion and disruption of business and academic activities today as students of Delta State Polytechnic in Otefe-Oghara, Ethiope West local government area, staged a huge demonstration against their rector. In interviews with our correspondent, several of the protesting students accused the rector of plotting to impose Victor Igbakpa, her own candidate, as the new leader of the Students Union Government (SUG).
Several sources said an underlying issue has to do with high rents members of the community charge students. They also alleged that the rector owns several rental apartments in the area. Some of the candidates in the election had reportedly promised to pressure the state government and school administration to build more hostels and rehabilitate some existing ones in order to spare students the exorbitant rents many of them pay. They claimed that the rector owned several rental properties in the town, hence her support for a candidate from the community to support the status quo.
Today’s demonstration lasted more than five hours, said a trader in the town who disclosed that he was one of numerous business owners forced to close shop to avoid possible harm to their businesses or persons.
Students said the trouble began during the accreditation of student voters between 9 a.m. and noon. According to two students, some school officials, acting on the instructions of the rector, Clara Sogbaike, flooded the campus with touts, thugs and members of the community vigilante. “Mrs. Sogbaike brought in these intimidating men in order to ensure that the candidate she favored will emerge as the new SUG president,” one student said.
Other students echoed the account. They said that, as the election neared, they had been living under fear and intimidation from members of the community who made it clear that a candidate who was an indigene of the community must be elected – or hell would break loose. A student alleged that indigenes of the town had beaten one Comrade Ola and Samuel Oyi reportedly for opposing the rector’s and community’s favored candidate. Another student source stated that a computer science student named Adehin Olaniran was similarly assaulted last weekend around 10 p.m. after his assailants dragged him to the community chairman’s house. The sources said other students had also fallen prey to beatings, accusing the rector of failing to act.
In fact, numerous students stated that they suspected the rector ordered the beatings in order to get her way. “It is shocking that a rector will act this way in this day and age,” one student critic said.
“As the institution’s head, Mrs. Sogbaike had warned that unless one Victor Igbakpa, who is her own candidate, is planted as the SUG President, there would be trouble,” said another source, a student activist. There were two other candidates in the race – Imene Odiri and Raymond Love.
According to a final year student, “the animosity between the students of Delta State Polytechnic, Otefe-Oghara, the management, and the indigenes of the community finally reached a climax today.”
Students said Mr. Igbakpa was favored both by the rector, some other members of the management, and town indigenes. They added that Mr. Imene, who happened to be the only non-indigene candidate, appeared to enjoy an edge among student voters.
Several sources said the rector unilaterally cancelled voting when she realized that it would be impossible to rig in her candidate since the students seemed extra vigilant. “Seeing that there was no way to rig, she cancelled the election,” a student activist alleged. He added: “She then disclosed that she would set up a caretaker committee to be headed by her candidate. The students vehemently resisted the plan.”
One student told SaharaReporters that protests would continue until the rector and other school officials respected their right to choose their leaders. She said the irate students have decided to disrupt the polytechnic’s forthcoming matriculation, scheduled for Friday, March 15. “We will ensure that the matriculation is sabotaged all cost failure until the rector enthrones the students’ choice as the SUG president,” she added.
Another student confirmed the plan to continue the protests in some form. “Now the students have taken a stand against the committee and the forthcoming matriculation on Friday. Our cry is ‘No SUG, no matriculation; no matriculation, no exam.’ We don’t want any caretaker committee.”
A lecturer who spoke to SaharaReporters lamented the spate of violence introduced by the rector. “It is shameful that a rector of an institution should go out of her to make this kind of mess over what one can call ‘common SUG election.’” The lecturer added: “Let me be candid, the real reason students don’t want Victor Igbakpa is that he is not considered vibrant. And he has no intention of talking to the school about resuscitating the hostel at AT&P that can accommodate more than 2000 students. The price of house rent here is nothing but hell. Meanwhile the rector has many private hostels in the town and doesn’t want anything that will disturb her business.”
The lecturer bemoaned the rector’s draconian style and poor leadership. “The polytechnic has been in existence for the past 12 years, yet it can’t boast of a single bank or students buses.” He added that the rector should allow students to conduct free and fair SUG elections before this week’s matriculation. “They don’t want any form of caretaker committee or appointment of the SUG executives. And they don’t want the rector or community meddling in their affairs,” he concluded.
Later today, two students alleged that some hoodlums were firing in the air. “I think they must be searching for those opposed to the rector and Victor Igbakpa,” said one student who said he had gone into hiding.
Mrs. Sogbaike did not respond to calls and text messages.
Source: saharareporters

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