February 21, 2013 § 1 Comment
The University of Buea has had a turbulent history which has claimed student lives in the past and only recently resulted in the dishonourable act of taking the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Nalova Lyonga, hostage for about five hours.
The events in UB have unfortunately continued to evolve negatively with the recent incident being the teleguided declaration by Fako Chiefs that threatened to use unorthodox methods to eliminate students and lecturers from other regions whom they suspect are forming the crisis to remove the current VC, a daughter of the soil.
The Region may not have been mentioned, nor those who teleguided them disclosed, but everyone knows what is actually happening! It is perhaps necessary as someone who has been teaching at UB since 1996 and spent the last five years as the President of the lecturers’ union (SYNES) to use this opportunity to disclose certain hidden truths to the Cameroonian public about the root causes of the crisis in UB.
I do this because of the fear of God and the need to ensure that for once we chart a new path towards sustainable peace at the University. At the root of the student crisis is the structure the student union government, otherwise called UBSU, should take. For students, it should ideally have a strong executive and a council (legislature). Their mantra is that the executive be elected in a popular vote by all students.
They argue that this is what the students who were killed during one of the strikes fought for and to abandon that will be the ultimate betrayal. Successive UB administrations and VCs alternatively believe in a weak student union government constituted by an executive which is voted by faculty presidents and not the student body. Between these two positions, both parties have never been able to find a middle ground.
To resolve this tension, UB administration has used two methods; they divide students and bribe some of them to support their preferred model and at other times try to force down the new model using selected students without involving the entire student body. The misfortune of this approach lies in the fact that these students who are selected and bribed are sometimes given the mandate by top UB officials to violently undermine their opponents leading to pitch battles on campus.
The various camps have regrettably been also used by certain top management to cause strikes and disturbances on campus using money as the major incentive. Closely connected to this dichotomy is the very sinister reality that students in these camps have been recruited and paid to cause violent strikes (including the hostage incident) to create a situation where a sitting VC is dropped to make room for a rival deputy.
Prof. Njeuma fell from power because students supported by some of her close collaborators made the university ungovernable. The last but one VC had his ultimate demise because one camp of students were actively involved in making the campus ungovernable with the view that he be dropped for those controlling these students to step into power.
When the current VC was taken hostage, I was solicited and succeeded to talk the students into releasing her not however without strong resistance from one of the camps of the students. Their resistance was partly because they did not want me to take credit for causing her release because it will undermine the agenda of their master who organised the hostage taking.
The idea is to once more demonize an existing VC as a failure who should give room to a rival deputy this all the more so since according to them is an aberration for an Associate Professor to be appointed in preference to them. In always trying to accede to power through using students to disrupt normal university life, top management feed their friends in the security with misinformation. Such misinformation will always include pointing fingers at the lecturers union, tribalisation of the events at UB, etc.
To understand the student crisis is to ask and answer the question who is the obvious beneficiary in the situation where a sitting VC is dropped? Only the blind and the hypocritical will identify SYNES and/or its President or UBSU and/its leadership as the beneficiary.
There is a lecturers’ angle to this crisis as well.
The vaulting ambition to be appointed to positions of responsibility (Heads of Department and Deans) is a major weakness in the UB system. Some lecturers will even sell their mothers if that is what it will take to be appointed. Such lecturers are vulnerable potential recruits for ambitious deputies in top management who use them to coordinate camps of students in the hope of achieving their ultimate prize.
Some of them are members of SYNES and are prepared to destroy the union for its insistence on respect for Articles 26, 54 and 74(c) of Decree No 93/034 of 1993, the law creating UB. This law states categorically that the VC, Deans and Heads of Department should be elected by academic staff before the Minister of Higher Education and President of the Republic signs the decree appointing them to their positions.
Although the demand for such elections is a legitimate aspiration, the union has never used underhand methods to achieve this goal. No SYNES official, past or present, has ever benefited directly from the dropping of a VC or Dean due to a strike. To point a finger at SYNES as the author of strikes on campus is to say the least the height of hypocrisy.
The Way Forward
UB administration should engage with the student body to determine by consensus in a give and take manner the method and extent of reforming the union if that is the true objective. Banning UBSU, starving them of funds or using one group of students to hoist a “reformed” student union on campus is an unattainable objective.
Recruiting and cultivating student groups through financial inducements by top UB administrators should be discouraged. One way of doing so is to ensure that academic staff be involved in the selection process of officials to post of responsibility in the university. Government policy of picking a Deputy Vice Chancellor (DVC) to replace a dropped VC is the bane of the crisis in UB.
As President of SYNES UB, let it be known that some DVCs have made subtle offers to me to use the union to foment trouble in the past without success. Guess their objective! Consider the issue of allowing students form prayer groups that pray regularly on campus in the same way as music and cultural groups operate freely. The blood of Jesus can bring permanent peace at UB!
Prof. Michael A Yanou
*BL (Nig), PhD (Rhodes), Fellow, Wolfson College, Cambridge
February 11, 2013 § Leave a comment
The peace that has been reigning on the campus of the University of Buea, UB, for a while now has suddenly been replaced by a strike action. Wednesday, February 6, Executive members of the University of Buea Students’ Union, UBSU, called for a strike action.
In an eight-point memorandum addressed to the Vice Chancellor, Dr. Nalova Lyonga, UBSU is demanding amongst others; that online registration problems in the university should be given prompt attention, that on-campus businesses, especially photocopiers, should be reinstated to facilitate the teaching and learning process, that students should be allowed to seat for examination upon part payment of their registration fees of FCFA 25,000, that the various modes of transcripts should be respected and made available on time to stop exploitation of students.
In the heart of the strike action, the Acting President of UBSU, Ronald Minang, told The Post that students are angry. He gives reasons in this interview. Read On!
The peace we’ve had on UB campus has suddenly gone dead, what’s the problem?
The appointment of Dr. Nalova Lyonga, as the VC of UB, was warmly welcomed by all and we expected that she was going to work for the good of all in the UB community.
But things are not going as expected. Before the current memo in circulation, UBSU has written to the VC five times, calling for negotiation meetings on the problems faced by students on campus. She granted us two audiences but they ended in a fiasco. When we get to the meetings, what we got was intimidation of students’ leaders.
She will end the meetings at their convenience and nothing concrete is done. You will see that there is no dialogue. So, today, Wednesday, February 6, the UBSU executive decided to call for a general assembly of all the students. We did not stop classes; we went around informing the students about the general assembly that had to hold.
What do you mean by ‘intimidation of students’ leaders at your meetings with the UB administration?
They tell us we’re instigating strike actions on campus and if we do, we will be severely sanctioned. For instance, during the collection of students’ dues, the UB campus was militarised and students harassed. The presence of police on campus was not accepted by the student body.
Before this strike action, has your executive met with the UB administration to discuss some of the issues you have raised?
On Monday, February 4, I went to see the VC and she asked me to wait for her at the Board Room of the Central Administration Building. I called for some of the executive members of UBSU and the Faculties to join me, but she came and insisted that she will have an audience with me alone. I insisted that I will stay with the rest of the executive members, she will not accept.
However, I went in and with only three minutes of discussions, I told her that the UBSU executive’s primary concern is the organisation of the UBSU central and Council elections as per the constitution and rules and regulation governing UB. The UB administration has refused to organise the elections and strategising on squashing UBSU. UBSU is the only voice that liaises the students and the administration. You can’t run the university without collaboration from the students.
Why do you think the UB administration is interested in killing UBSU?
We’ve been writing to the VC and she’s not interested in listening to us. We were supposed to have a meeting today, February 6. She called for all the Presidents of the establishment but sidelined UBSU. The executive members of UBSU who have graduated are no longer on campus like the former President of UBSU, Hailshamy Ashu.
So who is she looking for? We have the impression she wants to maintain the old administration of UBSU, who to my judgment were pro-administration and not highlighting the concerns of UB students. If the Ministry of Higher Education can’t squash UBSU, it is not the VC that will do it.
Amongst your grievances, you stated that students be allowed to seat for examination upon part payment of their registration fee of FCFA 25,000. Will that not give students the opportunity to go away without paying their money after doing the exams?
It’s not a situation that started today. For six years, students have been doing the part payment and moving on with their exams. Where the UB administration comes in and timely is for the Level 400 students, who can’t get anything from the UB administration if they have not completed their registration.
You cannot do your clearance in UB if you have not complied with your registration fee of FCFA 50,000. So, if you allow students to pay the registration fee at once, it is difficult for some students and parents. UB is subsidised by the State, so there is room for the administration to be flexible. Students will never get their complete results if they don’t finish their registration fee.
When the online registration started, a lot of students praised it; what has suddenly gone wrong now?
The problems are coming from the UB administration. We can’t come in a day and want to change to a computerised system. We are in an African setting with all the difficulties we know. The progress made by the US was not a day’s effort. We believe that if something has to start, it must go through a process.
In 2010, we started the online registration but it was going along side manual registration, to study how effective the system will be. This year, the system was hijacked, the UB website is too small to carry the number of users. Students have done their best to meet up with the registration process but the problem is with the UB administration.
Concretely, what do you need to get a transcript in UB? You raised it as one of your problems?
To apply for a transcript, you have three options; the normal mode, the fast mode and the super fast mode. For the normal mode, you pay FCFA 1,000; for the fast mode you pay FCFA 2,000 which you will receive after five days and for the super fast mode, you will pay FCFA 5,000 which you will receive in three hours.
Students have been paying in this money, even the super fast mode, since December 2012, transcripts have not been issued. Former students pay FCFA 5,000 to apply for transcripts, yet nothing comes out. We have made formal complaints to UB administration and nothing has been done as we speak. That’s exploitation to my reading. Those problems have to be redressed.
Now, classes are not holding, what do you expect from you Vice Chancellor?
It is simple. We’ve presented to the VC a number of problems. At the general assembly, a good chunk of UB students and the administrators were present. The students are asking for their problems to be solved and they will get back to their classes. Before we left the UB campus, the students’ body made it clear that if the VC does not seek a solution to their problems, there will be no classes till further notice.
Are you convinced the 8-point problems raised can be solved at a go?
Before Dr Nalova came to the show, these are some of the problems we had with the former VC. We thought that she already understood our problems and will solve them. So, it has come to our notice she is not interested in looking at our difficulties.
Since she took the helm of power in UB, UBSU has written to her and she has never replied our letters. UBSU is part and parcel of UB. We’ve to work in synergy but that’s not the case. We’re not informed of what is happening on campus. She has the powers to solve the problems as fast as possible.
How much collaboration do have with the Director of Students’ Affairs to ensure the flow of information across the students’ body?
We believe that the Director of Students’ Affairs has the prime mission to work with students, but this is not the case. The Director of Students’ Affairs has a cordial relationship with the VC, that’s natural, but they go to their offices, take their decisions and implement on the students without studying the effects.
As students’ representatives, what are your expectations?
As at now, the ball is in the court of the VC. If she can redress our problems, all will be fine. The students believe in us. The UBSU executive will never create problems. If the VC can immediately react and solve the problems raised, all will be fine soonest on the campus, especially the elections of the UBSU Central Executive and the Council. Secondly, businesses on campus are a major problem.
In the University of Yaoundé I, they have businesses on campus to ease the learning process for the students. In UB, recently, there was a communiqué banning all businesses on campus. It is bizarre, students are suffering. On campus, notes are photocopied, recto-verso for FCFA 25 but out of campus it is FCFA 50. If we’ve those machines on campus, it will facilitate the learning process.
Are you saying the problems are natural and nobody is instigating UBSU?
During the dues collection, the VC did not give us a voice. She told us dues collection is not compulsory, we accepted and moved on. She has gone ahead and done many things. The problems in UB are artificial. She should realise that UBSU can also play a part in the development of UB and bring us closer to the administration.
We are on the ground and ready to furnish her with information on what is happening. She does not know the details within the students’ milieu. She shouldn’t get into signing communiqués without looking at the repercussions on the students’ body. In the absence of UBSU, the VC will not be there.
Some people have observed that businesses on UB campus is haphazard so there is a suggestion that there should be a business village, where you can get all what you want in a kind of one-stop-shop. Do you share that view?
What you’ve said is very important. That’s what we’ve been telling the VC. She replied; “How did we study during our days?” there are two things; the time she studied and ours are two different periods. She can’t make that comparison of her time and ours. The world is evolving and we need things to facilitate the learning process.
We proposed to her that she should create a village, where it is a business centre and there you will find everything to buy. We told her the businesses spread across the campus are not a good idea. She promised to look into that. It is more than a month, nothing has been done. The students of UB are angry and they need a solution from her.
November 6, 2012 § Leave a comment
The Vice Chancellor of the University of Buea, UB, Dr. Nalova Lyonga has insisted that membership into the University of Buea Students’ Union is not automatic. This has been the bone of contention between UB administration and executive members of UBSU, following a ban by the Vice Chancellor on the forceful collection of dues by UBSU.
At the close of the orientation and academic week, the UB VC, in this exclusive interview with The Post, reiterated that membership into UBSU is not obligatory and no student should be forced into it. Among other things, she talks about her relationship with the former VC, Professor Vincent Titanji. She also promised to deal with sexual harassment in UB, saying it is an abuse. Read on!
From Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Teaching, Professionalisation and Development of Information & Communication Technologies to the Vice Chancellor of UB, how are you finding your new job?
I’m enjoying it. The areas that I am intervening have increased. It is not a problem. It’s really not new. Most of the programmes are familiar. I have to spend a few sleepless nights to get all the files done. It is fine, despite some few stubborn kids that I have on campus.
Looking at the tight schedule you have been going through in recent months, were you aware that this is the kind of atmosphere that awaited you?
I think so! My ambition is to take UB a notch up from where we were; reinforcing research, teaching at the undergraduate level and improve the performances of our students. We know that we are faced with a generation that does not like to read. And what do we do to improve the performance? I knew that there are lots of things we’re going to do. We’re busy on campus to ensure everybody who comes into UB must know what they have come to do. The university is not a place for people to make a home for more than three years.
What kind of UB did you inherit from your predecessor?
I inherited a good UB. There was no problem with that. The former Vice Chancellor insisted on research. He is also a seasoned researcher and his Bio-technology unit is doing a lot for UB. I am happy and proud still having him work in UB. All I am doing is moving up from there.
There have been lots of actions in UB recently…
We’ve been doing online activities in UB for about three years. We’ve some experience in that but each time you come in, there is something new. This time, we added the MTN dimension on the online. All payments by students had to be done online – MTN Mobile Money. It was quite a challenge, but I thank the management of MTN for accepting to come with us, at somewhat short notice. We worked hard to synchronise the two systems.
Next year, when we shall be doing it, it will be easier than it has been. However, it is a very exciting experience. Our students are into the processes and there are no problems. I praise the freshmen because they have braved it; a lot of them have gone into the system and are able to do their registration without tears.
We’ve also been preparing for the new academic year. We had an Academic Planning Week with intensive workshops. We emphasised on teaching methods, especially towards the new recruits we had from the 25,000 job seekers the government recruited. We can’t just send them to the classrooms. We had to prepare them for the Anglo-Saxon styled university that we are.
For the existing lecturers, some old teaching methods had to be reviewed. It was an induction and refresher courses sessions. We also focussed on how to evaluate the student(s), how to use the classroom space and the issue of sexual harassment in the university milieu. We were looking inwards and to see the improvements we can do. Now we are ready to get into the classrooms, get the students to work and pass their examinations.
Observers of UB say the power of the VC stays in the VC’s office and not elsewhere. Where are we with the relationship between the UB administration and the UBSU?
There are a lot of misinterpretations of things. I don’t know if there is any limitation to the powers of the Vice Chancellor, especially when people come in with their own rules. UB is a community like any other and they must have their own rules and regulations.
I have very good relations with the students, there are many of them doing well but there is a group who call themselves student leaders, who do not want to toe the line. Recently, we had a slight disagreement about collecting union dues. They want to collect union dues in their own style; stop students anywhere in the campus and tell them show me your blue, red or black ticket…
It’s not correct. I will not tolerate that. They have gone ahead and printed tickets on their own and stopping students on campus to show evidence of having paid union dues. We discuss with them and tell them, these students are not yet members of the UB family; they don’t even know you, they don’t know what you are offering them, how do you think that they will have the confidence to offer you their money?
We told them we’ve designed the orientation week in a manner that the students and the academic staff will have the opportunity to address the students once the academic staff is done with academic activities. The student leaders will have 15-20 minutes to address the students, tell them what the union is all about, tell them the good things the union can do for them and urge them to voluntarily adhere to the union. Anybody who is a member of a union must pay dues, only after you have paid your dues that you become a member of a union.
You can’t compel anybody to be a member of a union. It is not automatic. There are other associations in UB besides UBSU. A student may want to belong to other associations; he/she may join that association, pay the dues and move on. Nobody or whatever student leaders should take upon themselves to force students to be a member of a union. These student leaders went to the extent of stopping a CRTV live broadcast on campus.
That’s not done! There are certain things that we will not allow on the UB campus. Collecting dues, yes! Nobody has a quarrel with that. That’s why we put them on orientation, talking with their teachers, we didn’t make any distinction. The teachers talk and the students take their cue. After that, the students set up their tables and collect their dues. If the student leaders think that they are going to do it like hooligans, then we say no.
How have you been managing the situation on the ground?
We’ve no problems at all. We made them toe the line. The last orientation session by the Faculty of Science was very beautiful. The student leaders wrote down what they wanted to tell their peers and read it to them. That was beautiful. All we are asking for is order. Anybody who doesn’t like order will have a problem in UB. UB has to continue the way it should be. We’re working as a community, we need to discuss, arrive at what is good for the community.
What does the text from the Ministry of Higher Education say about student union dues in UB?
The Minister says clearly in Article 10 of the text; every student has the obligation to pay his/her membership dues. The emphasis is on MEMBERSHIP DUES. What is membership due? It means a member pays the dues of an association in which he or she is part. You can’t pay dues to an association in which you do not belong. This is what the students have to understand.
In Article 23 of same document, the Minister says that a student may belong to an association recognised by a State institution. When I asked a student leader, what do you understand by this? He told me that MAY means MUST. I don’t know anybody who has studied English who will ever understand that MAY means MUST. The student was talking in front of about five of his Professors in one of the orientation sessions, trying to enlighten them (the professors) about the text.
I told them that there is no contradiction about those two articles. The Minister is saying if you want to join the union or any other association, please; pay the dues of that union or association. But if you do not belong, then you don’t pay. That’s what we’re saying. If the students are brandishing the Ministerial text, then they should read it very well. If they don’t understand it, we will get them to understand.
UB is styled from the Anglo-Saxon tradition, are the intrinsic values of that tradition respected?
There are lots of the Anglo-Saxon values that we’re putting in place. Top on them is dialogue. There is a lot of dialogue around here. I will call it the English-speaking tradition, which prides itself on dialogue. We have different levels that the UB administration and the students can hold that dialogue.
Beginning from the classroom itself; we have class leaders, who take attendance, right up to the departmental level, faculty level and to the central administrative level. These are all avenues for dialogue. That’s the goodness about the English-speaking tradition. There is a lot of debate and sometimes, we even abuse it. People just like polemics for the sake of arguing. We’re doing a lot of discussion out here.
We also have a lot of quality assurance, which is an integral part of the English-speaking tradition. We will continue to do that in UB. In UB, we believe in training the teachers. Most of the time, after the PhD, we simply move into the class. No! A PhD does not make a person a teacher. You have to be taught how to teach. You have to put yourself in the shoes of the learner in order that the learner must understand what is going on.
We believe that there should be freedom, that’s why we’re talking about sexual harassment. So many people want to use the power of the teacher. We have often told the student, don’t be afraid, if there is anybody who is holding you for any reason, report to the Academic Office. Then, it is not that teacher who will mark your paper, someone else will do it. We will always cross check. I am saying that if you are harassed in UB, then you like to be harassed
- Uneasy Calm Reigns At UB “From Regular Campus guards to Gendarmes” (lebs295.wordpress.com)
November 3, 2012 § 3 Comments
It is 1.00 am in the University of Buea, UB, Tuesday, October 23. Gendarmes and policemen, combat-ready, are walking the street into the campus, amid a may-rain may-shine atmospheric condition. Some others of the government security forces are cooling their heels in front of the lobby of the Faculty of Arts.
Others of the mixed contingent of gendarmes and police are either lounging on the couches in the lobby of the Administrative Block or sitting on or walking around the three tractors in the parking lot outside under the shade of trees. Meanwhile, students, especially the freshmen and women, are going about their registration processes, relatively normally.
Notwithstanding, tension is simmering among the lecturers and old students. For the lecturers, it is either the non-payment of the research allowances or the anger they bear over attacks or threats from students. The students on their part begrudge what they term the attempt by the University Administration to frustrate the collection of the Students’ Union dues. A lecturer has described the handling of the situation by UB Administration as “playing with a stick of match in a gun powder factory.”
Unrest Resting On Campus
Two weeks ago, a student, Robertson Suh, stormed the administrative block, stating that he would not graduate without his classmates. He had scored 3.28 GPA and is to graduate come December. He accused one lecturer, Dr. Njimante of corruption and prostrated in front of the Administrative Block, as a sign of protest, having allegedly texted messages to his classmates to join him.
The attention of the Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Research, Cooperation and Relations with the Business World, DVC-CRB, Prof. Victor Julius Ngoh, was drawn. Ngoh reportedly pleaded with Suh telling him that his complaint has been registered and would be looked into, but he wouldn’t budge. The Chaplain of the University, Father Diang, tried to intercede to no avail. Two of the protester’s mates to whom he had texted the message arrived and questioned, they said they were simply told, through the message, to come, without knowing what they were coming to do. They, however, pleaded with Suh to return home.
On their way, just after the first gate from the campus, Dr. Njimante was driving in. Suh allegedly jumped into Njimante’s way and the latter swerved and the car screeched to a halt, brushing Suh in the process. Suh, raining insults, reportedly charged at Njimante but was stopped by UB security guards who had rushed to the scene. A cutlass surfaced on the scene and was seized and, today, is a matter of controversy. While the student claims that the lecturer pulled out the machete from his car, the lecturer claims the student was carrying the machete and pulled it out from underneath his clothes.
What ensued was described by a critic as the administrative dissonance characteristic of UB. Prof. Ngoh is said to have been called to the scene, and he ordered that the student be kept in the security post while he called in the police. Dr. Ludwig Metuge is said to have ordered that Suh be released. Suh was then taken to the campus dispensary upon complaints that he was hit by Dr. Njimanteh’s car.
When Prof. Ngoh returned to the campus security post, Suh was not there. He reportedly went to the dispensary and the attendant said Suh was asleep. He again ordered that he should be kept when he gets awake. Upon return, Prof. Ngoh was told that Prof. Joyce Endeley had ordered that Suh be discharged. Meantime, some of Suh’s friends went and attacked two other lecturers; Dr. Sama Molem and one other. SYNES boiled, spoiling for a strike action to decry what they termed insecurity of lecturers.
UBSU Dues Palaver
Then came the disruption of registration of returning students by UBSU, in their attempt to collect union dues. The Vice Chancellor, VC, Dr. Nalova Lyonga banned the collection. The dues-collecting students reacted by chasing agents of a mobile telephony company who were assisting students to register online, away from the campus.
A communiqué, Ref No. 2012/037/UB/REG/HOS/PAR, dated October 10, 2012, signed by Dr. Nalova, states: “The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Buea wishes to inform that a group of unruly students is forcing potential and returning students to pay student dues to them. Parents, teachers, traditional leaders and friends of UB should instruct their children not to pay a franc to anybody except authorised by the school authorities.
“The student leaders have been given the authorisation to educate their peers on the socio-cultural and educational activities of the Union during a week-long orientation. In this way, students will voluntarily pay their dues.” Nalova warned students who have graduated to “desist from fostering disorder.”
Students, parents and students heeded the order. UBSU went amok, and mobilised for a strike.
The students’ union leaders argue that it is their right to collect union dues, citing Article 23 (4) of the ‘Common Statute Of Students Of State Institutions Of Higher Learning In Cameroon’ which states, inter alia, that: “The student shall equally have the obligation to pay registration or membership dues to institutional students’ associations: the dues shall be instituted in accordance with the rules and regulations in force.”
But critics within the administration argue that the UBSU leaders are only quoting the article of the statute that suits their will. The critics point to Article 10 (2) which holds that: “The student may belong [emphasis on ‘may’] to a students’ association that is recognised by the Head of the State Institution of Higher Learning concerned, to ensure representation and defence of his/her rights. In addition, he/she shall have the right to elect students representatives in institutional associations for dialogue and concertation with the authorities of the University Institution.”
Another university official questioned the essence of the dues: “What does the students’ union leaders do with the money? Do they use it to provide what is lacking in their learning process or to improve on their lot? Since the collection of the dues every year, can you show me one thing they have acquired with the money? Rather, they use it to buy “pointinini”, drink beer and frolic with girls around,” he asserted.
As the students were agitating, Dr. Nalova called for police and gendarme deployment on campus and had the student leader, alias Caesar, arrested and detained by the police.
He was later released on the orders of the VC. Nonetheless, on Monday, October 22, the numbers of the security forces swelled as there was apparent reinforcement by gendarmes.
The National Syndicate of Higher Education Teachers (SYNES), Buea Chapter, made of 90 percent of the over 250 lecturers of the university, at its own end wants the campus demilitarised. SYNES Buea President, Dr. Michael Yanou, fumes: “Using gendarmes and the police as the basis for securing peace, as the administration is arguing, is in conflict with the fundamental policy of university governance.”
Yanou told The Post, October 20 that: “The various laws on the running of the university indicate that the university should be a place for freedom as well as a place for the pursuit of truth and intellectual honesty. Even the Minister of Higher Education has consistently maintained that dialogue should be the key feature for university management.” Last week, the SYNES President and his executive, issued a press release, countering the decisions of the Vice Chancellor.
The press release states: “Whereas the University of Buea chapter of SYNES is conscious of its role as a civil society organisation in Cameroon, as well as its position as an important stakeholder in the university; “Whereas the chapter is committed to the Government policy of fostering a democratic, transparent and tolerant principle of university governance built on the values of consensus, dialogue and peace;
“Following the recent developments concerning the collection of dues by student union officials resulting in the stationing of uniformed and plain clothes police and gendarmes on campus, as well as the arrest and detention of a student leader who disagreed with UB administration on this issue, we resolve thus: (1) SYNES disagrees with a governance system where peace and stability is secured on campus through the use of police and gendarmes or the arrest and detention of student leaders who disagree with the university administration as is now the case;
(2) SYNES believes that the student union is entitled to collect union dues and that the university should support the process so as to encourage a strong, independent and responsible student union government capable of expressing contrary opinion where necessary;
(3) Calls for the withdrawal of the police/gendarmes from campus including those in plain clothes, to create an enabling environment for teaching and research to take place in serenity, rather than the prevalent spirit of forced peace now secured by security officials.” The release was signed by Dr. Yanou as President, Dr. James Abangma – 1st Vice President and Dr. Niba Fontem – Secretary.
Accosted on their double-minded position on acts committed by students, Yanou said: “SYNES is policy-driven. We are parents to our students and must, invariably look out for their best interest, even if a few of them may err from time to time. I had pointed out that the student who attacked Dr. Njimante has a particular weakness.
We are committed to the interest of the academic staff as our paramount objective. But this should not be interpreted to mean that we should fight against UB Administration or students. It is only unfortunate that some overzealous administrators sometimes present themselves as champions of an illusory battle to destroy SYNES.
From a philosophical point of view, SYNES understands some of these things since its role, as the conscience of the university, the voice of the voiceless that makes it express contrary opinion, is not appreciated by some administrators. As for the dues of UBSU, a mechanism should rather be put in place against mismanagement. Denying them the collection of dues is just to try to weaken them so that they can be dependent.
SYNES Forms Ethics Committee
Asked why SYNES has been turning a blind eye to unethical acts by lecturers, Yanou responded: “SYNES has been working silently on some of these issues, culminating in the forming of the Ethics Committee. It is true that some academic staff may be involved in unprofessional acts, which is unfortunate. But SYNES does not condone this. However, as a responsible trade union, we do not subscribe to the idea that when allegations have been made against an academic staff, such an academic staff is guilty of such a corrupt act, without further investigations.
We, therefore, condemn very strongly the tendency by top members of UB administration who are quick to describe university lecturers as corrupt only on the basis of unproven allegations that have been made against them. This, all the more so, as we know as a fact that some very top members of UB Administration have been, themselves, victims of serious allegations of corrupt practices and sexual harassment of both students and junior academic staff and others.
Let me say here that the allegation against Dr. Njimante has not been substantiated. This is in addition to the fact that it has now come to light that the student who attacked him appears to have a well documented psychiatric history. Our Ethics Committee is currently working on these allegations and will make it public when it is done.
On the question on all members of the Ethics Committee commissioned by him hailing from the Northwest, Yanou reacts: “Honestly, as you posed the question, then it occurred to me that they are from the Northwest. When SYNES was preparing that list, it did not occur to it that enemies of the union would put an ethnic and regional interpretation to it. It is profoundly sad that some people must see everything from an ethnic spectacle.
I would, however, have thought that people would look at the qualities of the members and express views about their fitness as members to perform the rules assigned to the Committee, rather than this unnecessary tribalisation. However, having raised it, I acknowledge that I was naive and would be prepared to look at the list, if only to address the sensitivities of enemies of SYNES”. At the end of a two-day meeting, October 22 – 23, Dr. Nalova warned that her administration will no tolerate disorder in the university.
Peace, she said, must reign at by all means. However, observers hold that peace is decreed but earned through dialogue and management of the ingredients that make war or peace. For, it said that the ingredients that make peace are same that make war. The difference is in how they are managed.
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