As I put down this article, the spirit of comrades at the University of Nairobi has just been stabbed by an indefinite closure of the institution. At least I’m glad we shall have our peaceful town back with a little less traffic today.
For the record, the students went to the polls last Friday to elect union officials. The elections were followed by claims of rigging and interference from the administration.
Since Friday the top cream of the society, at least academically, have made State House road and part of Uhuru Highway a no-go zone, to protest the elections. Our future leaders, researchers and business leaders have behaved with a lot of impunity, stoning the cars of their future employers – forgetting that they will need them soon.
I hear there are two principals in the centre of this mess.
To play to the gallery and the spirit of the grand coalition, administrator Prof George Magoha could initiate negotiations between the rival camps. Since the administration is accused of interfering with the elections, the ‘negotiations’ will be a good way to end the stand-off and allow students with little regard for the union to go on with their studies.
I suggest he calls a press conference, announces a new all inclusive SONU and appoints a mediator.
I guess these kids have learnt from their political fathers who started their careers at college unions. The 2007 general elections act as a good lesson, they are just keeping with the trends.
For those who are not aware SONU controls a Sh20 million kitty. Being elected to the union comes with a pay package, free accommodation and board, besides the spillage from the political scene.
The August referendum presents another reason why one should join the union. There is potential for horse-trading, what with the clamour for red or green votes.
Should the talks hit a dead end, Prof Magoha can then go on to option B: ban SONU for life!
For starters, student unions are the least of the reasons why students are in University in the first place. It is simply an avenue to champion for their interests, which are so basic, a simple suggestion box would suffice. But as the rumours going round suggest, what is at stake are political and economic matters and not students’ interests.
Those who have gone through this institution will agree with me that the organisation is just but a club for the officials to enjoy some good living, and hardly benefit the students who finance it.
The decision to suspend SONU by the senate falls short of the answer. Let these young ones concentrate on what matters most, education.
And building the University at the City Centre was a terrible mistake in the first place and something needs to be done urgently. If these students cannot behave, I suggest that the institution is relocated to a desert in North Eastern.