Saburi Graduates After 12 Years In OAU

The Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, is synonymous with radical and progressive students’ unionism, which has made many of the student-activists to be victimised, suspended, expelled and jailed for standing against oppressive management and government politics. Saburi Akinola, a.k.a. Malcolm X, is, unarguably, one of such students. The man, who was admitted in 2000, to study Agricultural Extension and Rural Development, was unlawfully detained for close to eight months. His incarceration generated heated criticisms from local, national and international media. In this interview, ‘Malcolm X’, who had his National Diploma at the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro, shares his experience with Sikiru Akinola, 300L, Political Science, OAU..
e has been deeply involved in struggle before coming to OAU, as he was the National Speaker of the National Association of Engineering Students (NAES) in Ilaro. His antecedents in his part one days earned him the Secretary General of the Union in his second year on campus.

“I’ve been ideologically equipped before I became president. Handling the pressure was not a big deal because I’ve been part of it since the initial stage,” Saburi said when asked how he was able to combine academics with aluta.

Asked whether having to spend 12 years on campus to read a course would not be a setback for his career and life, as age is no longer on his side, he quipped: “Well, you are right about that but when you look at life in the real sense of it, the first question you should have asked is; why are you here? I believe personally that I’m here for a purpose. I’m aware that there is always a price for everything.
There is no regret that we’ve paid the ultimate prices. The fact that I have spent 12 years is not due to the fact that I am not intellectually solid but because we insisted that our people should not lose their voices; they should not lose their capacity to say no when things are not going in the normal direction.

“I have no regrets! The people oppressing us – government, university authorities- are slaves; they don’t have what it takes to confront the truth. It is not how far, but how well. In the real sense of it, I have not lost any year. Apart from being a student here, I am into Information Technology; I have done some certification courses in IT. and I make bold to assert that I am far ahead of many of my contemporaries. Also, I have been able to live a fruitful life as I am committed to serving humanity.”

On his source of inspiration, despite the intimidations and victimization, he said: “For me, I derive satisfaction and enjoyment from doing it and I believe that I have been destined to do so. So, the driving force has been personal conviction. An activist is someone that is deeply interested in the affairs of his immediate community to change the status-quo. By joining all progressive movements and programmes, you are on the way.”

Speaking on the proscription of the Students’ Union in OAU for the past 19-months, Malcom X stated: “It does not affect Ife alone.

And you can trace it to the collapse of the fighting tools since the last decade. We had the NADECO, JACON, CLO, CD, ASUU, NLC and CDHR during the military junta. They were very vibrant and always at the forefront of all struggles, but unfortunately, when you look at the country today, you will see that there is a total collapse of these aforementioned tools; there is a decline in their activities. And that is robbing us good things because the unions used to be very vibrant and you get sympathy from other organisations outside the campus.

I remember him being the Secreatry General when I was in 100level in 2002. Small,unassuming, tiny-bodied but deeply focused young man. He lost the OAU-SUG Presidential bid 3 times before eventually becoming the president when I was in 400level. And the same year was the beginning of this sad story of unduly long journey after clashing with the school authorities…But I am glad he is done now…and he is being celebrated nation-wide. Big Congrats Sabur! May your days be long! Aluta continua…

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