We shall be dealing with a very important aspect of the Aluta struggle
today, even as we celebrate the yuletide. I am hopeful that this
message meets us in peace so that even as we celebrate the
Christmas and end of year festivities, we can also have clarity of mind
to read and grab the message in this writing.

In every human endeavor, there are rules governing our actions and
inactions, and sometimes these rules are unwritten, but are generally
established as conventions. In the Aluta struggle, there are basic
Rules of Engagement, otherwise referred to as ‘the 3Cs of the
struggle’ to wit Consultation, Consolidation and Confrontation.
In the event of any issue arising in the course of student leadership,
no matter how critical and urgent, it is important that the 3Cs must
be observed.

Let me break it down with practical examples. During my time as
President of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Student Union in September
1999, upon seeing the notice directing students to pay school fees at
Zenith Bank only rather than the usual channel of Union Bank, First
Bank and UBA, all of which had branches in Awka whereas Zenith
Bank was yet to establish a branch in Awka at that time, and again
the information was that the change takes effect immediately. I did
not just start by writing a counter notice or calling a Congress of
students, rather I went straight to the Deputy Bursar who signed the
notice, and when he told me that he acted on instructions from the
Bursar, I went to the Admin Block to see the Bursar, and upon
realizing that it was a directive from the Vice-Chancellor, I ended up
in the VC’s office to demand answers as to why the students would be
made to travel to Onitsha or Enugu to pay school fees at Zenith Bank
instead of the banks in Awka. I even suggested that the University
should provide a temporary office space for Zenith bank to come and
collect the fees from students in the school and take to their branch
at the close of work, but it was turned down. At this point, I was left
with no option than to issue a notice to the students to maintain
status quo on channels of school fees payment, and of course the
students obeyed and paid school fees through Union bank, First Bank
and UBA, all in Awka.

Now it should be understood that in spite of the sensitive and urgent
nature of the issue, I had to follow the rules, hence my visit to the
Deputy Bursar and the Bursar translates to Consultation. And I went
further to consolidate with my visit to the VC’s office and even my
suggestion of an alternative approach to use the Zenith Bank as the
University had recommended, that is to say, that the University
should provide a temporary office space for Zenith Bank to come and
collect the fees directly from the students. However, when it became
clear to me that nothing good can come out of the process, I went
ahead to the third ‘C’ – which is confrontation, by issuing a notice to
students to maintain status quo, thereby disobeying the directives of
the University authority. It is important to state here, that the
University management did not take that decision to use Zenith Bank
just to punish the students because they had expectations of projects
and developments the Bank will attract to the University, as the VC
had explained to me but for us, the policy was anti-students. In fact, it
was because of the VC’s explanation that I made the suggestion for
the University to provide a temporary office space for the bank to
come and collect the fees directly from students rather than allowing
my students to travel to Onitsha or Enugu at the risk of road
accidents and robbery incidents.

Another example is the issue of instituting a democratic Student
Union Government in the Federal Polytechnic, Oko during my time as
Pioneer Chairman of the Joint Campus Committee of NANS, Anambra
State in 2001. That struggle was commenced with a familiarization
visit to the Polytechnic in that year, 2001, but did not end that year.
During our visit to the Rector, Prof. Uba Nwuba, we demanded for the
Polytechnic to conduct an election for a democratic student union
leadership, and which the Rector assured us that the process will be
worked out and commenced in due course, shortly thereafter, I
proceeded to Kano State for my one year of National Service in the
NYSC, and as such I handed over to Comrade Eze Golden as JCC
Chairman. However, after my youth service, I returned to Awka for
another degree in Law faculty, and it was that time I started running
for NANS President, hence the need to reactivate the struggle for the
institution of a democratic student union leadership in Oko
Polythecnic. So, in consultation with Comrade Tony Uche, Comrade
Toochukwu Ohazurike and Comrade Geof – the Deputy Coordinator
of NANS Zone B at that time, we visited the institution with the same
demand of conducting election for a democratic student union
leadership, this time there was breakdown of discussion which led to

the Polytechnic management using the instrumentalities of the Police
Authority to arrest and detain visiting NANS Comrades together with
Comrade Chinedu Ekwealor (Ejelete), a student of Okopoly. We were
detained at the Oko police station and transferred the next day to
Ajali police station, but eventually released after two days, with an
understanding that we should allow the Polytechnic to write exams
and then conduct SUG elections thereafter.
After the 2003 NANS Convention, where I contested for NANS
President alongside Tony Nwoye of UNEC, Tony Uche of UNIZIK and
others, which election produced Tony Nwoye as NANS President, but
a factional NANS leadership emerged upon a Rainbow Coalition with
the Tony Uche group which adopted me as factional NANS President,
we commenced activities and struggles. It was at that time, precisely
in 2004 that I made a final approach to the Polytechnic that led to the
conduct of the SUG election in 2004 that produced Comrade Obi
Ezeonwuka as President of Okopoly Student Union Government. This
is the result of a struggle I commenced in 2001 as Pioneer JCC

From the above, it can be seen clearly that we adhered to the rules of
engagement by observing the principles of the 3Cs of the struggle. My
first visit and interaction with the Polytechnic management in 2001
where I raised the issue of SUG election was the Consultation stage
which was consolidated with the visit led by the NANS Zone B Deputy
Coordinator and others that led to our arrest and detention, and
ultimately upon further consolidation with my visit as NANS
President, we actualized the purpose of the struggle – election of a
democratic student union leadership.
In conclusion, it is important for the upcoming student leaders to
realize the need to have their eyes on the ball, and learn that even
while observing the 3Cs of the struggle, the last “C” must not be
activated for you to have a successful struggle, in fact the second ‘C’
can be activated and reactivated as many times as possible as long as
there still exist communication channel between the student
leadership and the authorities. The last ‘C’ is the final weapon to get
the authorities to discussion table, the actual use of which is always
less effective than the threat to deploy it. Happy new year in advance!

Comrade Igwe Patrick Afubera writes from Abuja.

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