In recent times, we have been hearing of different kinds of conflicts resulting in violent crisis because of poor management of differences and challenges. in this book, our focus is on students’ crisis caused by students’ overt objections to societal ills, rules and regulations in the university and government policies and programmes. This definition throws up three parties who are directly involved in the problem: the university authorities, the students and government, in any case, they form the principal actors, whose selective perception of one another on several occasions precipitate crisis both in the educational sub- sector and in the nation at large.
Students have been accused of being idealist rather than realistic in their demands; just as university authorities blame government for expecting too much from them. Meanwhile, the students accuse both government and school authorities of insensitivity and high handedness. They also blame government for corruption and recklessness, singing and dancing to the tune of hedonism while the greater population of Nigerians wallows in poverty.
Although these three parties stand out in the problem of students crisis, in most cases school authorities tend to take sides with government. The conflict then becomes that of two parties the students and the authorities. Be that as it may, it would be expedient for the parties to realize that they are under obligation to conduct their affair peacefully in the society in which they are a part.
Conflict and protest are inherent in human interactions. They are not restricted to students alone. In the Holy Bible it was recorded that God objected to the pride of Lucifer and chased him out of His (God’s) presence. History is also replete with protests of governments against other governments, individuals and organizations. In 1976, Nigeria refused to take part in the Olympic Games held at Montreal, Canada in protest against the participation of New Zealand which maintained sporting links with then apartheid South Africa.
In January1993, parents and guardians in Lagos took to the streets to protest teachers’ prolonged strike. They sang along the major roads and implored the Federal Government to urgently wade into the work stoppage before the devil found jobs for idle hands Also in 1993, investors in collapsed “wonder banks” who wanted a refund of their deposits rioted in Benin during Easter. Their riot marred the Easter celebrations
Pent-up anger over unpaid March 1994 salaries at the Ajaokuta steel complex in Kogi State gave way to violence on Friday, April 15, 1994 when workers there rampaged, destroying vehicles belonging to the company’s contractors and others Following the announcement of immediate deregulation of the price of petroleum products, especially petrol by President Goodluck Jonathan in January 1, 2012, there were spontaneous protests across Nigeria by civil society groups, joined by Nigeria Labour Congress and others including Occupy Nigeria which was loudest in Lagos.
Although the action was borne out of the need to check what the president felt was unacceptable huge subsidy payments to importers of refined petroleum product, he had to respond to the demands of Nigerians by shelving full deregulation but the price was moved to 97 Naira after some consultations with labour and other stakeholders.
Sometimes, even the government encourages the citizens to express their objections to developments that they consider unacceptable in the polity. For instance, in 1988, Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Prince Tony Momoh, suggested to Nigerians to boycott commercial vehicles which increased transport fares. To him, that appeared more mature than engaging in violent protests against increase in petrol product prices by the military regime of that time.
It is important that we add that protests among students is not limited to Nigeria, students in other countries of the world do the same whenever the need arises. In her report on the Globe, an online medium on Tuesday, May 1,2012, Margaret Wente, reported how hundreds of thousands of Quebec students took to the streets opposing 75 percent tuition fee hike (in the next five years).The report recalled how on Saturday, 29 April, 2012, the students demonstrated in Montreal for the fifth night in a row. “Protesters marched through Montreal’s town, winding up and down the city’s streets for hours and jamming up traffic. The social unrest also extended to the province with student leaders saying they expect their members to reject an offer from the government. They defied the police, damaged properties and some arrests were made”, the report further noted, even as it stated that students in Quebec province are paying the cheapest fees in Canada and in all of North America.
All these historical antecedents point to the fact that protests are accompanied by action. The action may be peaceful or violent.
Naturally, violent protest is dangerous because it constitutes a threat to life and property. Besides, unpatriotic elements exploit the situation to steal, kill and destroy. Except in some few occasions like when force was applied to drive Iraq out of Kuwait in 1990, by the Allied forces”, violent protest is just as unprofitable as violence itself.
Be that as it may, preventive measures abound to manage peaceful protests as well as check violent ones. While it is possible to avoid violent demonstrations through the cooperation of all the parties involved, the same may not be said all the time of peaceful protests because of individual preferences and limited resources. With this understanding therefore, most governments allow peaceful protests hut caution against words and conducts that threaten public peace a challenge for excellence in management.
The term “Management” is commonly used and understood in various ways by different people. To the layman on the street, management simply means “to economize”. That is, trying to spread money available across identified needs and meeting some of them at different levels. The emphasis is not on getting the best result. Hence, it is common to hear people say things like “I will manage”, “we are managing”.
However, it will be important to clarify that the boundaries of management goes beyond ensuring effective use of resources. Management also seeks to achieve predetermined objectives at an acceptable cost. In the context of this writing, one can define management as an integrated activity (involving decisions and actions) aimed at harnessing and making maximum use of resources, and identifying opportunities to achieve worthwhile objectives.
As in other sectors of the society, the Governing Councils and other decision makers in the institutions of higher learning and government are responsible for the creation and maintenance of conducive environment for learning. They are also expected to harness the needed resources to ensure that the graduates of our tertiary institutions are comparable, acceptable and  capable of defending their diplomas and degrees anywhere in the world.
Writing on Making sense in Management Theory, Harold Koontz foremost Management Scholar defined managing in the following manner:
“Managing is the art of getting things done and with people in formally organized groups. It is the art of creating an environment in which people can perform as individuals and yet cooperate towards the attainment of group goals. It is the art of removing blocks to such performance, a way of optimizing efficiency in realizing goals”
For managers, administrators and policy makers to succeed ii creating the right conditions for achieving desired objectives, they must possess:
“Specific managerial skills which pertain to management, rather than to any other discipline. One of these is communication within organizations. Another is the making of decisions under condition of uncertainty And there is also a specific entrepreneurial skill: strategic planning”
It is not enough for one to claim to know the skills and techniques management probably on the basis of past experience. This is large due to its obvious inadequacies long identified by Professors
Thierauf, Greeding and Klekamp:
“Changed conditions may mean that the past is not good indicator of the future as what is learned from experience is generally circumscribed by the limits of experience”
We cannot over-emphasize the importance j of the principles of management to administrators and policy makers.
Writing on The changing nature of management process, Paul Okereke noted interalia
“Management cannot be learned entirely from books or within the classroom, experience counts… Nevertheless, formal training in management is important for it provides the benefits of accumulated knowledge and interpreted experience, and the application of research findings…
For a purposeful and proper articulation of policies capable of achieving worthwhile short-term goals and long-term objectives, the dynamics of management must be understood. The kind of management advocated is one that will minimize conflicts and check violent protests. It is proactive; involving purposeful, conscious and positive handling of students’ grievances in such a manner that situations don’t degenerate into violence.
Violence shares certain things in common with natural fire: it is destructive and costly whenever it occurs. The challenge of fighting fire of violent student’s crisis before it starts is one we have to go for. The loss of lives and property that results consequent to confrontation between the students and law enforcement agents casts a shadow of doubt on the efficacy of the fire-fighting approach in conflict management.
The basic landmarks which are of course the necessary conditions for the success of this kind of management are three:
1) The authorities should be purposeful in the handing of students problems;
2) They should be conscious of the dangers of the fire-fighting approach; and
3) There is the need for them to have a positive attitude towards the students.
A basic precondition for success is for the authorities to be persuaded that it is better to prevent fire than allowing it to start and then trying to light it. This conviction should be the impetus for those concerned to deliberately evolve credible ways and means of pre-empting dangerous crisis situations.
There is also the need for the authorities to consciously review their traditional fire fighting strategies of setting up panels of inquiry only after demonstrations. Also to be re-examined is the performance of armed policemen sent to schools and other trouble spots to enforce law and order. The attendant great losses which characterize the reactive approach to students crisis management generally underscore the need to reconsider its effectiveness.
We will also emphasize the need for the authorities to fight the problems that cause unrest among students instead of “fighting” the students. A student is not different from any other law-abiding citizen who is well-behaved. He only reacts to unfavourable conditions in order to draw attention of all to it. This attitude towards abnormal phenomena or pains is human.
Violent students protest is a double-edged sword. When it occurs, it hurts both sides (students and the society on one hand, and the government and schools on the other). What we require is peace and not war. There is no war without loss: that is, loss to both the victor and the vanquished, even though, the weaker party tends to lose