WHERE ARE WE GOING?
“If you’re not confused, you’re not paying attention.” ― Tom Peters, Thriving on Chaos
Good day, my Lords. Let me start by felicitating with His Royal Highness, Amirul Mumineen Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar IV, the Sultan of Sokoto, on his approval as the Chancellor of the University of Ibadan. It feels good to finally have a new one after the death of the former Chancellor, Late Alhaji Dr. Ado Bayero. May his soul rest in peace.
My Lords, I am aware that the investiture for our new Chancellor is yet to be performed. Nevertheless, I am afraid we may need his spiritual intervention very soon with the way the Union politics is bumping its rickety Marco Polo down the road of obliteration. However, whether we will have to put a call through to him or not will largely depend on the outcome of this week’s case. The case before us this week is about the ongoing Students’ Union electioneering process, the comedies we have seen so far, the ironies and the hopeless tragedies. The situations that have thrown political pundits into a pool of confusion have also motivated my stand this week to argue before you, my Lords. The way things are going, it is most unlikely that we will not get it wrong again. The body language of all the players depict everything except orderliness, intelligence, strategic political plan and maturity, in fact, we are in a deep shit of a political nightmare when an Abefele starts chanting “Ah Speaker”.
How do you diagnose a candidate that walks every morning from Hall 1 down to Awo Hall only for him to pay for other students’ cab fares? How do you diagnose the so called elders when they led Zikites to wash tanks in Idia and Awo (They forgot the Queens though), one may wonder if there were no dirty tanks in the whole of Baluba Kingdom and ask if they know anything at all about the “Charity” proverb. Our student-politicians have forgotten that one needs the preceding “Smart” to be a “Smart Ass” or else one ends up being an “Ass”.
May I also call the attention of this honourable court to the way some of the halls handle the reception of political campaigns from their opponents, it is highly offensive and grossly immature! Mellanby Hall started the game by refusing Zikites entrance into the Premier Hall when they came to campaign on the flimsy excuse that the time was not appropriate. This was before the Hall did a similar thing to the Awo Call candidate for Vice President, CDO. The Queens of Idia Hall played it further by refusing Mellanbites entrance into their hall on the reason that they were having a congress and the time was also not appropriate. The Baluba Lions later revenged themselves by chasing Mellanbites out of their hall and members of both halls patiently disgraced one another as they walk through the Katanga Republic. You will agree with me my Lords that this is an unwelcome development in our polity.
It may be true that a good number of UI students are thoughtless and they vote based on the beauty of the aspirants but it becomes a different ball game when a male aspirant go to the extent of being a transvestite and applying heavy make up to impress the electorate. At that point, it becomes pertinent to ask who the greater fool is, the aspirant trying to impress or the electorates that wants to be impressed? In the same vein, the Students’ Representative Council and the Electoral Committee are at loggerheads over the games of superiority and ego. Do we still need to talk about the alarming arrogance of some of the aspirants? My Lords, it’s just few days to the election and we are yet to see the posters of some aspirants. We don’t know if it is a case of superciliousness or just harmless cluelessness.
My Lords, the above are just few of the cases. It is clear that we are not getting something right. We don’t need a Dibia to tell us that we are confused as a Union. If we should continue with the way things are going, I am afraid it will be tantamount to travelling to an unknown destination without a map. I am afraid we are already lost in our own political maze. This year’s election is witnessing the highest number of aspirants in recent times (23 candidates in all, enough to build two football teams and a referee) and yet the highest degree of political apathy, don’t you think something is missing?
On this note, I’ll like to plead this court to grant me permission to call our new Chancellor that we need him to send down some great sheiks with big turbans from the North. Perhaps after some aggressive Qur’anic chants and prayers, we may yet find our lost course again, before it’s too late.
I rest my case.
NO, THE PATH IS CLEAR
I have not drunk water from a cup lately; put the blame on the technology that makes water available in “sachets” and bottles. Nevertheless, I still know the answer to the question- “is the glass half-full or half-empty?”
“People suffering from depression often develop a half-empty perspective toward life. They focus on what they do not have, sure that things will turn out badly. They concentrate on the flaws in themselves and others, feeling robbed by life and resentful for what is missing in their lives. This attitude/perspective tends to be a turn-off to others, and damages their relationships. It actually keeps them from risking and taking chances to make healthy changes in their lives.” This excerpt, from “Who is really driving your bus” By James O. Henman, a psychologist, also captures my thoughts.
My lords, the case for this week holds certain perspectives for the advancement or otherwise of the Unibadan students’ union. And, like a boyscout, I remain optimistic; I remain faithful to the school of thought that says there are no mazes anywhere. These are the best of times for UISU.
The build-up to the elections into executive offices of the students’ union poses no puzzles whatsoever. Rather, it brings to fore our collective responsibilities and contributions towards the advancement of the union. I am aware of narratives built on the cold war between some halls of residence. This too is a blessing as it reveals to us some of the obstacles in our quest for a more union- our incorrect understanding of what a “union” is, and the fact that most of us adopt a hall based approach to the selection of leaders, rather than the strength of their ideologies and plans. And I really think we should rejoice for this- once the problem is known, one can focus on finding solutions. Recent responses to some of the issues are testaments to our progress.
The recent display of wisdom by some of those contesting despite the “step-down” order by the stakeholders in their respective halls is something worth celebrating. We should be glad that at last people are finally seeing beyond a very stupid arrangement that is capable of robbing us of the best brains. This too attests to our insight, progress, and this emerging moment of greater light.
“i. That the Chairman of the electoral committee should be selected among the 25 students drawn across faculties and halls which must be done through constitution review of ARTICLE XVII (II) of our union constitution ; ii. That sorting-out and counting of ballot paper should be done in the respective halls where the election took place. The results announced by each hall of residence should be officially declared by the collation officer of each hall at the Central Collation Office; iii. That the announcement of result at the collation centre should be made Public and the inhibition of electorate from gaining access to the centre should be stopped” Items I to III are excerpts from Olawuni Mustapha’s recommendations on the elections. My lords, do such lofty ideas suggest confusion?
My lords, the pessimists are PR persons for what Award winning Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Adichie, calls the danger of a single story. Perhaps they know the stories that make this cup half-full, but have chosen to hold on to their beliefs, rejecting the gospel that brings intellectual salvation. What else can one wish them than membership of INSIGHTT organisation or any other student group in UI that advocates for a change from an unsophisticated thought process?
My lords, the path is clear! Rather than get distracted by issues that are actually blessings in disguise, we must remain committed to our quest for a better union and a better university of Ibadan.
I rest my case
CONCLUSION: This column is about you, it presents the two sides of a case courtesy of two writers from different schools of thought. “audi alteram partem” means hear the other side before passing your judgment. Take the gavel, make your decision and slam because you are the judge in this courtroom.
UISU ELECTION: A MAZE OF EVENTS?
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