YES, IT IS
“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute speech with the average voter” – Winston Churchill
My Lords, I am indeed a breathing epitome of joy for the opportunity to be here on this blessed day. The curtains of darkness with which the night had clouded me have been pierced by blades of sunlight and no one is happier to see a newer day than I am. I do not speak these words to imitate the fashion of church testimonies, but it would be incredibly ungrateful of me to not express my intense gratitude to the heavens. Prequel to this day was the Presidential Debate event which was supposed to showcase the true nature of the candidates but turned out to be a day of syntactic genocides and extreme terrorist attacks on grammar. “Are you a Bello?” and “what question does she asking?” became metaphorical gunshots that chased me out of the venue. Anyway, one has to thank the stars even more, because if not for them I would not have survived to confute my adversary’s gravely misguided argument that endorsement of candidates is not within the vast demesne of rightness.
Principal among the reasons for my confident stance is the fact that endorsement of candidates is done by hall and faculty leaders, whose heads have been dipped in the miraculous waters of experience within the realm of politics. They are familiar with the candidates and know what they really stand for, because, in the end, that is all that matters. They are the voices of the entire populace. The average student knows close to nothing about these candidates and only votes through certain emotions that end up being frivolous and even dangerous. He only looks at the poster or listens to the jingles or at best, gets swayed by mere rhetoric. But the leaders decide what is best for their various constituencies and, upon that consideration, choose who to endorse. As we all know, a certain aspirant for one of the major posts in this Students’ Union elections failed to get endorsement from their hall and eventually stepped down. The hall leaders collectively made the informed choice. Since the entirety of the student-body cannot come together to resolve who is worth endorsing as in Ancient Greece, it becomes paramount for the experienced leaders of the hall to rise to the occasion.
Moreover, it helps to sieve out unwanted elements. Easily, greenhorns rise from the shadows of anonymity and decide to contest, confounding the entire process of election. It makes it so much harder to decide who to vote for. With no fore-knowledge of the ins-and-outs of the governing process, no-do-goods pour out in liquid measure and plaster their doctored faces all over campus with high-level posts written next to their unknown names. Regular students cannot really tell the difference, so when endorsement comes in, the wheat is separated from the chaff and the coast is much clearer. Is it not easier to have two strong candidates than to have eight candidates for one post? When you hear that the Student Representative Council Speaker has recommended an aspirant, you certainly know there is something about him or her that makes the person special. You cannot expect the hall or faculty to approve a candidate that will be detrimental to their cause.
The opposing counsel might argue that it is not all democratic to allow a handful of people to decide for the entirety of halls and faculties. Well, yes. I’d agree with him a hundred and one percent. It is definitely against the ethos of democracy. But is that not the point? Democracy has its flaws and this is surely a perfect example of the reason. The opinion of the whole is so overrated that we delude ourselves into thinking students that know nothing about the candidates can choose the best for themselves. The quote that preluded the scribbling of these words is a true word of wisdom from the old sage of England. As Padraig Deignan opines, “Democracy is the counting of heads, not what’s in them.” I am not going to play on your emotions and perform the infamous whining. No! The truth remains: the majority does not have enough knowledge resources about the candidates to collectively choose who to approve of. The ultimate say still resides with the entire student-populace but it is much wiser to allow the endorsers, so to speak, to voice their well-educated opinions.
I choose to not pretend we have all day. I hereby conclude that it is a necessary necessity which is necessitated by the need to make sure we choose well, despite my tautologous tautology, that the principle of endorsement be allowed to stay. God bless you.
NO, ONLY A WAY INTO TROUBLE
The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them ~ Karl Marx
Milords, the moot-point of the moment is one that can be categorically categorised as a res judicata (i.e. an issue already decided upon) for how can we live with it for so long without entertaining thoughts as to its validity? The student body has been enduring a not-too-blissful matrimony with it for a pretty long time. We have romanced its unsavoury contours for donkey’s years. And this is why I wrote thus as far back as May 4 2015; ‘we can be Mellanbists or Zikists all we want. But when the fate of the union is at stake; our individual halls must not be factored in decision-making and action-taking. In a nutshell, we must first be unionists before we are hall-lodgers – for one is by choice while the other is perforce.’
Last Tuesday, I decided to accompany a friend to a lecture of Dr Oladoyin Odebowale (popularly known as High Priest) about whom I had heard much about enough to pique my attention. During the class, one thing he said which I shall ever hold tightly to is his opinion of ethnicity. He said the only use tribal identities ought to serve is the distribution of economic resources and the conduct of festivals. This is similar to the remark of George Bernard Shaw who said: patriotism is a pernicious, psychopathic form of idiocy. And I concur. When a person treats his homeland like paradise (where no blemish exists) and his countrymen like Napoleon (who is always right), we can confidently say his intellectual budget has been ‘mutilated’ and ‘Sarakified’.
Faculties and halls of residence have no right whatsoever to endorse candidates. They have no right to tell the electorate who to vote for. And most particularly, they have no right to induce an aspirant to ‘step down’ because the stakeholders so-said. Milords, is it not ironical that the same students who are first to complain about the stagnancy of Nigeria’s polity are foremost in polishing and formalising crimes committed by that polity? The same students who occupy their Facebook walls and Twitter handles against the concepts of tribal chauvinism, federal character and zoning are the ones who suddenly lose their voice at the sight of similar tragedies under their nose. Are we truly the future of the nation or a mere annex of the present?
Union leadership is not akin to the throne of Olubadan which rotates generously among autonomous units like the Dasuki booty. It is a cap for competent heads and a shoe for deserving legs, regardless of which place the head rests at night and in whose belly the legs kicked at the outset. It is for the competent and not the prominent. And so I am dumbstruck to hear some quarters suggest that a person should be given mandate to rule simply because Bello or Tedder hall hasn’t served for a long time. Let us at least allow them a bite at the union cake too, they wail. What nonsense, milords! I ask – are the aspirants representing the interest of the hall or that of all? And is it the number of our comrades in the leadership that matters or the level of leadership in our comrades?
It may be argued that the process of endorsement is no different from that of the Electoral College under a democracy. But nothing can be as undemocratic as having a gang of unpopular, unelected “elders” draw the roadmap for hundreds of mentally fine ladies or gentlemen. It is an affront on all our IQs milords. Even if we are to accept anything close to an endorsement, it should be done not in the dark hours of the night, but in the glare of the day with trusted hands on deck. All inhabitants of a hall, or worst case scenario, all the floor representatives should be the ones to decide. It may even take the shape of press nights wherein non-partisan individuals declare superiority in accordance with the dictates of their conscience.
To wrap things up, it has been said milords that the mind is like a parachute. It functions only when it is open. So let us be open-minded, for only with that can we have not just a functioning intellect but a functioning union. A system which rewards a person with endorsement just because he was not endorsed the previous year will only engender a union of nonentities and mediocrities. Let us, without restriction, grant everyone the right to vote and be voted for; and let variety reign. The endorsement by a few is nothing but the enthronement of trouble. We must end it before it ends us.
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.
ENDORSEMENT OF ASPIRANTS BY HALLS AND FACULTIES: THE WAY TO GO?
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