By: Akinmoyeje Timileyin Precious
“Politics in a democracy is transactional: Politicians seek votes by promising to do things for voters, who seek promises in exchange for their votes. It is left for each side to fulfill their end of the bargain.”
At the last Students’ Union election, all hands were on deck to ensure the best individuals emerge as leaders. Upon the re-introduction of student unionism on the University campus, the election regulatory body introduced certain criteria for qualification. These requirements significantly streamlined the number of candidates that could pick up forms for respective executive portfolios. On the same note, the student body further filtered through the available individuals by voting at the polls. We elected a body of executives through which we believe that the course of unionism would be advanced.
As expected of any individual vying for any position in the executive body, the elected individuals promised the student body certain benchmark achievements within their constitutional jurisdiction. By implication, these promises became the metric through which we could measure the overall success or failure of respective offices. Considering the percentage of fulfilled promises, can the students confidently assert that they have made the right choices? A quick juxtaposition of the state of things as at the time of the election and now would be instrumental in answering this question.
Comrade Edet And The Pool Of Unfulfilled Promises
Mr. Edet Collins showed considerable camaraderie at the manifesto night. He also made some pretty interesting financial promises. However, considering the current situation, the Office of the Treasurer has shown the biggest apathy towards the fulfillment of campaign promises. What happened to all of these? Did anything by chance make him lose interest in the spirit of comradeship? Perhaps, a brief examination of some of these promises would drive home the point.
- Comrade Edet promised the student body to instigate programmes that would attract financial institutions such as banks to the university. The purpose of these programmes, according to him, would be to enlighten the student body on financial prudence and create practical student saving schemes through partnership. However, dating back to the time of his inauguration, the only occasions where we see these banks (and other financial institutions) are when they need to enlarge their customer base. Is there any reason why this plan has not been executed?
- In continuation, Comrade Edet promised to help limit the way the students were exploited by house owners and caretakers outside the campus. In retrospect, this promise looked like a prophecy into the future. According to him, “it is a fact that agents act as middlemen between house owners and student tenants and inflate outrageously the original value on rent”. He promised that the union in liaison with the house owners would serve as middlemen and direct agents. Quite contrary to this, an analysis of the situation of house rent during the first weeks of resumption (and now) did not show any sign of students’ union involvement. In many instances, students were charged amounts as high as the actual house rents by agents for houses in student areas. Did the treasurer and the union grow cold in the feet when the push came to shove? What happened to the initial concern for student finances?
- Furthermore, Comrade Edet promised to set aside a two-week period where students could print and photocopy for free with the gadgets purchased by the union. The last thing heard about a photocopy machine was when the house approved funds for its purchase. Naturally, one would expect this kind of initiative to kick into action during exam periods. However, since the inauguration, the students have not benefited from any union-sponsored free printing and photocopying scheme.
- In the same streak, Comrade Edet also promised a ‘Comrades-Get-Together’ to let the past union leaders (and the whole alumni body) in on the affairs of the students. He promised this with the vision of generating revenue and promoting political consciousness. What happened to the get-together? Since the time of his inauguration into the office till now, there has been no record of any meeting between past student leaders and alumni leaders geared at revenue generation or fostering political consciousness.
- Finally, the students were promised transparency through the students’ union website. What happened to this plan? Even in the absence of a website, what happened to virtual transparency reports? Why did Comrade Edet keep quiet at the time of the Union’s financial scandal? What happened to a transparency report for the amount of money disbursed during the first three months of the union’s inauguration? Why did Comrade Edet keep quiet during the accompanying uproar?
For the sake of posterity and the common good, it would go a long way if the treasurer does not only sit down to think about these but take necessary actions at execution or explanation. For someone that promised to build absolute trust, it would really go a long way to make attempts to redeem his image and that of his office.
The PROs Three Point Agenda
Of all the offices present in the executive body of the Union, the Office of the Public Relations Officer stands out as a transparency mechanism. It is like a window into the administrative happenings and the capabilities of the executive body. The office in question is also supposed to be the face of the union. Therefore, it is only normal that the office itself is transparent and accountable to the student! How well has the PRO performed so far?
As expected of the PRO, he has been quite instrumental in the dissemination of information to the student populace. The numerous broadcast messages and press statement releases are a pointer to all of that. Furthermore, the PRO, through the capacity of the Union, delivered on things like the UISU essay competition and the activation of the union’s socials. In deference to all of that, the student body is still entitled to know why there is no visible pointer that the PRO has worked on any of the following;
- The plans to be involved in the cataloging session at the KDL and Odeku Medical Library and disseminate information concerning new arrivals to the students. Has KDL not had any new arrival since the administration assumed power? If that is the case, has the Union made any inquiry about what may have happened?
- What about the website of the Students’ Union? Were there any plans made to bring that idea to fruition? Considering the time frame this administration has stayed in office for, they could have successfully created and launched a functional student union website. What happened to the pool of developers on campus? Could the PRO (and the entire union) not leverage this to get a quality and cost-effective online presence?
One could posit an argument with reference to the strike action, the corona break, and the overall extension of the academic session. True, these situations posed a substantial amount of limitation to the activities of the Union. However, on second thought, it gave these executive members the opportunity to make a mark and execute their projects for the student body without any excuse of time constraints. Should this be the template upon which the subsequent administrations should build? Would it really be in the collective interest of the student if, after many years of waiting, the elected members can’t deliver on some basic promises? Let the concerned take cue and take the necessary action. The student body is watching! Aluta Continua!