The previous part of this series was an analysis that exposed the many inconsistencies of the offices of the Public Relations Officer and especially, the Financial Secretary. This part is an objective gauge of how efficient the secretarial mechanism of the Union – the General Secretary and his Assistant – has been. Finally, just like before, the scale is not partial; the basis for analysis would be benchmarks that the affected persons have set at the manifesto.
THE OFFICE OF THE GENERAL SECRETARY AND THE THREE POINT PLAN FOR THE UNION
Secretarial duties are associated with accurate documentation, information flow and access. This office is like the memory of the union. It is primarily in charge of creating a repository of the decisions of student executives, and ensuring the average student has access to them. Finally, the office is charged with safeguarding this repository, so that posterity can draw wisdom from it. Fully aware of these duties and obligations, Mr. Fijabi Israel of the Faculty of Law made his way to the office through the student franchise. For one, an in-depth analysis of his plans did not reveal much difference from his baseline constitutional duties. Regardless of that, let us see if he actually did deliver on the baseline promises.
- At the time of his manifesto, Mr. Fijabi Israel made the promise of integration and uniformity. According to him, the creation of a unified secretariat is crucial to the peace and progress of a Union as large as that of our institution. He promised a system that encourages inclusivity and synchronised functionality. Going on, he proposed to create a group page where all the secretaries can tender their proactive ideas and exchange information on how to build credible databases.
This plan did make sense. However, from interactions between a correspondent of Indy Press Organization and the General Secretaries of some faculties, some claim not to be aware of such platforms. For instance, faculties like Science and Basic Medical Sciences. According to these individuals, there are currently no such group pages or forums for General Secretaries. On the flip side, the General Secretary of the Faculty of Law affirmed the existence of such a platform. However, according to him, nothing has been done about it since creation.
This begs this question, “what happened to inclusivity and unification?” Why are there omissions of some faculties? Sure, there may be arguments of finances and time for some other executive projects; however, this does not require any of that. Did the General Secretary develop other new plans or it’s just a sheer negligence of promises?
- Moving on, Mr. Fijabi Israel also promised a public dissemination of monthly report of the Union’s activities. As of the time of writing this story, there are no public indicators of a monthly dissemination of the Students’ Union’s activities and meetings. The Public Relations Officer sure discloses some resolutions made by the executive body on important matters. However, it is never monthly; the students are only privy to this sort of information when the matter is of overwhelming public interest.
- Finally, the Office of the General Secretary promised to create an e-secretariat. Not only did he say that, he promised to introduce this innovation to every hall. Finally, this e-secretariat is supposed to be accessible to subsequent administrations. In truth, the Students’ Union has a repository for all their files in cloud storage and it is accessible on request. While speaking with Oluwakayode Mustapha, the Assistant General Secretary, he affirmed the existence of the e-secretariat. According to him, the Students’ Union body definitely still has hard copies. However, these soft copies are kept to prevent damage or loss.
When contacted about the about the unified secretariat, Mr. Fijabi Israel attributed the non-existence to the disruption in academic calendar. Asides from that, he also attributed the inability to continue to the sort of governance the Students’ Union operates. According to him, he has to hold regular meetings with the General Secretaries if he wants to sustain that structure. He mentioned that the union only prioritises matters of overwhelming importance, and that the finances would not allow for such meetings. Furthermore, he said that resumption after pandemic placed all the students in a busy circumstance and that there was no point going on with the plan.
On the issue of the monthly dissemination of information, he asserted that the duty belongs to the Public Relations Officer, and that it is not within his constitutionally allowed jurisdiction to put that out. He however affirmed that the meeting files are available to the students of the Union, on request.
OLUWAKAYODE MUSTAPHA AND HIS FOUR-POINT PLAN FOR THE UNION
Oluwakayode Mustapha contested for the Office of the Assistant General Secretary of the Union. Due to the nature of his office, it is natural to see some promises that bear similitude to that of the General Secretary. In the case of Oluwakay (as he is popularly called), aside from his duties as the Assistant Secretary, his plans were centered on skill acquisition and opportunity creation. In his manifesto, he promised that:
- There would be a career development seminar during the welcome week where students will learn about the corporate world, career advancements and the job market. He further stressed that the student body would be made to go through employability training.
- There would be programs such as welcome dinners for students to develop social capital and increase their chances of success through networking.
- The students would be exposed to professional IT trainings on important software like Microsoft word, excel and PowerPoint. These trainings are to help them develop skills like data analysis, graphics design and web development.
Since these promises seem to be centered on skill acquisition and development, one would expect that massive efforts are invested into execution. However, in the surface, there were no enough activities that prompted execution. Also, despite the absence of major skill acquisition programmes, no progress reports or explanations were made to the students as regards any of these.
While speaking with Oluwakay on these promises, he cited the Covid-19-induced disruptions as the reason why the plans were not able to see the light of the day. According to him, committees were created for skill acquisition seminars and events. He further mentioned that these committees worked hard towards execution but had to succumb due to the long breaks in the academic calendar. He further cited the career talks during Freshers’ Orientation as attempts to recreate an execution of these grand ideas in a less flashy manner. While these reasons stand valid, the Office of the Assistant General Secretary could have shown more dedication by mapping out a virtual means to achieving this. Why did the deliberations not continue when the school resumed? Was there anything that stopped proper virtual skill acquisition programs?
There is the place for planning, there is the place for execution, and there is also the place for circumstantial interference. It is of a truth that the Covid-19 pandemic happened and it threw a lot of plans into disarray. However, dedication to service demands that these ends are pursued with the available means (in this case, technology). Aside from the plans that later became impractical due to jurisdictional restrictions, the others could have been properly executed with little or no glitches. In the event of impossibility, the student body at least deserved accountability; we deserve to be in the know. Are those not the same promises that served as the basis for election? On that note, let the incumbent take actions and let the incoming learn lessons. The Fourth Estate never forgets. Aluta Continua!