Culture is easily contractible; it takes one person to perform an act, and then the act spreads like a fire, catching all members of a clan, till it becomes the clan’s tradition. In no time, the people define this act as “our act”, “how we do things” or “the norms”. However, the institutionalisation of norms is deceptive; as in many cases, the will and deeds of a few is forced on many, thereby defining the people. The concept of the forming of norms and traditions has manifested on the University of Ibadan campus – this time around, among several politicians on the University of Ibadan campus.
With the commencement of electoral activities came electioneering paparazzi – incessant BCs, long and unending declarations of intent, pamphlets bearing twistedly falsified achievements, and a host of near-tiring flyers. Aspirants are accosting you on the streets of the University, shaking your hands, handing you “business cards”, smiling to you – trying to befriend you, so you would buy into their supposed vision, and in the end, vote for them. And so the institutionalisation of norms surfaces.
What strikes the curious mind is that: why do these things take the same pattern, year-in-year out? Why do we see the same set of tactics and strategies among aspirants? To what can we attribute this? The ineptitude of aspirants, a dying political consciousness and awareness, the political atmosphere in the nation, or the intentional will to act as one wishes, knowing that things would eventually turn out as one wants?
A historiographical consideration of electioneering activities among University of Ibadan students will prove the ailing nature of student unionism in the University of Ibadan. Is it aeons ago already, when Ojo Aderemi walked from hall to hall in his flip-flops, disclosing the message of intelligentsia to students and hall residents. It is millennials ago, when University of Ibadan students actively discussed political aspirants, political positions, possible winners, and what aspirants had to offer or could offer the student populace. The human mind is fickle, so fickle that the student populace has forgotten the days of a tensed political atmosphere, of jingles, and campaigns, and reinforced campaigns, and hall rallies. We are tired – like an arthritic old woman who had just climbed the stairs of a three-storey building. All we want is to graduate – without ASUU strike, and without Unionism-induced school closure.
Everyone just wants to graduate and face the real life; get a “good job”, buy a Benz, and get a life, outside “the joke” we play on campus. If only it were a joke. It is often said that the university is a breeding ground, and the best of us are made on this ground, even while many think that we are up and about life on campus as jokers.
This makes the present reality saddening. What shall become of unionism on the Universtiy of Ibadan campus? What shall become of student welfarism? Of speaking up, and defending people’s rights? What shall become of the unified front that helps students plead and advocate their cause? Shall it give in to fear, and cowardice, and selfish political interests?
These may be questions that would be analysed and answered another day. However, let the searchlight situate a new crop of aspirants – vandalist aspirants. Sadly, virtually all the aspirants to offices for the coming election are guilty. Curious-minded UIte, do you ask who a vandalist aspirant is? A vandalist aspirant is a political aspirant who takes to vandalising public property as a means of propagating their political aspiration. It is paradoxical that people aspiring to hold public positions would push their aspirations by vandalising public property. There are wailing walls, and defaced tanks – vestiges of ill-managed and haphazard political campaigns.
There is no doubt that this crop of aspirants are laid-back – perhaps products of the baby-boy-life generation. Their laid-back disposition towards campaign passes a message to the electorate: if they are this laid-back towards their campaign – a strong determinant of whether or not they would be occupants of the Kunle Adepeju Building – how then shall they be when they have won the election and are beset by tasks and responsibilities?
It is high time political aspirants desisted from the barbaric act of defacing walls, tanks and other public property as a means of projecting their campaigns. How sensible is it to paste 50 black-and-white flyers – all bearing the same information – on tanks in a hall of residence, just to announce your intention to occupy a political position? Do you not know of the maintenance culture? What could have pushed you to that?
The image which serves as the feature of this editorial is that of the infamous Walling Walls of Independence Hall – a wall that has suffered from years of political posters.
It is difficult to reconcile how aspirants would be so selfish as to deface walls and other public property in a bid to project their campaigns. What does that say of you and your possible actions in the office? We have sought reasons – as an attempt to find a defence line for you, and in a bid to understand the rationale behind such an act.
We did find one reason: laziness. Your student leaders-to-be are lazy. It is plain simple. How did we arrive at this conclusion? It is only a lazy aspirant that jettisons tried and trusted means of campaigning and public relations, and opts for what comes easy and sweatless, not considering that it could be unethical. Aspirants have resulted to selfish means of campaign that would neither stress them nor cost them too much money, even though these are to the detriment and discomfort of the electorate. So, you get spammed with BCs, and unending group messages. You are harassed time and time again with generic messages asking you to share a flyer on your status by 9 p.m. You go to your toilet or cafeteria, and all you see are walls re-plastered with paper.
On the other hand, these aspirants could have and should have opted for better means of campaigning. Make banners, take permissions from Public Relations Officers in halls of residence or faculties to place your banners in the halls or at faculties. Rent cars or a truck; rent speakers, make a jingle, gather your friends and get the electorate aware through rallies. Visit radio stations; visit people from room-to-room, lecture hall to lecture hall – anything but the nauseating and lazy campaign strategy of defacing walls with papers and stickers!
It is high time hall and faculty administrations rose to the task of taxing erring aspirants. Fine them, report them to the Student Affairs Unit; get to action and make these aspirants realise what is at stake if they stick to selfish and environmentally dangerous means of campaign. Your inaction in your capacity as a leader at your hall of residence or faculty – perhaps spurred by thoughts such as “he is our guy” – will one day jeopardise the vibrancy and strength of unionism on campus. So, act!
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