Presidential Interview Series: Richard Oladeji

The SU elections are approaching and campaigns have begun. This week, Indy Press correspondent, Abdulrahman Adebayo, spoke with Mr. Richard Oladeji, one of the aspirants for the presidential position. Enjoy!

 Why do you think you are the best man to become the next landlord of the Kunle Adepeju building?

There is a popular saying that experience is the best teacher. I happen to be a two-time member of the Ransome Kuti Hall legislative Council and one-time chairman of Programme Management Committee of Kuti Hall. I have also served as House Secretary of the union so I have gathered experience when it come to unionism and I believe, like I said earlier, that experience is the best teacher.

I have also always made a practical analysis of the Students’ Union and I have always likened it to a vehicle. When it was proscribed in 2017, the vehicle was parked. When it was reinstated in 2019, some people were assigned the key to that vehicle. Merely looking at the vehicle, you might think it’s just to wash it and change the tyre but at the long run you start noticing that it’s not just changing the tyres and washing the vehicle but it requires a lot of time to time repair and when you look you would discover that the engine is having an issue.

There comes a time when the tenure of the driver has elapsed and he needs to come down. From the onset there are some people running the vehicle with him so is it advisable you put someone that they have running the vehicle together or bring in someone that knows nothing about the vehicle. Someone that has been seated right beside the driver and knows the genesis of the issue. Its not like there is no space for innovation because some might say ‘why are you likening our union to an old vehicle then we would change the vehicle and buy a new one.’

There’s a popular saying that  new brooms do clean but old brooms know the corners that are dirty.

What are your plans for the union?

I have more than 25 plans for the union but they can broken down to this acronym — WASBA; I coined the word. W stands Welfare. A stands Academics. S stands for Skills Acquisition. B stands for Bursary for Indigent Students and A stands for Accessibility ie prompt response to students demand.

How feasible are your plans for the union because we have situations where we people make promises they can’t fulfil?

All these plans are the stuffs we have done in the Akeju-led administration which I was a proud member of.

But there are many promises you made while aspiring to be House Secretary which you didn’t fulfill and you took responsibility for this failure in a recent interview. What guarantees that your feasibility study this time around is good enough?

In the interview, I rated myself 8/10 and told them the remaining two was due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This is the factor that contributed to that. And I can say it anywhere that I have done 80 percent out of 100 percent of what I promised UItes.

What are your plans to ensure you are able to meet students’ demands considering the fact that the management is not always ready to bend to studentswill?

We have always had a parent-student relationship with management. And I always tell some people that a good parent always have the best interest of his/her ward. They always have an argument and we always have a superior argument. After the pandemic, the management inflated the accommodation fee to N40, 000.

It was N30, 000…

No. They inflated it to a new 100% of N40, 000.

That’s news…

Yes. That’s a new development. They had an argument that things are costly (and) the federal government is not sponsoring the Hall again. Then we had a superior argument that each and every one of us was affected by the pandemic. Some of our parents lost their jobs. EndSARS was there; people lost properties. So why would you be bringing that? Its like you are inflicting suffering on us. Their own argument had to bend for our own superior argument. And we end up paying N27,000 which was lesser than what we were meant to pay before. If there is a case where we are at a loggerheads, when we get to the river we’ll cross it.

Rate the Akeju administration.

I’ll always rate us over 100, we scored 89.

Why?

Yes, a lot of factors contributed to the 11 (percent) that is left off; nobody is perfect. We had issues with the pandemic. We had issues with management. At times we’ll be at loggerheads with management. We had issues with finances because the management did not release the union funds on time. These are the issues that brought about us having 89.

We had issues. We had challenges. And I also want to say when we came in there was no union on ground. Nobody to tell you how to do this. We started on a blank slate — Tabularasa. We had to reach out to people, how do we do this.

There are allegations in the air that there was an attack on a member of your campaign team. Can you confirm this?

The incident was true. My campaign manager, Akinola Olamide, a 300-level psychology student of the Faculty of Social Sciences. We were at the Faculty and we received a call that Kenny want to see him. They made it look like it was the popular Kenny from Zik Hall. When he got to SU building, they collected his car key, put him in the booth and took him to Oba dam. That was last week on September 29th. Around 5 p.m.

He was put in the boot at SUB around 5 p.m.? How did that happen? SUB is a busy place.

Nobody knows. He was taken to Oba Dam. He was beaten and they called the person that set him up.

Who set him up?

This was what happened. There was an earlier confrontation in the faculty. Someone in my faculty, I’ll hold her name to protect her identity.

Why are you protecting the identity of someone you are raising such an allegation against?

The case is still with the school authorities and since they have not concluded yet, I should still withhold her name. That’s one the ethics of security. She is vying for the position of the Faculty Social Director and she happens to be in my department. So there was a discussion in the faculty that she is vying for the position of the Faculty Social Director and she is supporting someone outside the faculty. When you finally become the Faculty Social Director, you would prioritise the interest of a non-FATSSSAites over that of someone in the faculty. You should lead by example.

That was what happened. And they called her through a video call to confirm if that was the person who said so and she said ‘yes’. They tried taking him outside the school but when they got to the school gate where they give back the tag to security men, the guy (campaign manager) rough-handled them and forced his way out of the moving vehicle and we filed a case at the security unit, they called the girl and she admitted that she did that. But she was playing on the fact that she didn’t know they would take it to that extent.

Those that attacked the guy, were they UI students?

Yes. I think they are UI students.

Why do you think UI students should vote for you?

The press night is tomorrow and the manifesto night comes up after. UI students are intellectuals. They would weigh the options before them. It’s not about the loudness. It’s not about the number of crowd. It’s not about coming from a larger faculty.

UI students would listen then they would compare and contrast and they would vote for their choice. As far as I am concerned, I am coming with something feasible. I have always said this, if UItes feel he has something better to offer then they should vote for him.

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