By: Timilehin Precious
Student governance, and representation are important bedrocks of a balanced academic environment. With each new session, there is a corresponding birth of new student government, elected to make relevant decisions and stand in for the entirety of the student body within its jurisdiction. Governance in itself however is a lifeless structure without the participation of the people. Over the years, the Independence hall has been known to be a life force in the politics, and decision making in the University, and Oyo state as a whole.
The hall has built this influence from years of consistent participation. However, the events of the just concluded Students’ Union election, with respect to the Independence hall, begs for a re-evaluation of our local political atmosphere and our influence at the Students’ Union level. The subsequent paragraphs contain a brief look into the events of the last election, and where the Hall might have gotten it wrong. The article also provides insights on major steps to correct possible political defects in the hall. Finally, it explores in brief, the consequences of a successful political awakening for the hall and the residents.
Firstly, what happened at the recently concluded Students’ Union election, and what could it possibly mean for the hall? Before that, here are information that should be noted:
- The Independence hall is one of the largest halls of residence in the University of Ibadan. As a result of this, it holds a considerable percentage of the voting power of the University of Ibadan.
- The Hall holds the record for the highest number of voters registered in the last election.
These pieces of information look praise worthy on the surface. However, elections results were not in the favor of any of the candidates from the Hall. Aside from glitches in the electoral framework, one could infer either of two things from these results. First, the hall did not pull its full voting power on the day of the election. Second, Katangites possibly did not trust the candidates to serve the hall’s interests as executives. Either way, it all boils down to one thing – the dwindling political consciousness in the Independence hall.
Of a truth, reduced population of Katangites in the hall, and the introduction of a virtual session are some external factors that contributed to the down spiral of political fervor in the Hall. However, there were pointers to loopholes inside the political structures of the hall itself. Here are some few instances:
- There was a drastic reduction of activities that stimulated political awareness in the hall. A trip down memory lane would reveal a little bit of what this means. For instance, some sessions back, the Indy hall is known to hold constant Congress meetings to decide crucial matters that affected the its progress. Nonchalance is not unexpected when people don’t even get to make decisions that affect them directly. Isn’t that the case with Nigeria too?
- Also, there was a significant reduction in the quality of plenary sessions and similar activities that kept the sanctity of the hall’s internal polity. In an Indy press’ article about the state of the legislature, this was attributed to the climax of disinterested greenhorn lawmakers in the house.
- Finally, there was the influence of reduced commitment among the bulk of the executive members. To the knowledge of this institution, majority of the actions they took were reactionary. They were pushed to action due to the backlash from the public and the fourth estate.
If the above are enough evidence of political apathy in the hall, perhaps the just concluded Hall elections would do the magic. For one, there was a significant reduction in the quality of candidates that vied for political positions in the hall. The results of the press nights are enough proof of that. Also, two of the portfolios are empty; a situation that rarely ever happens in the very competitive Indy Hall. Finally, the elections were only competitive for just two portfolios – the rest went unopposed. For a hall that prides itself in being the only living hall, those were pretty dead metrics, don’t you think?
WHAT OPTIONS COULD THE HALL EXPLORE TO INITITATE THE NEEDED REVIVAL?
To bring back what seem to be gradually slipping away, the new set of stakeholders could try the following approach for a change:
- Integrating political awareness into the orientation/baptism tradition for Indy Hall Fresh men – The orientation programs and the traditions of integrating students into the hall would serve as the perfect breeding ground for Pro-Indy politicians. This approach promises to be very productive, especially with the surrounding circumstances and the immediate feeling of camaraderie.
- Revival of inclusive programs like congresses – These programs creates a sense of political relevance and belonging in Katangites. At least that way, each person gets a direct voice in controversial matters that directly affects him.
- Active execution of campaign promises – When residents of the hall can point to completed capital or social projects, they automatically become more aware of the political atmosphere around them.
- Accountability Programs – Accountability programs could catalyze the hall back into its glory mode as a major decision making entity in the University. This could foster deeper politician – resident relationship in the hall. After all, more trust in political office holder translates to more participation in political processes.
The current Indy Hall is like a giant unconscious of its potential. The re-awakening is not only guaranteed to launch an era of political development in the hall, it could serve as a background for rebuilding the influence we have lost in the student union as a whole. Finally, Independence hall could be the example of a working political structure, and a representation of a bright future for other student administrations and the Nigerian youth as a whole. ALUTA CONTINUA!