UISU TV Disciplinary Sitting; What could the Legislature have done better?

By Aduwo Ayodele

Following the investigative report published by Indy-press and the UCJUI about the improper handling of the UISU TV, the Disciplinary Committee of the Students Representative Council, the University of Ibadan headed by Idoko Adoyi on Saturday, 3rd of December presented the report of the Committee to the legislators. The 16-page report featured indices such as the premise of the investigation, recommendations, the methodology employed by the investigative committee, implied statements from the Treasurer, President, and Public Relations Officer, also implied interview of other WhatsApp TV handlers, a revelation of the findings by the inquiring committee and the Committee’s recommended sanctions. 

Truth be told, the job done by the Disciplinary Committee deserves its fair share of commendation. This is owing to the fact that the Students’ Union was not able to point at history, even if from the bin, which could have helped set the scene right in the face of the Committee’s adjudicative responsibilities.   Even so, the 5-member Disciplinary committee would have done desirably better. For instance, it would have been better if the committee report had been clear of the ill reactions that came from members of the parliament. That is, it would have been totally commendable if the report was meticulous and exhaustive, saving the Council from the time-shredding arguments that ensued between the legislators about the report’s relevance, clarity of findings, and whatnot. If this had been seen to, it which would have afforded the Legislators an ample opportunity to properly check into the report, rather than skim scantily through. 

Also, it is noteworthy that the 6th plenary sitting had a heated debate about who takes responsibility for these misdeeds. Some Legislators pointed out that the involvement of other members – of the executive board and beyond – in the lapses of the P.R.O. They argued that since the “Treasurer of the Union, (Daniel Peniel) was aware of the #5,000 remittances made to the Union’s account by Olalekan Ajibola”, a share of the sanction should be duly distributed to him. The inquiry itself revealed that the Treasurer implied that she was (also) in agreement with the actions of the PRO as regards the collection of union revenue into (his) personal bank account. A decision she faulted on “the administrative bureaucracy that is required for withdrawal of funds from the union’s account for an emergency.”  This call is in accordance with Article VI (i) which states that “in their conduct of the affairs of the Union, officials shall be individually or jointly responsible for any act or omission perpetrated in the performance of their duties.” As it is, the final cadence is yet to be fixed on the case. The setting continues, but hopefully with a debate less muddled debate with uniform arguments. 

The committee should have also done better as a matter of necessity in its articulation. There are units of tangible errors – sheer lexical errors, structural arrangement, and typographical flaws – all buried within the documents. All of these should be carefully noted by legislative members to prevent a repeat of such, in the same context of committee investigation and presentation. No matter how insignificant these appear, they contribute considerably to the eventual verdict, if they occur at pivotal areas in the documentation.

On the metrics and bases of evaluation, we could deduce that indices from the general recommendations of the House following its findings would suffice to fix the contentious issues peculiar to the investigation. Of recommendations include that;

“A total, comprehensive reorientation of union officers be conducted so as to remind officers of their duties and how to carry out those duties in line with the provisions of and respect for the constitution. Several cases of threats to the press by certain interest groups from among the student body were uncovered during this investigation. The committee recommends that public notices be issued by the union to remind students of the importance of the press and how it would treat anyone caught threatening pressmen. All future incurred expenses above the sum of 5,000 are run by the office of the treasurer for approval before such expenses are made. This will help prevent the issue of expending resources of the union in an unjustifiable way. The union should engage official graphics designers who will be responsible for all its design works including those required by the TV. This will help reduce cost as it will also serve as a way of publicizing the works of these engaged. The name of the union is a brand and should be defended as much as possible, on this, the committee recommends that unless written approval from the executive council is given, no individual or group of individuals within the school be allowed to use the name for commercial or other purposes.”

Regardless of the indices, it is important – for the sake of posterity – that parliamentarians allow justice to prevail. The indices are just one factor; the final verdict is largely dependent on the trajectory of the argument made by parliamentarians and the corresponding voting that follows. It is a necessity that parliamentarians avoid sentiments at the table of justice. It is important to the progress of the prosecution, that each Legislator considers that their contributions are bold contributions to the history of justice and due process in the University. For this, the next plenary sitting should be devoid of politics of familiarity, and arguments targeted at absolution or blame distribution and fingerpointing. 

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