UISU ‘23 Election: Why Apathy isn’t a Choice for UITES

In Nigeria, politics has been perceived to be a game of age and experience. The general sentiments favored the participation of the older generation; they were perceived to understand the intricacies of the game. The just concluded presidential elections, however, triggered a paradigm shift, or rather, a mental and ideological shift. It sparked the political consciousness of young Nigerians and made them actively participate in the electoral process. 

Now, young Nigerians stay up all night during parties’ primary elections, glued to their phone screens, monitoring electioneering processes across the country, and actively campaigning for political candidates of their choice. Most importantly, they were out in large numbers to vote. 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) estimated in January that students made up the largest category of voters. They represented 27.8 per cent of all registered voters by occupational distribution. Most importantly, when the National Universities Commission (NUC) ordered the closure of Universities across the country, students’ participation in the election was bound to skyrocket. While the political awakening is highly commendable, it is important that it does not stop at the National Level. The embers of such flame are meant to burn across our tertiary institutions in the country, most especially – the University of Ibadan. 

For one, University communities are microcosms of the country. Voting patterns – as in apathy, affiliations, and politicking –  in the University are similar to the pattern in gubernatorial and presidential elections. In the 2021 UISU election that brought in the Adewole Adeyinka administration, a total of 8,931 students were accredited by the UI electoral commission. 

A total number of 3,532 (approximately 40% of the accredited voters) students were able to vote throughout the specified time frame for the elections. These numbers go beyond words for the degree of political apathy existent within the University community. And this also goes across faculties and halls’ electioneering processes. UI students – as a subset of Nigerians – are comfortable with the apathy cycle. We refuse to participate in voting, then we complain about the efficiency of the leaders in the Kunle Adepeju Building. 

Political apathy is as important a choice as political participation, and choices are an integral part of our progression through life. These have immediate consequences and ripple effects in the future. As students of the University of Ibadan, we have a choice to make in the upcoming UISU ‘23 election. The crop of Union leaders elected directly affects the world’s perception about politics, representation, and intelligence in the University. We don’t want leaders who are always on the lookout for what they stand to gain before the needs of students are attended to.

Popularity Over Track Records 

From observation, UI students do not do due diligence to investigate records or ascertain the competence of these candidates during elections. Rather, popular candidates opt for administrative positions and they often get elected. Some of these aspirants do not achieve a third of what they promised to students in their previous offices. 

If they couldn’t be held accountable for their words in the past, why should you entrust a greater responsibility in their hands? Under no circumstance should aspirants with a bad track record attempt to run for other offices. If anything, it’s a disregard for the intellect of the students. Even the Christian holy book believes that “The one who faithfully manages the little he has been given will be promoted and trusted with greater responsibilities. But those who cheat with the little they have been given will not be considered trustworthy to receive more.’’  

Hall/Faculty Endorsement Over Press Nights and Manifesto Nights 

Faculty and Hall endorsement is another culture that poses threats to the electoral process in the University. Session by Session, leaders in faculties and halls present candidates in the name of endorsement. They further push by coercing students under their jurisdiction to favor their candidates even when they hold zero to no competence for the position aspired for. 

This should be no surprise because these student leaders were elected into office through the same process. Simply by observing, this bears significant semblance to the politics of tribal, regional, and religious zoning that trades off National cohesion in a dangerous game of numbers.

To effect any significant change in the National polity, it must begin at the intellectual powerhouses of the country. It is pertinent for students to be able to objectively analyse candidature based on manifesto quality, track record, and visible leadership traits rather than Faculty, religious, or Hall associations. That is, of course, if we ever hope for a National election devoid of ethnic strife or religious volatility. 

For the UI SU ‘23 election, there must be a change to these political shenanigans. In the same vein, it is necessary that students regard organised and intellectual channels of quality assessment – like the Press nights and Manifesto nights. These channels are enough to inform objective choices of candidates and set strong antecedents for accountability in the electoral process.  

In summary, involvement in the UISU ‘23 electioneering is the only way that aspirants would take the students seriously. It’s in our hands to determine the next crop of leaders that will be the face of the University, and by extension, the face of the Nation. With proper involvement and a quality electioneering process, we can build a culture of political service and accountability in student and National polity. Aluta Continua! 

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