UISU ’23 Election: Can Anything Good Come out of Indy Hall?

By: Lord Whistledown

On the surface, the 2023 presidential elections may have had significant effects on the electioneering process in Nigeria. For one, analysts may want to seriously consider youth involvement and the mobilising influence of social media in future elections. Also, it may have triggered a paradigm shift of political participation among the youth sub-population. However, despite the possibility of a new outlook, some factors of electioneering remain sacrosanct. The most relevant in this case would be mobilisation (or rather loosely, campaign), along ethnic and religious lines. By translation, state affiliations, ethnic biases, and religious affiliations, all still hold weight in rallying popular support and garnering popular votes. 

While the presidential elections have taken centre stage, the University is also on its way to another period of electoral heat to determine the next occupants of the Kunle Adepeju building. And given that the University is an ideal microcosm, campus electoral processes follow an almost identical paradigm to the National; hall affiliations, Faculty alignments, religion, and sometimes very subtly, ethnicity, are pivotal in mobilising political support. Under this arrangement, halls of residences and Faculties with relatively larger populations have been assumed to be political powerhouses in the University. The Independence hall, by virtue of its size and activity, rightly falls into the category of a powerhouse. 

However, the trend of results in the recent SU elections challenges the assumed political power independence hall is believed to hold. Since the reinstatement of the UI Students’ Union, for instance, the hall has not produced any presidential or vice presidential office holders. Also, despite significant voter registration and turnout from the Hall, it has not had any significant executive power in the last few years. The best chance the hall has had for presidential power since the reinstatement was the election between Olusegun Akeju and Ebenezer, popularly known as Hessy. While that may be excused on the altar of the electoral inconsistencies, subsequent political failures have made the political decline even more jarring. At least in the Olusegun Akeju administration, a Katangite, Mustapha Oluwakayode, occupied a position in the executive cabinet. Other Katangites, like Progress Afenifero or Asaye David, have not been so successful.

Tracking Back: Possible Root Causes of Indy’s political failures 

For a hall with remarkably functioning structures, like the legislature and the Fourth Estate, not much seems to be happening in terms of political awareness, orientation, or Camaraderie in the hall. As far back as the Olaogun Temitope administration, the hall seems to have relented on creating avenues to create a friendly environment for political assimilation in the hall. Occasions such as political congresses and even (less intense) social gatherings have dropped considerably in frequency in the hall. With these conditions, it is a plausible explanation that Katangites had prior affiliations before the hall began to gear back to political consciousness, weeks before the SU elections. 

A katangite, who chose to identify as Brown, commented on this. According to him, he is aware of the hall’s PRO, the speaker, and the Administrator General. Aside from that, there seems to be no serious political figure in the Hall. “I am not sure, I know of anyone that has any popularity like that in the hall. Although that may just be me, I don’t mingle much. But I am sure I know Wemmy, and I know the PRO, Praise. Those are the faces I remember when someone mentions politics’ ‘ He said. 

Ade, who is a Finalist in the Hall, traces back to more pungent observations. According to him, Indy only had congresses or any serious gathering at the Quadrangle, when a Katangite got into a fight. In his statement “It has always been trouble with Katangites this session. Other halls keep disrespecting us. First, they slapped someone. Next, they beat another person up. And that is the only time we ever gather to do any deliberations. So, Oga, how do you want them to rate us in the elections at all? Ade Complains. 

Furthermore and from observation, the basis and the process of Endorsement may be flawed; most especially, in the previous elections. There were silent controversies about the choice of candidature and the disregard of stakeholders in the hall. Quite plausibly, the hall was not very unified in some of its decisions on the choice of candidate. Oluwaseun, an immediate Alumni of the hall, expressed his sentiments about the candidature. In his words “some of those guys were confused. Imagine Indy presenting someone that had lost elections on multiple fronts. Some of those guys are not even that close to the stakeholders in the fall. And they want to win in Indy’s name?”. 

Lastly, among the cornucopia of relevant factors, the University’s new policy on candidature may have dampened the hall’s chances in the previous elections. Some of the possibly best candidates – based on track record and popularity – were automatically out of the race as a result of result qualifications. Seyi, now an off-Campus Katangites, stated that he lost interest in UI elections since the school began to hold the result criteria sacrosanct. According to him, people who could have been his favourites to win in the last two elections, all could not make it because of their results.

Looking Forward: Plausible Bail-outs toward the ForthComing Elections

Considering the recent failed attempts at political power, the hall may want to reconsider the basis and the process of its endorsement for the forthcoming UI SU 2023 elections. To convince the outside world to vote for a Katangite, it is important that Katangites are convinced. Ergo, while affiliations, popularity, and monetary donations to the hall are important factors, they should not take precedence over track record, as the basis for Hall endorsement. It would be most ideal that stakeholders rationally scrutinize the possible torchbearers based on their contributions to the Hall, Faculty, or University politics. Have these individuals held political offices in the hall before? What about their Faculties? Can the Independence Hall associate with their track records in these offices? 

These criteria may be even more relevant considering the increased inclination of the students to demand accountability prior to election, since the presidential elections. A defendable result, makes for a formidable candidature, especially in the Intellectual environment that is the University of Ibadan. Similarly, factors like Charisma, eloquence, charm, and most importantly, political intelligence are necessary for a convincing candidature. The Hall stakeholders may want to tighten its scrutiny enough to present the most convincing candidate to bear the torch in the UI’SU election. 

Furthermore, before the arena gets intense, the hall may want to increase its efforts at political awareness. Given the time in the session, assimilation may be a distant reality. However, to pull any significant strength in the forthcoming election, stakeholders may want to pull efforts together and engage the electorates in the hall. This would go a long way in cementing cohesion in the hall and converting the political strength into real results. Congresses, grassroots engagement, and even social gatherings are some of the most feasible avenues to achieve these results. The Hall had some of the highest numbers of registered voters in previous elections. Converting this number is an important step to achieving any political victory. 

Finally, cohesion is an important factor in winning an election. No matter how strong, a nation divided against itself does not win any battle. To restate its position as a political powerhouse in the country, stakeholders in the hall need to pull resources together to present the right candidates to the rest of the world. Aluta Continua!

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