The introduction and the inclusion of the office of the Sports secretary during the Student Union elections in 2021 was regarded as a welcome development. During the Akeju Oluwasegun led administration, the University did not have the office. Babatunde Olawale, a student resident in the Nnamdi Azikiwe Hall, emerged as the winner to occupy the office at the last phase of the election cycle.
Before he became the Sports Secretary of the Students’ Union, OJB – as he is popularly known – organized the 200-level Survival Cup. Considering the innovation and success of this cup, the student community had a lot of expectations for his office as the foremost sports administrator in the University. To consolidate these expectations, his manifesto was laced with appealing promises about sporting activities in the University.
This piece is an inquest into the office of the Student Union Sports Secretary. It will evaluate his performance based on his promises and the sporting events in the University campus, since his emergence.
Football is the Main Sport in UI, but How Have Other Sports Fared?
In Nigeria, football is the main sport that people follow, and the University of Ibadan community is no different. However, Babatunde Olawale promised that he would maintain a healthy balance between Football and other sports in the University. According to him, he would ensure that other sports get equal attention if he assumed office as the Sports Secretary on Campus.
To achieve his aim, Babatunde Olawale promised to organize two sports events every month to create awareness about other sports. However, while there has been a flurry of football events in the University, other sporting activities remain in the wilderness, starved of attention and sponsorship. For instance, a significant number of UI students do not know about the existence of the University’s Judo team, Swimming team, Tennis team, or Chess Team, just to mention a few.
Granted, OJB organized the 200-level survival cup – a football competition. But besides that, how many events has he organized for other sporting activities in the University? Perhaps he believes the time is not right to organize competitions yet. For some of the sporting events, why is there a relative lack of awareness about them? Did the Sports Commissioner not consider meeting with the stakeholders? Recommending a structure? And using his office to influence public perception towards these activities? OJB also promised the University that he would negotiate half-days of lectures at the height of sporting activities in the University. Keeping feasibility and the influence of the powers that be aside, it is plausible to grant him the benefit of doubt that he would execute it, given the tight schedule of the semester.
Furthermore, the Sports Secretary promised to collaborate with sports institutions in Nigeria, like the Nigeria Chess Federation, and the Oyo State Ministry of Sports to foster the growth of sports in the institution. However, neither the University nor the Chess community knows of and has felt the impact of such collaborations. By implication, no such collaborations have been made. The Chess community – for instance – is very strong in the University of Ibadan, but the Sports Secretary has contributed very little to its growth.
As of the time of this publication, all efforts to reach the Sports Secretary – via calls and chats — to give his comments concerning these promises have proved abortive. So far, he has displayed a tendency for avoiding important questions about his office. On different occasions, Indy Press correspondents have reached out to get his thoughts on issues concerning sports in the University. On all of these occasions, his reply has often been “I am busy” or “I will get back to you”.
Furthermore, OJB made the promise to “digitize and visualize” sporting activities in the University of Ibadan. However, there seems to be no significant attempt, plan or activity directed toward digitization. This begs the question, did Babatunde Olawale ever took a breather to assess the feasibility of his promises before dishing them out to Uites? Aside from the University of Ibadan football team(UI Pioneers) games at the previous Nigerian University Games(NUGA), how many other sports activities were available to students digitally? What about the Basket team and the Judo team? Are these sports not relevant too?
To add more spice to his earlier promises, the Sports Secretary promised that he will promote sports journalism in UI through. He promised to do this through training programs and employment schemes to sports organizations. To start with, there are no records of any collaboration between the Union and any sports visualization organization. Secondly, no student journalist – at the moment – has been trained and employed as a result of OJB’s contributions. Ironically, he has been avoiding the same journalists he promised to train and collaborate with.
In conclusion, the session – and by implication the administration – is not over yet. Babatunde Olawale can still redeem his office by diversifying the University sporting Portfolio, for starters. An independent volleyball competition, for instance, would look good to the eye. How about organizing a judo tournament?He could also use a collaboration with the Teqball federation in the Country; it is a relatively new sport and the federation is desperate for a collaboration.
Babatunde Olawale’s plans and campaign promises hold a lot of potential for sports in the University. Hopefully, he dances to the tune of accountability and maximizes the rest of the session to execute. The sun in the sky may just be enough to dry these clothes! Aluta Continua!