Social gatherings, intellectual events, and the political tension in the air are tell-tale signs of an ending academic session. In the same vein, the veil preventing political power from changing hands, across the administrative stratas in the University, gets thinner with each passing week. To anyone that is conscious, evaluations – as in continuous assessment tests, examinations, progress reports, and team appraisals – are part of the hallmarks of periods like this.
In the subsequent paragraphs, we extend the same consciousness to Adejumo Uthman and his administration as the leader of the evolution team, and the Administrator-General of the Katanga Republic. Aside from appraising his conduct, the piece evaluates the success of his administration based on some of the promises he made during the last campaign phase of the electoral cycle.
Administrative Undercurrent: Adejumo Uthman and the Wave of Un-executed Initiatives
In 2021 when he wanted to secure the votes of the students in the Independence Hall, Adejumo Uthman rode on the wave of some innovative initiatives. True to the intent behind the ideas, executing them may have revolutionized administrative strategy and structure in the hall forever. However, it’s 2023 and none of these initiatives exist physically in the hall. Some of the initiatives – in the exact coinage of the Administrator-general – include the Katanga Welfare Foundation, the Katangites-by-barter Initiative, and the Institute of Continuing Empowerment Education.
To start with, the Katanga Welfare Foundation was supposed to cater to crucial social and financial needs of Katangites that reside in the hall. To execute this, Adejumo Uthman promised to influence the decision to constitutionally establish the foundation. For one, the constitutional establishment of a Welfare scheme is outside his constitutionally recognized jurisdiction as the Administrator General. To do this, he would have to influence legislators to move the motion or influence the legislation by suggesting policy directions. But, let’s keep the technicalities aside for a moment. As far as the Independence Hall is concerned, there are no such structures as a Katanga welfare foundation, whether constitutionally backed or otherwise.
As far as the legislative sittings go, there have been no publicly disseminated resolution to establish such foundations, and there are certainly no pointers among the projects of the administration that allude to the AG’s efforts at establishing one. On no account In Indy, this session, has any Katangites benefited from the benevolence of a Welfare scheme courtesy of the Hall administration. We might as well conclude – from this and the inactivity of the other executives – that welfarism in the hall is a relic of the past, left behind in the slow march of evolutionary progress.
Following the same trail, the Katangite-by-Barter initiative would have been an effective talent pipeline in the University, the first of its kind, in the likes of Campuses like the University of Lagos and the MIT. However, despite the brilliance of this innovation, and the many potentials it holds, the administration did not execute it or anything close to it. In reality, there are no pointers to any attempts at partnership towards a talent pipeline. For context, the Katangite-by-Barter initiative was supposed to be a partnership between the hall, and relevant organizations (Private and public) to connect Katangites to companies and organizations, depending on their individual talents. On the few occasions where talents in Indy have had to work with private organizations owned by Alumni, there was no involvement of an initiative or an oversight structure for feedback and accountability.
Finally on initiatives, his manifesto hinted at establishing an “Institute of Continuing Empowerment Education ” (ICEE) in the session. According to him, The ICEE would see to furnishing Katangites with hard and soft skills. Specific skill sets that the Administrator General referenced include electrical repair, hair styling, event planning, coding digital marketing, data analysis among others. He also promised that the ICEE would furnish and update a Katanga Library.
Finally, according to the plan, the ICEE would leverage virtual platforms for greater participation and cost effectiveness. Up until now, the Hall has no records of such institutes or similar initiatives at empowerment in the hall. Considering one of the conditions for execution would be that skillful talents are available, Indy Hall is a home to a considerable number of experts. However, the nonchalance for execution and accountability, may have yet again, nipped another opportunity for skill acquisition in the bud.
The Administrator General dedicated a full page of his Manifesto document to revamping camaraderie and political consciousness in the hall. However, since there were no especially concrete plans at political resuscitation, we would evaluate this plan on the basis of our observation about political consciousness in the hall. While the AG may have made attempts a consolidating the representation of the Hall outside and rallying support for the hall representatives, this has no translated to any substantial political awareness at the Hall’s grassroots. The attempt at revamping intra-hall camaraderie also informed the promise to create a “BrotherHood”. The most important part of this paragraph long promise was the plan to create a structure – in the form of platform – to monitor performance indicators for the people in the hall working for and towards inclusion and brotherly camaraderie.
His primary mode of engaging Katangites was through social events and traditional intra-hall gatherings. With previous sessions as the basis for evaluation, there have been a relative drop in frequency of these social events in the hall. However, one could make a case for time; the session is still far from over as far as social activities are concerned, maybe execution is still feasible after all. But as far as leveraging these programs for political integration, the tides are not in his favor; alliances deepen with days, and the political atmosphere is very tense. Fo all we can observe, this brotherhood has developed into a fraternity of unfulfilled promise; no better than it was prior to his assumption of office!
The rest of the AG’s manifesto were not very concrete or specific. In summary, however, he promised infrastructural development, promotion of academic excellence and creating an “adequate” sponsorship policy for the hall. Like all of the other plans, there has been no demonstrable attempt at consistent execution on all of these plans. At the moment, the only referenceable bases for a benefit of doubt would be time, the strike break and the limited powers of the AG relative to the Hall’s Management.
But how long can we reference these as excuses for lack of consistency and a disregard to accountability? If any of the administrators see their manifestos as a map for execution, what then is the deafening silence about the circumstances that surround the inability to execute? What happened to communication, openness and accessibility?
Of Show-boyism, Image Making and Charisma; What Exactly are the AG’s Strong Suits?
The hall has recorded significant events in the past few months that registered the AG as a charismatic administrator with a penchant for image making. The harassment scandals with the SU President and residents of the C-block, and between Katangites and some students in the Zik Hall are part of such instances where he demonstrated considerable charisma and stood up for Katangites. The media reports about this event reveals a certain consistency; an unwavering resolve in the face of conflict and a demonstrably strong concern for the hall’s public image. The same can also be assumed to explain how he consistently drops in to communicate with Katangites through the Public address system, as against the designated executive – the P.R.O.
However, in the grand scheme of leadership in the Independence, charisma and image making are bare minimum. If these are the basis for political scrutiny and appointment, then we may as well hand over leadership to random local bus conductors in Agbowo: they also demonstrate certain level of loyalty and commitment to public perception.
For Katangites and intending political office holders in the hall; these are lessons. Good leadership extends way beyond innovative ideas, image making and public acceptance. There is the element of execution, communication and accountability. There is also the aspect of exposure, and understanding the requirements of the office. Inferentially, the Administrator General’s performance has been sub-optimal as far as execution is concerned. This then begs the questions, should Katangites expect to see the ground work for future execution? Are there plans in place for continuity? Will the next Tom, Dick or Harry also lie to us? Should we expect to get ditched, like before, at the end of the administration?