By: Lord Whistledown
When Pericles – a pioneer philosopher from ancient Greece – described time as the wisest Counselor, he must have stumbled on its almost omniscient and all-revealing nature. Time can add substance to an aspersion; reveal the loophole of a theory, and justify a gamble. Time can also evaluate our collective decisions and present the results to us in a Kaleidoscope of consequences.
In 2021, the UI students’ community made a decision to entrust Adewole Adeyinka (Mascot) with the rudders of the Students’ Union Leadership. Being the first power transition after reinstatement of the Union, the period was marked with relatively intense political turbulence of competition, propaganda, anxiety, skepticism and concerns for the future of the Union. Murmurs from the political intelligentsia, on campus, particularly reflected concerns about sustained student representation, and the plausibility of the union spiraling down the path of complete passiveness.
Now, enough time has passed since the polls. It is important to delve into history, and listen to what time has to say about our decision in the last Election. This piece seeks to evaluate Mascot’s understanding of the Students political topography through the lens of time – since 2021. The metric for evaluating performance– as in the case of the other political office holders – is his Manifesto. Did the student Body make the right decision? How effective was our collective decision making? Was the student body capable of choosing the best for itself or did we perhaps make a mistake?
However, rather than stop at just that, the subsequent paragraphs will take the accountability check further, and present a more rounded evaluation of Mascot’s performance on the grand stage that is student Unionism. In this case, his conduct, press freedom, access and his managerial skills will be brought under scrutiny. Afterall, and In the words of Benjamin Parker, with great power comes a really great responsibility.
Mascot’s Security Blueprint; What has the Meetings Amounted to?
In his attempt to secure the confidence of the Students in the last election, Mascot rode on a significant wave of promises, one of which is a Comprehensive Security blueprint. This blueprint was majorly pivoted on engaging all the available human resources to cater to security at the different areas of student concentration on Campus and outside. To achieve this, he promised to leverage strategic partnerships with community stakeholders and state recognized security outfits in Ibadan. He also extended this to the school premises; the President promised to call for dedicated security posts and extra security officers at the lecture theaters used for vigil study sessions within the school premises. In addition to this, he promised to push for the installation of more street lights on the streets of the University. He also promised to push for dedicated emergency numbers dedicated to harassment and security threats. Finally, he promised to actively work towards the resuscitation of the Students Union Central Defense Committee.
Aside from the comprehensive nature of this security blueprint, a significant portion of the promises require both the contribution of the Union and both internal and external security outfits. By implication, execution – on the part of the Union – may not necessarily translate to implementation, on the part of the secondary outfit. Speaking about execution, Indy Press Organization, in an interview with Mascot gathered that he and some student stakeholders – Faculty Presidents for instance – have met with some of the community heads in Agbowo, Bodija and Sango, in December, prior to his official assumption of the office as the President of the Union. He also stated that he met with some security stakeholders, like the commissioner of Police, the Director General of Amotekun Cops and the officer in Charge of DSS in Ibadan North. He also added that the Union was already able to get emergency lines from the Police, even though, sometimes, they could be unresponsive.
In an interview to confirm whether these meetings translated to any significant result, Adeniran, a 300 level that lives around Major Salawu, Agbowo, confirmed to the organization that he noticed increased security patrol in his streets, especially by the Amotekun Cops. While he could not specifically attribute this to the Union, he explained how he noticed some communally decided security adjustment in his area. Favor, another UI student that lives in Waters, Agbowo, commented on the frequency of Amotekun cops in her area, especially since the Middle of last year. She explained that she sometimes notices them in mufti and sometimes in Uniform. She concluded by specifying that although some of these officers live in the street, there have definitely seen more of them relative to 2021.
As for Jadesola, who lives at the Adepoju Axis of Agbowo, her area had always had vigilante guys see to security. However, she noticed a significant tightening in street security in 2022. “I observed a notice on the walls of our house, and part of the content was to increase the number of streetlights, ban some people that collect metal waste, and charge more for street security. If I remember correctly, this was in response to some rumors of theft in other areas of Agbowo”.
Finally, on off-campus security efforts, the Union of Campus Journalists reported the meeting between representatives of the Student Union and the Oyo State Commissioner of Police. A follow up report by UCJUI about the commissioning of a security post in Agbowo, also came in November 2022
Speaking on campus security strategies, Indy Press also gathered from Mascot that he – together with the Man O’ War arm of the School – resuscitated the student union’s central defense commission. He also added that his administration pioneered a student Intelligence commission – a network of individuals that work closely with the Union and expert security officials.
Corroborating the Student Union President, Mr Mohammed Bello, the coordinator of the Man O’ War corps on Campus confirmed the establishment of the Central Defense Commission. “We were invited. We have only had a few meetings; maybe two or three. But the Students’ Union President invited us”. Mr. Bello further explained that the attempt to consolidate the defense commission – as far as he knew – was still in place. He said that they – the committee – had not had any major activity, up until the time of the call.
Inferentially, there has been significant improvement in security as far as response, decentralization and personnel is concerned, relative to the past four years in the University. At least, on the part of the Union, significant efforts – with considerably evident proof – have been made towards catering to UI students across all major zones of concentration. These efforts may have been aided or triggered by the current security restructuring currently ongoing in the School’s security outfit – the Abefele. Tangible evidence of these include the security post and officers at the Junction near Saint Annes for instance.
Partnership and Gray Areas: Concise Evaluation of Mascot’s Health Plans
True to the expectations to address major healthcare issues in the University, the crux of the first part Mascot’s health blueprint was to tackle human resource scarcity, response time inconsistency and Ignorance. In summary, he promised to leverage partnerships with the University College Hospital and the Jaja clinic through strategic meetings with the concerned stakeholders. He also promised to engage students in (informed) medical response through volunteering and training programs. The health blueprint extended to cater to training (and possibly certification) of Health ministers across the Halls of residence in the School, to improve immediate medical response.
Speaking on the execution, Mascot explained to Indy Press that the Union could not proceed with any meaningful partnerships with UCH because it operates independent of the University as far as medical services are concerned. As for Jaja, the President commented on the facility’s accessibility. He said that he meets the Director consistently for strategy and solutions to solving health challenges in the University. He alluded the consistency of his meeting to the frequent exit of medical personnel in the Facility. On the promise of Volunteers, he claimed that there are student Volunteers in the facility, and he also mentioned that some of these volunteers couldn’t clerk because they are certified doctors and that affected getting them as volunteers in Jaja.
Inferring from the Interview with Mascot and some student Stakeholders in the University, the student-centric parts of the President’s plans have some positive promises as far as execution is concerned. The Union has made considerable progress as far as Malaria awareness and prevention is concerned.
For instance, as part of the campaign against Malaria, the Union was able to gather Mosquito Nets to serve the student populace. Speaking on the distribution, the President explained that the Union decentralized distribution by entrusting the nets to the administrative heads of the halls in the University. Corroborating this, the Administrator General of the Independence Hall confirmed that he received the mosquito nets, and distributed them to Freshers majorly at the Hall’s annual freshers orientation program. Furthermore, Indy Press reached out to a stakeholder in the Obafemi Awolowo Hall health committee who also confirmed receipt of the Mosquito Nets. She explained that not only did the hall receive mosquito nets, the Union supplied it to the Hall upon request.
Still on some of his health promises, the President explained to Indy Press that the Union has had cleanup exercises in partnership with student bodies – like JCI for instance – and as a standalone activity. Speaking to the JCI UI President, Miss Farida Oladejo, she confirmed that the organization has had a cleanup exercise in collaboration with the Union earlier in the session. In her account, she explained the JCI is not new to cleanup exercises with the Union, and that prior to the current session, they have had joint cleanup programs with the Union. By implication and from the statements, Mascot has delivered on his cleanup promises as far as execution and frequency are concerned.
Furthermore on his health plans, the promise to train and certify health ministers across the Halls of residence in the University may represent a gray area in the delivery of Mascot’s health plans. In a conversation with Health stakeholders in Awo Hall and Indy Hall, they confirmed that they had nor heard about any training for health ministers. As far as these stakeholders were aware, there was no such training that involved their respective halls of service. Speaking on this plan, the president explained that there is a student in Charge of execution.
“You can ask the Chairman of the Health. The Union has already put a student in charge, and they have had several meetings. There have been training sessions and some Faculties did not send anyone” he explained. In his response to whether the training(s) held and the halls did not participate, was “obviously”.
Finally, the health blueprint contained plans at hygiene awareness activities and hall cleanup exercises. Students and stakeholders across female halls of residences – the Queen Idia and Awo Hall especially – have confirmed to Indy press that they had tank cleanup exercises and environmental hygiene with the help of students from Male halls of residences and the intervention of the Students’ Union.