By Ajadi Sodiq
“A man is no less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master once in a term of years.” – Lysander Spooner.
Katanga, a microcosm of UI, and UI a microcosm of Nigeria – these places and divisions can serve as a sample survey to gauge the values of people within them, reflecting the situation beyond the confines of the university environment.
In the realm of power and authority, a recent election akin to a war between rival halls took place, each fielding their own candidates, resulting in the emergence of a leader to occupy the highest seat in the Kunle Adepoju Building. This election period provided ample opportunity for observations, which I will discuss in this article, focusing on the variety night and awards presentation of the Great Independence Hall.
As is the history of UI, and not an unfamiliar occurrence, various individuals participate in election campaigns. Often, one distinct group can be identified; the loyalists, those who view these periods as opportunities for personal political gain or as a means of boasting about their influence in shaping the Students Union (SU) Leadership before leaving campus.
The loyalists, predominantly freshmen who, according to Spooner, can be likened to slaves, haven’t yet fully acclimated themselves to the campus environment. As such, they seek to pledge their loyalty to their masters in hopes of gaining favors or recognition.
It is disconcerting to note that during examination periods, these individuals are seen going door-to-door in every hall, soliciting support for their masters or candidates in exchange for fame and preferential treatment instead of reading. This blind support persists even after some of their masters are disqualified at the screening level; with the reward being further support to run for a seat in the Student Representative Council (SRC). Basically, they do it out of naivety and to some extent, gullibility.
Unfortunately, this situation has given rise to a new school of thought that prioritizes financial gain and popularity over idealistic principles espoused by scholars like Socrates and Aristotle.
The Masters: Whose Commands Prevail.
In the past, the Great Independence Hall has faced challenges when it comes to securing the highest seat at the Kunle Adepoju Building. Successive administrations have prayed earnestly for this wish to come true during their tenure, yet history has not been kind in granting this aspiration. Year after year, immense synergy, support, financial resources, and prayers are dedicated to the campaigns, often involving alliances, all in pursuit of fulfilling this long-awaited dream.
In the most recent election, the hall had two candidates vying for the positions of “Landlord” and “Image Maker” of the Kunle Adepoju Building. The AG, accompanied by an entourage and loyalists, made tremendous efforts to secure support. Various halls, including Awo, Idia, Queens, and different male halls, were campaigned in intensively. Even the “#Elon Musk Boys Rally#” featuring the Hall AG and the two candidates in a Prado Jeep aimed to portray them as capable leaders imbued with the necessary political skills. However, it proved to be unclear to the students, as they instead chose other candidates to take responsibility at the executive level.
The Reward For Loyalists.
Variety Nights are a common tradition in universities, where departments, faculties, and halls organize a night of enjoyment to ease the stress of examinations. While many departments and faculties refer to it as “Dinner and Awards Night,” it is referred to as variety night in the halls. Also, it is unlike the usual practice for award distribution in departments, faculties, and other halls which involves nominations and voting using a Google form, and the subsequent announcement of winners at the event. Executives simply impose individuals they deem suitable for these categories without residents’ consent or votes. Consequently, these categories are given to anyone who happens to be a loyalist and dance to their tunes. It is a level of nonchalance and disrespect that extends even to the manner in which funds are utilised; where instead of providing food or drinks to the students, hundreds of thousands are rather spent on stage settings among other things.
Well, all these have been the tradition since I got admitted into Katanga Republic. A new government is in charge now, and only time will tell if they would eventually deviate from the state of confusion that Katanga is in. However, that may be compared to asking a child to forget about eating candies.