As the first Students’ Union movement to be established in Nigeria, the election or the act of voting should be the expression of students’ commitment to themselves, to one another, to the country and even our world. The election ahead is a critical juncture in consolidating students’ democracy, of which the University of Ibadan Students’ Union movement is not an exemption.
With regards to the University of Ibadan, elections are well known occurrences held every session. Commonly, in second semester, the euphoria and spasm of ‘electioneering’ campaigning are clinch administrative offices of the Union; a needless frenzy sky-high. The hard-shelled landscape is better understood as two landscapes, although of the same mind. The political landscape as well as the unionism landscape. Two different interplaying facets.
Discussing the first facet, the political outlook at the University of Ibadan is vile and shelled like that of a backsliding snail. Murky, unprogressive is the very nature that characterizes the University of Ibadan Students’ Union political landscape. Reminiscent of a snail relapsing into its shell, the University of Ibadan students’ community exposure to unionism is not by any means better-timed. Than has been realized, there is the denial of the solemn truth that the landscape of Students’ Unionism is weak or being ignorant of its glaring weakness.
The transition into second semester welcomes itself with too many handshakes. Besides the improper use of non-detachable informative posters, ambitions have become one of the most recurring words looming large. As expected, the expiration of one-year tenure of the incumbent Samuel Samson Tobiloba-led administration draws near. Drawing closer to the tag end, the administrative positions of the Union would be made vacant. The untenanted space how be it has to be restocked. Doing so, and valuably, it is required that both the ambitious aspirants and the University of Ibadan student community must begin to see beyond the physical vacuum. On the farther side of truth, the bareness or emptiness of altruistic and public-spirited students’ leaders in the union, in the light of certain issues, must be considered a prime vacuum, the cost of which have been damning. This is quite the reason for the balls-up and let-down that has led to spurious and unwarranted imposition of unsolvable fees, as well as concerns.
Given the objectionable state of students’ welfare, the state of students’ consciousness in UI makes it difficult to believe that a flash of miracle can happen in the forthcoming election. In a charged sense, students have not been awakened to their true membership roles to the Union. How then can the Students’ Union forthcoming election produce uncommon candidates that can steer a radical departure?
There is equally no doubt that among students, political mobilization works, but not student consciousness. As an instance, the last Students’ Union election garnered thousands of votes, but not the October 14th, 2023 Students’ Union Congress. In fact, it will not be strange to discover that some of the aspirants contesting were not at the congress and were irresponsibly disinterested in the gathering. Indeed, the level of student consciousness remains the most important, remote motivation for the making of candidates.
Most social scientists have agreed that traits do matter where student leadership is concerned. Merriam Webster’s Third New International Dictionary wittingly mentions words like ‘hallmark’ and ‘peculiarity’ as words that mean exactly or nearly the same as trait. This concession of thought and synonyms on the grandness of traits aligns with a translated Yoruba dictum, which makes a logical connection of traits to students’ leadership as ‘a reign like an Egungun festival’. That ingenious aphorism is accompanied by an incredible cautionary advice, albeit covertly, but well directed to whoever the next masquerade yet to be unmasked would be and to anyone who has ears fastened to his or her head. Like a gliding, acrobatic reign of a twitching masquerade to the delight or despair of an audience, so is leadership within the students’ community. Until we get it right, the struggle continues.