By: Babatimehin Peace
When the morning fog and chilly nights returned, I was particularly perplexed. Given that when it deserted in the middle of December, I could have wagered an arm — and even a leg — that the harmattan season was well behind us. So, in the moment it resumed and I had continued the lip-licking routine characteristic of harmattan, one thing became clear to me: I probably wasn’t the best weather man in town.
Regardless, and apart from the insufferable epilepsy of harmattan, I haven’t refrained from making predictions about seasons. For instance, given the increase in intensity of unsolicited pleasantries and A4-paper posters with names of students boldly sprawled across, I am again willing to wager on the season. The season of elections on campus is inching near and a crop of student-politicians have begun emerging to set eyes on the seats of power. However, I will be only misleading if I didn’t reflect the skepticism within me at the epidermal level.
For an instance, spotlighting the Students’ Union, this writer is disconcerted, now more than ever, about the tradition of overachieving, yet rather oblivious, youngsters stepping up to contest positions in the Union just for the sake of the CV. It is disturbing because, one would have, in the very least, expected an understanding, that transcends mere memorization of the roles they ultimately seek to fill as prerequisite — especially in times where threats of fee increase are densely looming and the last shards of welfarism policies are being systematically mopped up at the national level. My fear, rightly predicated on the fact that in times when the challenges bedeviling the Students’ Union are multifaceted and particularly nuanced, we are experiencing a plague of ‘unlicensed drivers’ going at a shot for the driver’s seat.
At this point, permit me to argue that I consider the Students’ Union positions as some of the most ruthless and unforgiving on the planet. Of course, at first, this comes off as blasphemous, but I indeed retain my stance for the following reasons:
- Time: As far as my knowledge goes, I’m not aware of any other typical political office that spans one academic session — which depending on the circumstance — can be as short as only eight months of active service. Yet, within this timeframe, an elected officer is expected to surmount mountains taller than Everest. This implies one thing, there is no time to learn on the job! In a twinkle, one is already many months down. Also, convention prevails against the idea of a second tenure.
- Students’ Populace: The dynamism of the student populace is one that forever amuses me. They demand results and answers from the elected officers without willingness to participate in the process. Perhaps by reason of magic or divination, theirs is simply to see results. Of course, this implies the absence of understanding of a Union’s workings among the students, but in the end, it remains the ‘cup of tea’ of the elected officers
- Academics: All these still never suffices to explain away academic failure. In the end, what qualifies a student-politician is the fact that he is first a student. The Students’ Union executive positions are primarily a part-time job, albeit with full-time challenges.
Against the backdrop of the above, it becomes easy to postulate that executive Union offices require precision. Hence, again, why I fear for the future.
Navigating the challenges of Student Union leadership requires a joint effort. Educating the student body about Union operations, enhancing candidate selection processes, and establishing mentorship programs can bridge gaps. Acknowledging the short tenure and addressing academic pressures are crucial. While concerns exist, these challenges present opportunities for positive change, ensuring future student leaders are better equipped to advocate for the student body’s welfare.