Following a series of meetings with the students, Hall chairpersons, Faculty Presidents and stakeholders in the University of Ibadan, and that there could be some misconceptions or misgivings about the postponement of the Students’ Union election in the University of Ibadan; it becomes pertinent to address issues regarding our great Union. It must be noted that the death of one of us, Mr. Mayowa Alaran which resulted into a peaceful demonstration led to congresses being held at the Students’ Union building, University of Ibadan.
A meeting was held on 12 May, 2015 where all aspirants and some stakeholders of the Union were present to deliberate on the state of the Union. After the said meeting, all the aspirants agreed to postpone the Union election till certain issues are resolved. A copy of the letter sent to the Students’ Union Electoral Commission by the aspirants was sent to the Union of Campus Journalists and National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) Joint Campus Committee, Oyo State.
Following the submission of that letter on 13 May, 2015, all aspirants agreed to boycott the Press Night scheduled for that same day as organized by the electoral commission. On this note, we hereby wish to reiterate that the letter sent to the Electoral Commission was received.
On 14 May, 2015, another meeting was convened by the School Management to dialogue with aspirants, Hall Chairperson, Faculty Presidents as well as other stakeholders of the Union. At the meeting with the Vice Chancellor and other members of staff together with the students’ representatives, salient matters affecting the Union’s constitution and matters on students’ welfare was deliberated on. At the meeting, it was agreed that the election scheduled to hold on 16 May, should be postponed till the following issues are resolved:
A REVIEW CONSTITUTION AS REGARDS THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION COMPOSITION AND THE ELECTORAL PROCESSES
There is no gain saying that the current Students’ Union constitution is an instrument of the school management, which is designed to keep the Students’ Union under its lock. A look at the constitution will reveal the level of interference of the university management, especially with regard to the sections pertaining to the composition of the electoral committee.
The Constitution provides for the Electoral Commission under ARTICLE XVII (17), SECTION II (2): which makes it crystal clear that the Electoral Commission is indeed not independent, and the students through the Students’ Representative Council have little or no say in its composition.
It should be noted that the constitution provides under Article X (i) that the election shall normally be held not later than 30 days after resumption.
However, the above mentioned provision has left the constitution of the Electoral Commission to the discretionary power of the Electoral Chairperson as he/she is the one to request for representatives from the students body.
Another gap in this provision of the constitution is the composition of the Electoral Commission as regards students’ representation.
Most of the students’ representatives do not reflect the will of the students, as the Students’ Representative Council has no power or jurisdiction to screen them. It is of great concern that most representatives sent to the Electoral Commission are of questionable character and some of them are even part of the legislative arm of the Students’ Union and others are mostly past students’ leaders who have one interest to serve or the other.
In actual fact, the Students’ Union Electoral Commission is not in fact independent and this to a large extent questions the objectivity and integrity of past elections.
Apart from the ARTICLE XVII that provides for the electoral commission, the interference of the school management can also be seen under the provision of ARTICLE VI SECTION V. From that provision, any reasonable human being would most likely conclude that the Audit Committee is a big joke.
Apart from the inclusion of the Deputy Registrar and a nominee of the Chief Internal Auditor, it is pertinent to ask how people that ought to be audited can still be members of the committee. It becomes pertinent to ask for a reconstitution of this committee to accommodate ordinary members of the Union. Of course, this is without prejudice to SECTION III of the Senate Regulations in the Students’ Handbook which provides for the Chief Internal Auditor of the university to audit the accounts of the Union.
The Union is ready to recognize the University Auditor as an external auditor and the Audit Committee to perform its functions too as a mercenary of a true independent Students’ Union.
There are other sections of the constitution that need to be amended to ensure the smooth running of the Students’ Union as well as provide the true mechanisms for effective governance at the Students’ Union level.
All these changes cannot be effected without a change in our current constitution. And this change, if we must follow the law, has a process and that process must be approved by the School Senate.
COUNTING OF ELECTION RESULTS AT THE VARIOUS HALLS OF RESIDENCE
The use of gadgets should be allowed, being in the information technology age, in order to discourage electoral malpractices.Even a sitting president allowed a free, fair and credible election in Nigeria. There should be returning officers; the result of votes cast should be announced in every halls of residence.
We should proffer pragmatic solutions to our social and national issues that demand attention on the basis of high intellectualism to position or reposition our union to a level of national contribution and awareness of the basic tenets of a democratic process.
The Deputy Registrar (students) should only observe, in order to prevent the interference of the university management in the democratic process of students’ independent rights to govern themselves.
WELFARE OF THE STUDENTS
There is no how we can address this level of consciousness without making reference to the death of Comrade Mayowa Alaran. Directly or indirectly, Mayowa’s death has given us a new meaning to our existence. His death has woken us to face the reality that students’ welfare on campus is but a myth, or more appropriately, a joke that no one cares to laugh about. It was agreed that Mayowa death was as a result of Jaja Health workers’ negligence.
However, it is disheartening that the school management called a press conference few days ago to state otherwise. Now, let’s assume, the boy had actually died before getting to the University Health Centre, the school is yet to explain the negligence of their drivers whom it took more than 30 minutes to start the engine of one of the three ambulance buses.
Before now, we used to have a health post system in Independence hall of residence, where nurses were attached to attend to cases of emergency. Overtime, this arrangement was dropped. Attempts to bring it back to‘Indy’ has been recurrently abortive.
We need more than the Vice Chancellor’s rhetorical prowess to redeem the challenges we are all facing. We need something more tangible than a weightless promise that our health system should be improved. We have made a demand that at least 3 ambulance buses/health posts should be provided, in order to cater for emergency around the Halls of residence; one at the main school area, one to man Idia/Awo axis and the last one to cater for Indy/Zik constituency. We have demanded that these ambulances should be on standby 24 hours daily.
You might be thinking of what that has to do with the election? Of course, it has got everything to do with it. Past administrations have been grumbling about this issue, but the school seems not to listen to them. Presently, the leadership of the Union is quite shaky, owing to the suspension of some officials and the current medical status of the president; it is too weak to demand for anything. We held a congress, the Dean of students said it was an illegal arrangement; the resolutions were upturned with just “a pen strike”.
We have to face the reality that the school is not ready to listen to us and as such, we need a new leadership and a new approach to get them to listen to our demands. We have the inspiration to do things differently; all aspirants signed a letter to put on hold the Students’ Union electoral process till the aforementioned demands are met.
In conclusion, we are happy that the school management has promised to convene the Welfare Board on Wednesday 20 May, 2015, to look into our demands. Also, members of the Students’ Representative Council are already working on the Constitutional Amendment.
The Dean of Students informed us that the school senate will be meeting this coming Friday and we do hope that the Senate will agree to our demands.
At this juncture, we will like to inform all students to disregard any rumour that the election has been postponed indefinitely; the election has only been postponed till all these issues are looked into and we are rest assured that all the issues will be resolved as soon as possible.
We hereby urge students to be patient and participatory in the ongoing struggle.
This struggle is not only for the UISU but for NANS.
VICE CHAIRMAN, NANS JCC, OYO STATE