In this interview, Mr. Oladokun Oluwasegun, the Immediate past President of the All-Nigeria Nations Students’ and Youth Association (ANUNSA), University of Ibadan talks about ANUNSA UI- what they stand for and what they have been able to do in and out of the University. Also, being an active student leader, he shares his opinion as regarding the recent suspension of some Students’ Union leaders.
Good evening sir. Can we meet you?
I am Oluwasegun Oladokun, the Immediate Past President of ANUNSA, UI.
Can you tell us about ANUNSA?
ANUNSA is a student and Youth association, established in 1948 at the University of Ibadan. Its main objective is about propagating the ideals and principles of the United Nations. ANUNSA is an organisation that is concerned about helping youths develop their full potentials in the area of leadership, diplomacy, entrepreneurship, and all round development. Our major focus is also in ensuring peace in the world.
How far has the organisation, ANUNSA, been able to perform their roles/goals within the University?
The organisation has been up and doing in the discharge of its objectives. It has trained people in the areas of diplomacy, leadership and global citizenship over years. As an organization, we have people who are doing fine in civic leadership, NGOs, public and private sector, academic. Some are with international organizations like the UN and it’s agencies.
How effective has the organisation been?
The association has also undergone several projects on campus, tree planting, language programmes, training in global citizenship, skills acquisition, and several SDGs advocacy. ANUNSA as an organisation clocked 60 years in 2018. It has been very effective. And this can be traced to the wonderful relationship it enjoys with the United Nations Information Centre in Lagos. The Centre has been of great assistance in the discharge of our duties and objectives.
How well is the organisation known among students of the University of Ibadan and is it restricted to only students of the University?
The organisation is well known among students. It is not restricted to students alone. Upon graduation, members move to the youth wing. We have people who are honorary members as well.
What are the qualifications for membership?
Hmmm! Actually there is no membership criterion per say. However, for one to be a member of ANUNSA, UI, One must be a student. Also, one must be ready for commitment, be ready to contribute his or her quota to the development of ANUNSA and be ready to grow.
Your administration may be regarded as one of the remarkable ones within the university. What was your major source of inspiration and what were your major achievements and goals?
Hmmm! Glad to know that. The major source of inspiration is the need to deliver. I am not one of those who occupy positions for the sake of it. I believe leadership positions come with responsibilities, therefore I have to deliver. Our goals are in line with the 17 SDGs of the United Nations. We went to different secondary schoola on SDGs advocacy. Also in October 2018 we were at Bodija Market for breast cancer awareness. This made us to be part of the UI women society cancer programme. The President was well recognised and the effort of ANUNSA, UI appreciated. And also in January this year, ANUNSA, UI held a political conference which was aimed at sensitising people not to sell their votes. Many dignitaries were in attendance. The INEC OYO REC was the keynote speaker. The chairman of the conference was our father, Ambassador (Dr) Yemi Farounbi. The conference had in attendance the Iyaloja of Ibadan, Iyaloja and Babaloja of Bodija Market, Mrs Bolanle Sarumi, Mr Akin Laosun, Mr Sanyaolu Akande and many other dignitaries. We were also involved in personal development of the youths.
Can you brief us on the strategies you took which made your administration different from the previous ones?
Previous administrations were able to achieve their goals as well. They set the pace which we followed. I am a diplomatic person, even in the area where people expect me to use force, diplomacy works for me. ANUNSA has also done some physical projects such as tree planting and beautification on campus over years. About 10 years ago, members of the association toured all countries in West Africa without cost. This was made possible by the support from United Nations Information Centre, Lagos and embassies of those countries.
Also in June, 2018 we partnered with Kingsley Moghalu Initiative to host a conference which was aimed at encouraging youth participation in politics. The theme was ‘Active Citizenship for Leadership’ and the event was held at the Large Lecture Theatre of the Faculty of The Social Sciences. It has been blessed with good hands over years as well who ensure its effectiveness.
Yes. I am a politician cum leader. It was a plus for me.
What other leadership position did you occupy within the University?
I was a working student, I was working from my 100L-300L but spared my 400L to focus on my project and other engagements. So, I didn’t get to involve myself so much. However, I was a member of the UISU SRC 6th Assembly, where I served as the Chairman of the press and Information Committee. I also was involved with the dinner committee of Sultan Bello Hall in 2018. I served in various committees within the hall as well. I was also involved in planning several projects in the area of leadership and entrepreneurship on campus, project 234, Hult Prize, and so on.
With regards to the recent judgement of the students’ union, what is your opinion?
It is a pity that the university management is becoming intolerant to students approach. However, it is important also to encourage students’ leaders to reconsider their approach and be tactical in achieving tangible results.
What would consider to be the most feasible and reliable approach towards issues of great importance?
Student leaders have to have deep understanding of diplomacy. Everything cannot be achieved by force.
Does that mean the students’ leaders were wrong in their approach to the issue?
Not at all. They took the best approach they felt they should take. However meaning that it was the best was not a sure stuff that it would work.
What would you have recommended if you were asked for advice?
I feel there is need to understand that most right things that are obtainable elsewhere in the world are not the same here. We should try as much as possible to understand the setting in which we operate and do things differently. I would like to give the same advice given by the keynote speaker at UCJ 30th Anniversary in 2017. When you want to get something from an elder in Africa, you don’t demand, you request.
While we should not entrust our rights in the hands of oppressors, it won’t be good either to lose our rights to oppressors. What is also important is that students’ leaders should know that they are not leaders of themselves but students. Therefore, they should try as much as possible to have an understanding of the psychology of those they lead. It is better most times to fight with people than fight for people. Sometimes, people you think you are fighting for are comfortable with the status quo. No one man can fight alone.
What is the solution to the silent and cold discord between the students and the University management?
The same problem with leadership in Nigeria. The leaders see no reason in consulting with the people in anything they do. The university management should see students as collaborators rather than antagonists. They have got to understand that students are the major stakeholder in the university. The students should be tactical in their approach and relationship with the management as well. I know of a current hall chairman who gets whatever is right for his people just because he was able to build a good relationship with his hall management.
Any concluding words of advice to students?
In Africa, if you want to be respected, you have to give respect. ‘Respect is reciprocal’, they say. Students should respect the management and the management should reciprocate the same, though we are their children. The university is more than a place to earn a degree, we should all strive to maximize the available resources and relationships for personal development by attending conferences or seminars of interest, occupying leadership positions, work on projects, start or grow a business and build inter personal relationships.
It is shocking that some do not still know how to get along well with other people even after four or five years in the university. Our years on campus should be well utilised in building both hard and soft skills. We must understand that it is skill that adds value to certificate. Certificate is just a paper!
I would like to appeal to the university management to reconsider the judgment and tamper justice with mercy.
By Adedolapo Faith, for UCJ UI