THE REINSTATEMENT OF THE STUDENTS’ UNION: OF ERAMUS SERVIENTES OR LIBERTAS

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Just about few days to the end of the month of August, the long-awaited revival of the apex body of students that have been subjected to a state of proscription was reinstated by the same constituted authorities that did ab-initio. All hearts seem to be full of joy and lips filled with laughter at the breaking of the news. This newfound joy stemming from the restoration of the students’ grand voice was so prominent and loud that students did not hesitate to engage the social media in their celebration. To many, the management has not only tempered justice with mercy but was also magnanimous to announce the election to elect new union officers in just nine weeks’ after the reinstatement.

Albeit, there were speculations that the Union is returning likely as a toothless bulldog or that the soon-to-be union officers will be acting a scripted drama by the management. However, students interested in occupying the Kunle Adepeju building have not in any way allowed such rumors hold them back. From the look of how the awareness broadcasts have been suffocating WhatsApp groups and statuses, it is like students have been pre-informed of when the ban on union activities on campus will be lifted. For the sake of clarity, the writer is not opposed to students having aspirations, but the caliber of aspirants aspiring may want to kowtow the paths of their stripped-of-title predecessors.

Just as usual, all are allowed to create awareness about their aspiration, though only a handful will make it to the day of the poll if they didn’t chicken out of the race or become disallowed from continuing as a result of not being endorsed by their faculty or hall of residence. Albeit, Baluba kingdom had more than one aspirant gunning for the same position and had to subject them to endorsement process which later suffered post-endorsement tantrum by one of the less favored aspirant.  The most interesting part is that the race for this year’s union presidency is gender-balanced. Irrespective of what happens at the poll or whoever emerges, one must not fail to bring to the aspirants’ knowledge some things to note and ponder on so as not to repeat same old mistakes.

To start with, for every (and any) aluta to be successful, the choice of strategies to be employed must be carefully and intelligently chosen. This is because; the last aluta that led to the proscription of the union was as a result of adoption of wrong strategies and failure to know when to compromise which plunged the union and students into tragedies. In the literary work titled, The Art of War, Sun Tzu stated that “hence, to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” The situation may not have exacerbated if only the right strategies were used. Unionists need to know that it’s not all battles fought that they would conquer and when it appears force is not yielding anticipated results, resorting to dialogue is not a show of cowardice. Sometimes, victoria can be ascerta in the absence of continua aluta.

Undoubtedly, the basis of the struggle and demands (then) were germane and pivotal to students’ welfare on campus, yet so many are of the opinion that the infamous speech delivered by the suspended union president on his inglorious inauguration day at the Trenchard hall was provocative, insensitive and confrontational, considering the choice of words and manner of articulation. One must not in the course of projecting him/herself lose him/herself. Leaders must not forget to remember that the figures after six are way bigger and more than seven. None should be blindfolded or misled by the encomium showered.

Again, to the many lots aspiring to be elected now that the Union has been reinstated, the writer wishes to bring to fore that wisdom is the principal thing and in all getting, getting wisdom and understanding is tantamount, sacrosanct and paramount to political offices. Many a one only cares about their meeting of requirements to contest and the inclusion of the certificate of office held in their credentials when running for office.  Only a handful care about having the in-depth potentials to handle, manage and deal with the challenges that accompany the position they hold. Such was the case of the suspended union officers as noted by Onifade that “some of them in the ‘Patriotic Intelligentsia’s group were either patriotic but not intelligent or intelligent but not patriotic; except a few.”

Howbeit, the university portrays itself as preparing the students for the future, it has, at any slight chance, shown that it is hell-bent on preparing the future for the students in terms of the restrictions placed on freedom of expression of students on campus. While no one dares to put any chunk of the blame on the management for their partial failure to impact on students the qualities required of a leader on large scale either through classroom teaching or seminar, yet, many students, graduates and undergraduates, are fond of taking turn on social media to vent out their frustration using mendacious, derogatory and malicious comments.

In time past, the acrid vituperations on the personality of the Vice-Chancellor by some students under the guise of protest and demanding for their rights and privileges is appalling and obnoxious and so persistent to the extent that the integrity of persona is at the brim of besmirch and the persona is forced to refer to the students whom he is in parentis loco with as contumacious children due to their lack of respect and manners.

In drawing the curtain, it should be remembered that despite the long unprecedented closure of the school, several truncations and disruptions of the academic calendar, physical, emotional and psychological trauma students were subjected to during the period of the imbroglio, not a single one out of the demands were met until there was an intercession and clear sign that the Union had been defeated. This is to unequivocally warn students that before they (union officers) consider having an argument with their boss (management), a good look at both sides — management side and students’ side — is advisable: this will prevent trying to outshine one’s master.

With the reinstatement of the union either on the grounds to put students in eramus servientes or libertas, and that elections will be held sooner than later, whoever it is that emerged as president of the students’ union should, for the time being, use the surrender tactic. Little or no power can and/or should be wielded. Enough time is needed to work things out and transform weakness to power. All winners should observe the 22nd law of Robert Greene’s Laws of Power that says “when you are weaker, don’t fight for honor’s sake; choose surrender instead. Surrender gives you time to recover. Don’t give him the satisfaction of fighting and defeating you — surrender first.” This is one mistake the incoming administration should not repeat.

OLUWATOYIN Betterdays is a 400 level student of the department of Arts and Social Sciences Education in the Faculty of Education, University of Ibadan. He is a writer and student journalist and can be reached via +2347010124528.

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