One dark night, a friend of mine came to complain to me about the irrationality of some supporters of SU aspirants. He vehemently ventilated that some students were against his favorite candidate who he said is more popular. He said some of them even went ahead to drill holes on his favourite candidate’s banner that was placed at strategic locations on campus. Hardly had I responded when another friend tipped that these acts were normal since violence has over time been associated with politics. He chips in that at least, aspirants have not gone on a spiritual war against one another.
To be candid, defaming other candidates just to claim victory in an election is no great feat. But of course, we are in a society where everything counts especially in relation to politics. It is no longer news that political aspirants develop bad blood against one another which often lead to intense antagonism, damaging the campaign materials of one’s opponents and many more. I was shocked when I heard from a friend who said he would do whatever it takes to win an election even to the extent of manipulating the elections’ result. Pathetic though, but we are faced with this sad reality.
If students-politicians are already damaging each other banners and other campaign materials, publishing wrong information against one another, then we have to ask ourselves, what kind of governance would be in operation by these leaders? Most people would opine that there are no saints whatsoever in the Nigerian political system whether major or minor, so one need not be blindfolded by the illusion that there are good politicians. Shall we then accept this opinion and conclude that anytime there is an election, we know already that violence would take place?
I have read messages on a person’s reputation being tarnished during an election but, I was quite surprised that the name whose image was tarnished, or was about to be tarnished was not in any way moved. In fact, he did not address the allegations. But few days after he lost the election, he then opened up that he had counted the allegations levied against him as “mere political propaganda” but this was after the election.
It’s quite ironic that one who fights for true democracy or rather, better governance chooses to acknowledge that one can tarnish another person’s image just to win an election. That’s not even the problem; the problem is that election that emanates from such is labelled “mere political propaganda”. Would this bring better governance?
Constantly, we are caught in this sad reality which has pervaded our stratosphere and thereby, showcasing itself in the University of Ibadan. However, there is this cliché that “if it from Ibadan, it must as of necessity be the best.” Although politics is a wide term, UI-SU politics should act in tandem with the above saying. However, every political activity seems to follow the regular pattern of the Nigerian politics: “defame to win,” “render your opponents incapacitated to win,” “surprise and attack,” “after winning the election, expect your opponents to wage a continuous war with you,” “be ruthless to your opponents” and many more.
For two years, the Union was proscribed for a protest clamoring for students’ right and it had in attendance about three thousand or more students. Many students, as well as social critics, vehemently rejected the proscription. They said it would incommode students’ rights. For these two years, students held one another in solidarity with fervid optimism that all would be well and the Students’ Union would be reinstated. Now our hope has come to pass, and we would be going to polls soon. But then, solidarity is beginning to shake, in less than two months, students have begun showing negative attitude towards one another with statements like, “you either support my candidate or be in danger,” all in the name of politics. If this continues, I fear that this Union of ours would be proscribed again.
Departments, faculties, halls of residence, stakeholders’ associations as well as religious bodies have been pulling weight behind their candidates. This is quite understandable as it is part of the tenets of democracy: majority would surely carry the vote. But then, I am more concerned about the credibility of these endorsements. Everyone just wants to support their candidates to win elections, but they are less concerned about the integrity or otherwise of these candidates. They seem to only care about prestige like, “how should it be heard that we failed to support our very own,” an attitude similar to the Yoruba lingo that says; omo wa ni, amaa gbaruku ti— he is our very own, we’ll throw our support for him.
Even at that, we need to make a U-Turn in students-politics. It is known that to win elections students-politicians would need to make their moves by pledging several allegiances to different individuals. So peradventure they emerge winners, they would constantly have to battle to implement policies favourable to supporters A or B or C. I heard a case of a student who works against his department’s candidate(s) during elections, but now he aspires to vie for a post at the SU level and he has been making amends for his acts which he said was in the time of ignorance. And the department’s stakeholders, who are more concerned about supporting their candidate than his integrity, accepted him and forgave him for he knew not what he was doing.
It is always said that the quest for true democracy may never see the light in Nigeria because the political situation in the country is contaminated. And more so, it is unfortunate that this political contamination has affected our grassroots’, therefore the political situation at the federal level is in operation at the grassroot level. If a nation is to develop for better, changes need to commence from the grassroot level, but when the grassroot level is filled with contamination, how then would the nation improve? Similarly, if any nation is to change for the best, the system of governance in operation has to be efficient and effective but if otherwise, all hope for a better country may forever be an illusion.
I therefore advise the UI-SU aspirants: bitter politics or rather dirty politics should not find its way in the University of Ibadan. Going for political posts should be borne out of the need to serve and not for mere records or the desire for instant fame. Democracy should be true. Elections should be free and fair. If your opponents have better plans than you do, rather than defaming them or creating barriers against their political voyage, the best you can do is to rally round and support them. This, in fact, is democracy! Also, that you lost an election does not signify the end of your political sojourn because success is in fact a sum of repeated failures. So shun the whims and caprices that characterize national politics. And if we are all advocates of change, then let the change begin now!