By Jubril Olalekan
Politics is unarguably ubiquitous – it is everywhere. We find it in the government, in church, in mosque, schools, at home, in the ways we relate with others and even in our decision making. Politics is germane and critical to the human existence. It is that ‘necessary evil’ with which we have been accursed, either for the realisation of a good end or the other. We engage in politics in one way or the other either consciously or unconsciously – it is unavoidable. In fact, there is no such thing as ‘I do not do politics’ as some would say; for even the decision not to participate in politics itself is political. So far as we can not separate ourselves from other humans or live in solitude, then it is impossible for us to abstain from politics. As such, in the University, being a community of informed humans, politics is therefore sacrosanct.
Politics in the higher institution is an integral part of studentship. You get exposed to some political propaganda and trickery deployed by the major actors in the government to secure people’s vote at all cost. The most common of these trickeries is the sudden brotherhood gesture you begin to get from these aspirants – you would think they have known you for decades – or perhaps from Adam. Anyways, that is just politics for you – it is one of those gimmicks.
Students politics on campus takes place at different levels; there is the Student Union politics, the faculty politics and the departmental politics. However, for the sake of this article, I would like to focus on departmental or intra-departmental politics.
We all know that despite the fact that intra-departmental politics is interesting in the areas of bringing people together and the competitiveness, there are some other underlying features that characterise it, making it somewhat vile and abysmal; the unvoiced enmity, the heated rivalry, the bottled-up toxicity and the stomached anger that flows from one level to the other, are some of the ungodly camaraderie of intra-departmental politics. Even though it is politics amongst students from the same department, it still does not excuse all of these. While many seem ignorant of this intra-departmental bad blood, it is conspicuous to the observants. And I am particular about those ignorant ones in this article, so you do not get into a likely life-long trouble through ignorance.
Recently, I have began to see flyers and different graphics of some aspirants vying for one position or the other and this sight erupted some feelings of nostalgia in me. Election period is drawing nearer, I said to myself. And in retrospect, I remembered the experience and the drama that accompany the election period, most especially if one of the candidates vying for any of these posts is from your level; the presidential candidate, vice president and the Gen. Sec.; you might just want to thread carefully – just a candid advise. The fake smiles, the ear-itching gossips, the deceitful whispers and the beer-hugs constitutes major untold tales of intra-departmental political rivalry. The toxicity is overwhelming, at least to those who have witnessed and experienced it like myself.
However, I have come to realize that the 100level, 400l and 600level students are somehow not active participants in this political drama and power tussle. The 100level students are freshmen and newbies who are still unacclimated with the departmental political system, as such, they have lesser portfolio to handle–they have just the position of Ass. Gen. Sec. available to their levels. The 400level and 600level students on the other hand are final year students who are busy with their final year project and by implication they have less time to devote to intra-departmental politics. The gladiatorial participants or the main political actors in this category however are the 200level and the 300l students. They are always at lock-horns. The 300level students would want to prove that they have stayed longer in the system and so they deserve more seats in the election. They are usually bent on establishing their dominance. The 200level students on the other hand would not want to concede, they would also want to prove that they are no longer newbies or some kind of inconsequential freshmen – to establish the fact that they also are forces to be reckoned with. Hence, the hell is unleashed between these two levels – a full-fledged hell!
The whole political dramatic displays and faceoffs make the election period pretty exciting, of course. However, there is a need for us as students to be careful, individually, most especially the ignoramuses amongst us. While we are playing our politics, while we are throwing bants and shades, making some wild comments subconsciously in the spirit of the political-moment just to give our candidates upper edge at the election and discredit the others, we must be wary of our actions, comments and engagements so we do not eventually step on wrong toes.
I know we are all students, well, that is all we know about ourselves, literally. We do not know who-is-who: you do not know what the person you are exchanging words with is capable of, you do not know how forgiving or unforgiving he or she is. Maybe he is the vindictive type who even after five or six years would still want to get back at you just because of what you did or said during some long-gone intra-departmental election. Therefore, when you act – act wisely, and when you speak – speak with understanding. To those who were ignorant of this fact I believe by now you know better. Wisdom – they say – is profitable in all things.