SU Election: Politics Of Puppetry Or Popularity?

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I know a handful of students who would swear by their grandmothers’ graves that the school management interfered in the last SU election. I find their points valid because prior to the election day, there were speculations that Hessy, a candidate vying for the post of the president, was the favourite to win the election. So, you can begin to imagine the explosive shock on the faces of these speculation-mongers when Akeju was declared winner at the poll. These critics raised a series of reasons why Akeju’s win was questionable. One said that the school management needed someone they could control. So, they saw in Akeju’s prospective law career, a vantage point to cling on to. The other said that Hessy is a “Confam big boy” and doesn’t need to rely on his degree and that such a person with such leaning has nothing to lose were he to “cause wahala” and get rusticated like his predecessor, Ojo Aderemi. That in fact, such gracious publicity would do more good than harm to cementing his celebrity status. The last speculation-monger almost grabbed me by the neck after a serious debate ensued to preach me that the school management needed a doormat, someone who can be like “water”. Yes, you guessed right, “wey no get enemy” as the student union representative.

Whether or not these are claims are true, I can’t tell. But one thing I know is that I can’t put my nails on the line to vouch for their authenticity, let alone my fingers.

Fast forward now, it is now another season of “madness” as we have seen a number of verbal missiles flying around, rumours brewing, speculations mongering, swift blows exchanging and if you might like to add, “conspiracy-theory-theorizing”. These past few days, to the best of my knowledge, have been rather hellish. That I think it appropriate that after this phase, the school management should run a check up on the mental health of our politicians (or politrickcians if you like) because these times are apt to leave the strongest lungs out of breath.

So, while I’m still trying to adjust to the bombardment of noise-cancelling “Skabulas and Ogbunigwes” flying around in this war zone. One bomb caught me unprovoked yesterday. It reads: “Don’t Influence UI Students’ Union Election Because of 2023 — Stakeholder Cautions Makinde’s Aide, Victor Olejede” published in the trailblaizersnew.com. This is just one of the many flying around. In fact, one I-no-fit-lie-give-you source claimed that the school management will yet again demonstrate to students that “they are nothing but pencils in the hands of the creator”. With the little skill my brain has for thinking, what this claim probably means is that it is likely that the more popular candidate may not win the election. In other words, the people’s choice may be sacrificed on the altar of the school management’s choice. But we can’t possibly tell the management’s choice. But we could infer is that the school management wouldn’t want a hot-blooded fellow who would kick against their policies. The soon-to-be 73-year old institution is perhaps too fragile to take criticism, too old to be schooled on what is right or wrong, especially by the student body. Instead they would rather do the schooling. After all, “what do they even know?”

Even while I was drafting this “hogwash”, a fellow suggested that I don’t use my regular pen name so as not to give the “fess and bess” an opening to commit a second crime against journalism. You know our public institutions are quite notorious for silencing dissenters. Do your research—it is tough luck to be right when your government is wrong. And this makes it absurd as wonder as to the “why are they training us?” or even the “what are they training us to be?”. To be silent in the face of injustice? To swallow whatever pill that is shoved down our throats without questioning?

Even a deaf could hear the thunder of ASUU strikes whenever the Federal government breach their agreement with the Union. Our “school parents” deem it fit to honourably protest against such injustice by embarking on strikes after strikes, yet draw the line when students protest peacefully against what we are not comfortable with. Quite obscene if you ask me. But that’s a topic for another day.

Now let’s go back to the election. I have once registered my displeasure in an article or two at the “pettiness” on which political aspirants are supported, even endorsed. Right before the ban on electoral activities was lifted, students already endorsed their “choice” even before we could hear other candidates. You are likely to hear “so and so” shout at the top of their lungs: “This is who we should follow. Vote “so and so”. He/she is the “best man” for the job. We should all follow him”

There is little or no room for listening to the other side. Everyone seems to be enthusiastic about spoon-feeding us their candidates. So, I ask: has the goal of election not been defeated if we are to support candidates prior to knowing their plans? This happened in 2015 or so when Buhari came on with his “change” mantra. It happened that we were too lazy to ask: “What sort of change do you mean sir?”

But what’s done is done. All I’m trying to say is: If we are to support candidates prior to proper vetting of their plans to know which has better plans, is it any different from saying to someone “we want you to lead us. We don’t want to listen to other candidates for we know you will have the best plans. We will go like sheep wherever you, our shepherd, wish to lead us to. Come and lead us”

Clearly, this x-rays the attitudes of our supposed “leaders of tomorrow” who care little or nothing about the election of qualified hands who would oversee the affairs of their union. If students are indifferent about who represent their interests in the school administration, unbothered by the qualifications of those who relay their pressing needs to the school management. How then can they be bothered by the elections of capable hands and minds that would govern our dear nation? It is utterly disgusting that some who do well to vote are misguided and do not have credible and tangible reasons for pitching their loyalty to any particular candidate. 

I have wondered; “If results of elections could be decided this way in a centre of learning, what would happen outside the four walls of this intellectual environment? How would elections be decided out there – in slums, markets, villages, etc. where most of their inhabitants are bereft of a sound formal education? Or has the four walls of the university, known too many to be the height of knowledge, turned a beehive of uncouth minds? To what pitch of degradation are we come?

It is at this juncture that I make a plea to all students not to key in to the politics of favouritism and come out en masse to vote in candidates who have objectively proven to be worthy of the political offices they vie for, as this is what separates intellectuals from those bereft of sound learning. My plea also goes to stakeholders who, in one way or the other, desire to influence the election for vested interests. Please desist from such. And the final plea goes to the school management who should be non-partisan and unbiased enough to give us leaders chosen by the people as we know what we want and who is best for us.

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