In view of the recent crises bedeviling the Association of the Faculty of Arts Students (AFAS), AFAS Press crew met with two of the prominent figures in the crises in order to dig deep into the reasons for the disagreement and the consequences of the conflicts so far. Here, LAWAL KOLAPO, The General Secretary of AFAS explains his own side of the saga. Excerpts…
Can we meet you?
I am Lawal Kolapo from the Department of linguistics; I am the General Secretary of AFAS. I am from Independence Hall, my dad is a trader and my mum is also a trader. I am also the CEO of Lawk graphics.
What can you say about the state of the Faculty?
The Faculty is not bad and AFASites too are not doing badly. It is just unfortunate that the last 100 level results are not so good.
Has it been easy managing this office with your academics?
Well, it is like I am combining three things. It has not been easy combining three things together, sometimes I get to my room 12am, 1am and aside from all I do, I am still the Secretary of Stakeholders Committee at Independence Hall. So after the hectic work here, I still go to Independence Hall for another meeting. But I thank God because so far, he has been helping me.
What can you say about the reactions of your executives when they are called for meetings?
The executives are fine, the only person I had problem with at the beginning was my Assistant General Secretary but at some point I had to call her and make her realise why she was voted in. After that, she changed and she has been doing well. They are doing well but it is just that some of them don’t realise why they were elected yet. For instance, the issue of the President that was suspended, it is so painful and some people are still thinking that I am the one who instigated his suspension but I am not the one. What actually happened is that we went on excursion and at the excursion, some things happened which should not have taken place. The food was not up to standard, the transport too. It is like when Mr. President was making his findings, he was not specific with those people. He didn’t tell them specifically that this is what we want and this is the amount we can pay for it. You know there is a difference between telling someone what you want and the person giving you the price and you negotiating. That was the mistake the President made and it led to some commotion. Another thing is that when we were coming, we left some people behind, and according to the authorities, it is an impeachable offence. Also, Mr. President made mistake of being in the Tech bus when majority of AFASites were in another bus. I can remember well that the Tech President stayed in the same bus with Tech students but Mr. President decided to stay in the Tech bus. Also when we came back, there was this issue of registration which myself and him went to the Dean of Students and we were told that we need to pay ₦2000 and they gave us payment advice but I didn’t know when he collected money. People that were not at the sitting will say I instigated the suspension, not knowing that the President has collected money two times for registering the Association at the Students’ Affairs level. All these things led to his suspension. A lot of things happened that people didn’t see. I am not happy about it that my President was suspended but it is necessary for us to make the wrong right. If we see something that is not good, we should try to make it better. I realise that during the sitting, it was not as if they were not saying the truth but they were not saying all. Yoruba will say” Eyan fi oro sabe awon so” that is not good if we want to solve issues. I can remember that during the recess, I told the Honourables that if saying the truth will warrant suspension or impeachment for all the executives, they should say the truth and let the CPS take over the administration. But at the end of the day, instead of doing that, I think the House deem it fit that the right and the best option was to suspend the President because of the points I stated earlier. I can remember that the Social Director during Emeka’s tenure was suspended for misappropriating ₦5000. The House deems it fit that he should be suspended instead of being impeached. I am not saying I am happy about it but the truth is if I did the same, I will be punished too. Also, he said he went for the excursion pre-visit alone which is not supposed to be, he should have gone with some of the executive members. Even at some point when we were planning excursion, some Faculties pulled out saying that the president isn’t straight forward. I can remember there was a time we had a meeting with the Dean, he said it categorically that if it was Adeoye’s signature that was on the letter we sent to him, he wouldn’t have granted us the meeting. All these things led to his suspension. A lot of things happened but I really want to clear the air to say, I, Lawal Kolapo is not responsible and did not instigate the suspension of the President.
Did you foresee the failure of the excursion?
I wouldn’t say I did but the truth of the matter which I must say is that from the onset, I was not seriously happy about the excursion because when they started the whole thing, it was supposed to be Faculty of Arts excursion and I was on my floor in the hostel when I saw someone’s display picture and the person was asking me about SALT. As the General Secretary of AFAS, I just had to play along with the person and I told him the excursion will be fine. The second day or third, I saw the President and I ask him why he planned excursion and didn’t carry us along, he said that some decisions couldn’t wait. He saw the Tech President while he was walking and also the Science President and they discovered that a combo will be good. I then asked him why he couldn’t call members of the executive council so we all can know what is going on. He said we were not all available and he gave the excuse of writing exams but I believe that as a leader sacrifices must be made. If he had called us and we didn’t pick, we would call him back, he should have sampled our opinion but I wouldn’t know why he went ahead.
During the planning process, did you foresee failure?
Where I can say he got it wrong was when he was giving the contract to people. I told him that you know I don’t support this whole idea but we have to see the people that will handle things, we need to sit them down and tell them what we want. I told him that as a Council, we should see them, tell them what we want and negotiate with them because I believe in clear contract. He didn’t bring those people and from that point, I began to wonder how we will work with people we do not know. Some days to the excursion, they wanted to approve money. I told him that if we all are saying we don’t want things to spoil or get out of hand, it is on the platform of things not getting spoilt that I would sign the budget. I decided to sign the budget but when I did and we had meeting with some of these presidents, I felt the whole thing has crashed. There was a time I wanted to release a press statement that as far as I am concern, I do not have anything to do with SALT which I know would have crashed the whole thing. When we had a meeting, the Honourables were even there and when we asked how many people had paid in their faculties, trust me, they weren’t able to produce a substantial number, AFASites were more than they were and I asked them why we could not ask these people to pull out and we have just AFAS excursion so that accommodation and feeding will be enough for AFASites considering the fact that we already made a budget for AFASites which would be enough but he said we started with them. I told him since we started with them, why didn’t you inform them about the things we did? And why are we the only ones doing the overnight work?
Opinion out there is that you already knew the excursion will be a failure but you wanted it to hold so that you will hold a very cheap political score?
No, that is not my point! The point where I wasn’t happy is that he didn’t tell us about the whole SALT agenda, he didn’t bring people who were in charge of one thing or the other. I called some stakeholders and I told them my stance but they said with the situation of things, it will still work and for the sake of moving forward, I should try as much as possible to believe in the excursion. It is not as if I saw failure and didn’t talk, the only thing was that the President didn’t involve us from the onset.
Do you think it is justifiable that Adeoye was suspended?
Yes, though I am not happy about it.
It was reported that you and the President spent ₦50,000 which is meant for the Art Festival.
No, because during the excursion when it seemed things were getting out of hands, I had to call an emergency executive meeting and I ask the Financial Secretary how much was generated for the excursion, she stated it and we did some calculations and we cleared the air. Nothing for the Art Festival was spent on the excursion.
Will the Art Festival still hold?
I can’t say.
So if the money hasn’t been diverted, why did you say it wouldn’t hold?
₦50,000 can’t do Art Festival; the budget of the Festival is over ₦5,000,000. The ₦50,000 is just for logistics and printing of letters.
Can you rate your tenure on a scale of ten based on what you have done so far?
You rated the tenure six despite the fact that some conventional programmes are yet to hold, for instance, AFAS and I is yet to hold.
For the AFAS and I programme, there is no stipulated time for it to hold, it can hold first or second semester. For us, we have decided to hold it in second semester and it is holding October 5.
You said you were being threatened, who are those threatening you?
I don’t know. I got some phone calls and that is why I wanted to give a press release that I didn’t instigate Adeoye’s suspension. I got some phone calls while I was in my room from people telling me that if I have anything against Skelemba, I should bury it, that he is not someone I can fuck with and anything can happen. I was here at the Faculty and a lady called me, I thought it was an AFASite, she dragged me somewhere and said “any beef you have with Adeoye go and bury it because he is not someone you can fuck with, I am a lady but don’t underestimate me, I can do anything ” I was even surprised . I was wondering if there is anything Adeoye thinks I know and he doesn’t want people to know. Even after the sitting, one of his friends did the same.