UISU: We all are involved…

This may bore you. No sooner will you commence the trudging through the piece than you’ll ask: summary, please! Achebe would have come in handy here. He says, “a writer need never offer excuses for writing.” Nevertheless, just for you I’ll say, summarily, we have all failed our union.

The event, and especially its outcomes, of last week in the sitting of the Students’ Representative Council of the Union, came with a ricocheting bang. For the discerning, it should itch and irritate our skins. Three primal cornerstones of the Students’ Union executive were hauled of their seats. The President, his Vice, and the General Secretary have been suspended. They were suspended for some alleged misbehavior that was unbecoming of any leader, let alone, leaders of students’ union of the University of Ibadan. We often join others in freighting insults and barbs to the bad leaders in town; but what differentiate theirs from student leaders who misappropriate funds; who are lost to ‘their positions’ and therefore become snugly unconcerned to the effects of their inactivity on their followers; who are caught in the act of cheating( in any form)? Soon, time will do its magic, and we will find ourselves manning the various outposts in town; the question is, is Nigeria not crying soon over the brazenly cheating crop of leaders that is emerging? Time waits.

Unsurprisingly, various reactions have trailed and are still trailing the triple suspensions. I’ve been able to segment commentators on political issues into three groups: the hailers, the wailers, and the moderate. The hailers, obviously, are the acolytes, the friends, the bootlickers, the associates, the stooges who, one way or the other, are tied to the apron string of favours of a political leader. They are therefore obligated to defend him in spite of damning facts and in spite of themselves. They will shout themselves to hoarse in order to drown the voices of perceived antagonists even if these voices are reasonable. This trend is playing out now. It has played out before, even on our much loved Facebook page.

The wailers are like gadflies. They are irritants to a political leader. They annoy him without scruples. He fears them. The wailers could be terrifying wraiths that haunt. They are deadlier when their own leader loses. The winner will not literally sleep. They are bent to show everyone the minuscule mistakes the winning leader makes. The wailers could be incorrigibly annoying. You know them, when the leader misses a step. And when the public opinions do not favour a leader, the wailers pounce. They are many on this page.

The moderate, meanwhile, are those who are blessed with dispassionate spirits. The majority does not belong here. They sift through issues before they form opinions. They are those who bury sentiments to wake objectivity when dealing with issues of substance. There are not many in this category, unfortunately.

These three sets have manifested so often whenever issues relating to the Union have sprung up. They’ve been queuing up on their respective lines since the now famous axing, albeit temporary chopping off of the three temperamentally different heads of the premier aluta by the SRC. Now it seems the SRC is working! But how startling to think the SRC works only when it pokes fingers into the eyes of the executive! People tend to erroneously believe an organ who comes out as clean and proactive when there’s tension is the good one. Yet, it must be noted that the SRC passed a corruption-enabling budget however we want to look at it.

Had the SRC not been sloppy in its homework, the Ajimobi one million naira saga could have been avoided. A budget of a whopping fifteen million passed when the SU had a few thousand naira on the north of two million? And the vice-president was told to ‘source for the rest’ after a million naira was approved for the Su week? Foresight? Now the SRC bays its pincers because of the known one million, what if there are unknown monies collected in the name of the Union?

I am not saying the SRC should not wield its oversight wand. It should. Kudos to the Council. But I pray for an SRC whose oversight functions are carried out with diligent foresight, not as afterthoughts.

Furthermore, are people not tired of being hypocritical cry-babies whenever issues come up here? “What ifs” and “had we known” are irritating begging-the-issues rants that have become ready clichés once a political leader is perceived to be underperforming. Instead of unknotting their cerebrums for way-forwards, some people indulge in the impossible daydreaming of turning back the hand of time! The stories of the 2015/16 SU executive leaders’ emergence have been written, and history has noted that once and for all. We’ll do ourselves a lot good to think way-forwards, and not troubling ourselves with unnecessary wistfulness.

The general meeting that’s been slated for the 19th December sounds good. But it’s a misnomer. It’s not and will never be a general meeting since most students are not around. And, had all students been around, would the SRC chamber be the appropriate place of meeting? I doubt; yet I’d never be so confident to vouch for our student leaders doing the contrary.

We’ll keep failing the Union when what-matters matter only when the bad deeds have been done; when issues are hushed up until gagging benefits are not coming our ways again. We’ll continue to fail the Union when leaders only act when public pressure can no longer be contained. We have failed the Union when it is later we realize that we were zombies during electoral processes when we allowed few profiteers from the election’s results to fool us into their own selfish interests. We will yet again fail the Union if these mistakes are repeated.

Tobi Idowu

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