AFAS Press duo of Oseni Ibrahim and Martins Isaac engage the Association of Faculty of Arts Students’ President, Mr. Ojikutu Shola Gabriel to discuss some salient issues in this incisive interview. See excerpt below…
SHOLA: I am Ojikutu Shola Gabriel, a 400L student of the Department of English, Faculty of Arts. I am the President, Association of Faculty of Arts’ Students.
AFAS P: So far so lately, what has the feeling been since you became the number one student of AFAS?
SHOLA: It has been interesting and it’s been lovely as well serving AFASites. Though there have been some few technical issues. One of them, as far as I could remember was the issue of swearing-in ceremony; and another is about the trouble we have been going through to get sponsorship.
AFAS P: We will like you to be more explicit sir. Had you any issue during the swearing-in ceremony?
SHOLA: Yes. You know, the election was held en route to the end of the last session. So it was not easy getting the handing-over ceremony done, as most of the members of the last executive cabinet were finalists who needed to have their final year theses completed. So, with this, we were unable to hasten the swearing-in process.
AFAS P: Ok, the issue of the swearing-in ceremony calls to the mind that there are some members of the cabinet (the Information Director in particular) who are now serving without having been sworn-in. is that constitutional?
SHOLA: To be candid, the swearing-in is a-must-fulfilled ritual. But the truth is that the Information Director was not around on the said day. And he (the Information Director) was actually not the only executive member who was not around. But we just thought we had to fulfil the ritual on that very day in order to stop the continued elongation of the process.
AFAS P: Let’s not hide behind the needle, Mr President. The Information Director was reported to have deliberately made himself absent as a result of his oscillating disposition between AFAS executive cabinet and the Student’s Union government.
SHOLA: Thank you, Mr. Pressman. The fact that the Information Director deliberately made himself absent is above my knowledge. And that he has interest in the Students’ Union politics is not hidden to AFASites. He has of course sent broadcasts on the different social platforms to indicate this. But he has never written to me officially to that effect. And he has also emphasised on that. So, that he deliberately made himself absent from the swearing-in ceremony because of his Students’ Union political ambition may not be the truth.
AFAS P: Sir, some of your statements just underscored the fact that the Information Director is very much interested in the Students’ Union politics, in spite of his executive role in AFAS. Do you not think that such wavering attitude could inhibit him from discharging his duty to the optimal level?
SHOLA: Well, that will be for AFASites to decide in due course. According to the person in question (the Information Minister) such move, he has said, is a ‘P.R stunt’. However, to me, I believe you cannot serve two masters at a time. He definitely cannot be in AFAS and at the same time run for a political post at the Students’ Union level.
AFAS P: Now Mr. President, shall we briefly move away from the specific to the general. How, sir, has been your relationship with the members of your executive cabinet, especially as you have to manage people of and with different temperaments?
SHOLA: Our relationship has been very cordial. And the Yoruba dictum “Mo wa f’oniwa ni n je ore m’ore’ applies here. This implies the understanding of different individuals, knowing how and where individual persons can function. And that is very much required of a leader. It is very important to know individual’s strengths and weaknesses; so that together we can work together as a team to achieve a common purpose.
AFAS P: Mr. President, the session is almost four weeks old and nothing concrete has been said about the Freshers’ Welcome event. What would you say about this?
SHOLA: Concerning the Freshers’ Welcome, the truth is that, in as much as we want to have it quickly and well done, we must also understand the fact that, we must get the permissions from different authorities. And as I speak to you we have been making concerted efforts to put things in shape and have the programme executed. Barring the continuity of the lingering NASU strike, the Association will have her Freshers’ Welcome party done come by Thursday.
AFAS P: And what are the innovative ideas you intent injecting into this particular event to distinguish the present from the past?
SHOLA: Thank you. This coming Freshers’ Welcome is going to be one programme that will be intellectually robust and it will not, in anyway, be socially drab. It is going to be a balance of both. We have put in place a special programme tagged “The Face of AFAS” in which interested fresh (wo)men could upload their own photos on our different social platforms, to be voted for. And whosoever gets the highest votes will be paraded and awarded during the Fresher’s Welcome. We only pray the House (the FLC) approves all that.
AFAS P: On the academic welfare of these fresh students and considering the newly reviewed University academic curriculum, what are the plans of the executive council to better the lots of these new intakes?
SHOLA: We are working on getting somebody, a resource person, who will sensitise them about the knowledge on how to calculate their Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA). This will also be a segment of the Freshers’ Welcome.
AFAS P: Is that all you have for them on their studies?
SHOLA: Not only that. There will also be an orientation on Time Management for them on that very day. They will be informed on how to strike a balance between their academic and social lives, as students on campus. And we are also setting up an Academic Committee immediately after the Freshers’ Welcome.
AFAS P: Mr. President, there were lots of skirmishes and frictions between the two arms of the Association – the executive and the FLC- last session. What do you envisage to be the relationship between your own executive cabinet and the Hallowed Chamber?
SHOLA: What we look for is a smooth relationship between both arms of the Association, while we also do not forget that both arms are supposed to act as watchdogs on each other. And this will be directed towards the progress of the Association. So we do not envisage skirmishes. We do not want envisage war. All we want and will work towards is peace and harmony between the two arms.
AFAS P: You were seriously faulted by a member of the Faculty Legislative Council for not feeding the House with the appropriate information during your last visit to the Hallowed Chamber. Don’t you think such guilt could fester in subsequent day to rob you of your integrity among the lawmakers in particular and AFASites in general?
SHOLA: That sitting you talk about was actually an emergency meeting. It was just imperative that the meeting hold when it did. And what we brought to the House was actually not the budget, because we still need to get approval from different authorities as I have said at the start of this interview. So it was the act-quick nature of the sitting that made the presentation appeared the way it was.
AFAS P: You did a promise a tang of innovation to AFASites during the electioneering. So what are those programmes lined up for the session?
SHOLA: Thank you. We have vowed not to renege on our promise of robust intellectual activities and enchanting social events. I am also an entrepreneurship-conscious person. And we have been working with some group about free digital training, which will enable AFASites to be able to manage and get rewarded for their internet presence. But let’s stop there for now because more are still coming. In three words, our administration promises AFASites: Robust intellection, balanced social life and entrepreneurial skills.
AFAS P: Mr Shola Ojikutu, we had the AFAS Trek last week, but obviously you had a problem mobilising AFASites for the programme. What went wrong and where?
SHOLA: Thank you very much. The AFAS Trek was meant to take students around. And this was well planned. However, some students had classes and had to relax but later joined us. After that, the event was held and it was all fun.
AFAS P: Still on the AFAS Trek, there has been the talk in some quarters that a particular AFASites who now intends to succeed you shouldered the financial burden of the programme.
SHOLA: (smiles) Mr. Pressman, thank you very much. The truth is that the AFAS Trek idea was brought to us by a concerned AFASite. He brought the idea, and we liaise together. But I have not seen anybody come to me to say he will step in after me.
AFAS P: On AFAS excursion, have you any location in focus as of the moment and how did you arrive at the amount pegged for the trip?
SHOLA: Thank you very much. The very first thing we did was to ensure that we looked at the places we could go to. We will be leaving here on Thursday, the second week of the second semester and our first point of call will be the palace of the Ooni of Ife. We will pay him a visit and also feed our sights with the Oranmiyan staff. And it is going to be a three-day programme. And during the trip we will ensure we feed AFASite for a minimum of four times. So the travelling expenses, the feeding and other things are what we have considered to peg the fee as it is.
AFAS P: Some reliable sources who prefer anonymity made us know that you have been playing the second fiddle to your virile Vice-President, especially during the meeting of the executive.
SHOLA: (smiles) alright, I am the President and I need not to tell anyone. However, there are certain situations that even as the head, you need to listen to people’s opinion. She (the Vice-President) has never usurped my position. I know my functions, she knows hers too. We have been working together and everything has been fine.
AFAS P: As an apostle of justice before your position as AFAS President, it is baffling to see you allow injustice to thrive under your watch, especially with your silence on the outrageous basic due charges of some departmental presidents.
SHOLA: Thank you. But on that issue, I think there is a body, the Students’ Representative Council of the Students’ Union. And they enacted a law that no student should be made to pay anything above the minimum basic due of N2000 and that is what we charge and I know there are doing the same at the various departmental level. However, we are in the world of language where people veil certain additions with the ornament of language.
AFAS P: This is on a personal note, Mr. President you have always paraded yourself as an advocate of morality but then you now seem to be treading the path of folly with your die-hard involvement in the ponzi schemes – as a renowned Bitcoin dealer.
SHOLA: Thank you, Mr. Pressman, my good friend and colleague. The Bitcoin is a form of currency. Some have transferred it into the ponzi scheme. I have never been a subscriber to any ponzi scheme and I will never do. Truly, I have been added to some groups where people transact the Bitcoin and use it for ponzi scheme. But I, as a person, have never been a supporter or player of it because I believe in hard work and how you can use your skill intellectually and creatively to increase your income.
AFAS P: Your word for the new intakes that are fresh fish in this big ocean called Unibadan
SHOLA: I will only say they have found themselves on this road and the road has a lot of hurdles and distractions but they should be focused.
AFAS P: And to the finalists who are on the threshold of their departure from the University of Ibadan?
SHOLA: To them, I will say: it is not over until it is over.