UISU ELECTION: the Union is a pressure group meant to defend the rights and interests of its members – Aderemi

AFAS Press recently engaged the University of Ibadan Students’ Union presidential aspirants in order for them to articulate their plans and stake their claims to the coveted seat of the presidency of the Premier Students’ Union. Here is Ojo Aderemi telling UItes why he should be elected on the 29th of April 2017…

AFAS PRESS: Can you introduce yourself to Uites?

OJO ADEREMI: My name is Ojo Aderemi. I am a student of the department of History, 200L. I am an aspirant for the post of president of the Students Union of University of Ibadan. I was a pressman but now I am a campus politician.

AFAS PRESS: Why the presidency?

OJO ADEREMI: The presidency seems to be the symbol or the commanding height of the Students’ Union which to a very reasonable extent, the president influences most of the decisions of the executive council.

AFAS PRESS: What are the leadership experiences you’ve had?

OJO ADEREMI: Alright. When I was in primary school, I was head boy. In my high school, Government College, Ibadan, I was acting head of school and when I got into the university, I was versatile in the press. But I also held executive positions in humanitarian organisations. I was Director of Information of All Nigerian United Nation Students and Youth Association (ANUNSA). I was subsequently appointed the chairman of the Publicity Committee of the same organisation. I was Political Editor of the Union of Campus Journalists. I was the Editor-General of Students Union Press Club. I was the Director of Media and Publicity of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) in Oyo state. I was also the acting Vice-President of the Faculty of Arts Literary and Debating society.

AFAS PRESS: Are your experiences actually enough to head the Students Union of the University of Ibadan?

OJO ADEREMI: Well, on the basis of comparison, comparison with past Union presidents, I think I have been more around in the university system than any of our past presidents, that’s one. I have held positions in the university that has informed me about the university process than most of the presidents we have had in the past since the reinstatement of the Students Union and definitely, of course, my personal development is enough and over enough.

AFAS PRESS: What is the state of the Union?

OJO ADEREMI: First of all, we need to understand the reason why there is Students Union. The reason why there is a Union is for it to be a pressure group and I always insist on that, that the Union is a pressure group which is meant to defend the rights and interests of members of that Union. Its basic reason, its fundamental reason, is for the articulation of our interests which in turn becomes the policy or the supposed policy of the executive council. But right now, it seems the Union is being run like a corporate organisation and I can say by all standard that the Union is currently a weak union which may not be able to perform its historical responsibility.

AFAS PRESS: You did say that the Students Union is weak. So, in what areas is it weak?

OJO ADEREMI: As regards political orientation of students, the Union is weak. Many at times, in those days, when congresses were called, people will leave football and come for congresses. As of two sessions ago, the Union was not this weak and I can categorically say that. I was part of the March 5 congress mobilisation committee because we went around and mobilise students. Idiates were leaving their foods, putting them down and following the Students Union bus and then going down to the SUB Foyer by themselves to attend the Students Union congress, they were leaving their clothes. As far as Awo Hall is, Awoites were coming downstairs.  That was because the Students Union was carrying people along; the Union was informing students. As a matter of fact, that is what determines a strong union, when you are able to mobilise members of the union and their is a quick response from their side.

AFAS PRESS: One of the major aspirants for the same position is actually hammering on the fact that a person with a good knowledge of law and legal system is the best man for the job. What is your take on that?

OJO ADEREMI: Well, on that issue, any human being can be a union leader and a union leader without ideological leaning is nothing but a potential criminal. So irrespective of the field of study of the person, your ideologies spell who you are. In the past we have had presidents who performed legendary roles in the lives of students and who are not from the Faculty of Law. There is no need for me mentioning the names of those who didn’t perform well who are from the Faculty of Law. So as regards that, that is an error that needs to be corrected.

AFAS PRESS: In your opinion, who is an ideal SU president?

OJO ADEREMI: An ideal SU president is the president that first recognises that the Students Union is a tower of strength; is an army that is meant to defend students at all times; that is meant to check victimisation; that is meant to incorporate our welfare in the scheme of things. An ideal SU president is a president that recognises the use of congresses for major decision making most of the time. That is an ideal president.

AFAS PRESS: Do you think intellectualism is enough to lead the Students Union?

OJO ADEREMI: Intellectualism is the basis, courage is part of it as well as dedication, decisiveness.

AFAS PRESS: Do you have the courage to face the Management?

OJO ADEREMI: My antecedents speak about this.

AFAS PRESS: Who among your co-aspirants would you be voting if you are not contesting?

OJO ADEREMI: I won’t like to disclose that.

AFAS PRESS: Humility before election, arrogance after election; how will you be able to manage that?

OJO ADEREMI: Like I told you, I have interacted with people during the sessions I was a diploma student in this university and nobody has complained about any change in my character or attitude. For about three years, I sustained one single character in an academic environment and that is me. If you are talking about arrogance as regards the way you stay around and then you start greeting everybody because you want them to recognise you, sorry let us not be mistaken. The delivery of a leader is what spells the success of his administration. Once I deliver to students, I am not obliged………

AFAS PRESS: To be humble?

OJO ADEREMI: No. I am obliged to be humble, definitely. But it seems in this context, probably the definition of humility is that you go around and of course, that is definitely what it will mean in this context. But you have to be humble, if you are not humble, people will desert you.

AFAS PRESS: But you believe in the end justifies the means. Once you are able to deliver on your manifestos, nobody should give a damn on your character.

OJO ADEREMI: You cannot underestimate the role of character in leadership. I have just said it that you need to be humble so that you won’t lose followers.

AFAS PRESS: Please itemise your plans for Uites.

OJO ADEREMI: Alright. The first thing I think University of Ibadan Students’ Union needs is political orientation of students, I mean political education. There is a need to educate them on the reason why there is student unionism, why there is a Students Union in the University of Ibadan. Secondly, the Union needs to have a diplomatic leader, a leader that understands that there is need for a collaboration with sister unions, the Students Unions and then Workers Unions. There should be a collaboration between the Students Union and the Workers Union. Third, security… There is a need for us to build a security committee that will be all encompassing. The security of students lies in the hands of students. As a matter of fact and history, the defence ministers and their defence committees have to be part of the Students Union security committee that will parade the school and secure students. And of course, we need to improve security consciousness and watchfulness among students as well, because at the beginning of this session, there was rise in social vices as I saw. I was around, so I met people and I fetch stories. We are especially on Awo road. Fourth, the welfare situation on campus has to be reviewed. According to the Students Information Handbook 2014/1015 as revised, chapter 10 page 152, there is suppose to be a welfare board on which students and members of staff will be represented. It will be a reviewing your welfare situation on campus, periodically. The last time I heard of a meeting like that that held was in 2015. That is a long time from now and that is why things get damaged and we would not be able to repair them. That is one of the reasons why maintenance culture is quite low, especially in this part of the world. Apart from that, our special persons, those who can’t see, those who can’t see, they need to be incorporated into the scheme of things as well. I was speaking with the current president of the Special Persons Club and we talked for about two hours where he told me a lot of things. Then, I discovered that they need the intervention of the Union and myself and a friend who was a former PRO of the Students Union sat down and we started drafting a bill of rights for them. Their location on campus, their nearness to water supply, their transport, all need to be taken care of and of course, how they write their examinations. Another thing is that students need to be involved in the decision making process of this university. As a matter of fact, we are the major stakeholders. And according to Section 7 of the Nigerian University Act, 2003, as amended and signed into law by Olusegun Obasanjo, says that students must be involved in  committees that takes decisions as regards students, including increment of fees. Students have to be involved and we must accept to whatever the decision is. Apart from that, we will have periodic congresses. There is no Union leader that can run the Students Union with his brain alone. You need to get students involved, you need to carry them along. It is not on the day of protest that you go into their halls of residence and you start calling them to come out. You need to carry them along, how the Union is running, whatever the Union is doing. And apart from that, the Union needs to start responding to national and international issues. We are  students of a university, we should be able to write commentaries at the level of the Students Union and print it out officially, and also condemn some devilish acts of members of the administrative class of Nigeria, the principalities and powers that govern the high places of this country, those who are siphoning our money, we need to talk about them. I as the president will talk about these things.  Lastly, there is a National Association of Nigeria Students(NANS) . That body was established in 1986 after the defunct National Union of Nigeria Students. Now, the University of Ibadan played an important role in the forming of that body. But now, NANS is no more pro-students and it is the duty of the University of Ibadan Students Union as the mother Union in Nigeria to always intervene and make sure that things are put back to place. Sanity must be restored to students unionism in Nigeria at large and it is our duty as the premier university if truly we want to live up to that expectation and reputation.

AFAS PRESS: Endorsements from History department, Zik Hall and AFAS means a lot of people have been putting their stake on Ojo Aderemi. What can make Ojo Aderemi be disqualified from the race?

OJO ADEREMI: Probably if I have committed any criminal act before now, I can be disqualified. I think that is basically the only thing. If I have committed any wrong thing or probably I have been indicted by constituted authorities, so to speak, then I can be disqualified. Any other disqualification is not just unjust…….let us just end it there.

AFAS PRESS: What about the CGPA saga?

OJO ADEREMI: The computation of my result on that so called Book of Life is not right too. So I wrote a letter to my department, requesting for my transcript and I complained that the computation of my result is wrong and the department acted on it, another transcript was written. That is the transcript I submitted to the electoral commission. So as regards disqualification on the basis of CGPA, that is not possible.

AFAS PRESS: That means those that have been endorsing you can have peace of mind that you will not be disqualified.

OJO ADEREMI: If they don’t have peace of mind, they wouldn’t have endorsed me.

AFAS PRESS: Mr Ojo Aderemi, you should know that Olawuni Mustapha did not win the UI SU presidency, but yet, he was able to influence some decisions like counting of votes in the halls of residence.

OJO ADEREMI : The first thing is this, if I did not win the election (God forbid) , I would gladly constitute an opposition that will always put whoever wins on his feet because the welfare of the students is a priority and election is not a do or die affair.

AFAS PRESS: Mr Ojo Aderemi, you should know that politics at Students Union level is a micro unit of the mainstream politics. The corruption we have today is part of the result that the students who pass through the universities did not receive full training. So explain what you mean by difference between mainstream politics and the one at the level of students unionism.

OJO ADEREMI: First of all, by being a member of the student community of the University of Ibadan, you belong to a global academic community. The kind of training you are not going to receive in Agbowo, you will receive it here. That is why you can survive anywhere in the world having been a student of University of Ibadan. Now, the type of politics that they will play in Agbowo is different from the one here. The local government chairmen or councillors, do they have debates? We are going to be having our own debate at the level of the Students Union. So as regards people not having discipline, I think some of these people fell by the roadside and some of them are still upright men as we speak. Some of them died upright men, and that is the kind of person I would love to be too.

AFAS PRESS: So, who is your biggest threat in this election?

OJO ADEREMI: You see, from my experiences in this university expression, anybody can win an election, no matter what.

AFAS PRESS: Are you congress shy, congress friendly or congress enthusiastic?

OJO ADEREMI: Emphatically congress enthusiastic.

AFAS PRESS: How often are we going to be having congresses?

OJO ADEREMI: Periodically, periodically. We have to be practical here. During our congresses, classes won’t be holding. So definitely, the first thing we are going to do is to gather intelligence. And once intelligence mounts as regards issues on students welfare, we will be calling congresses continuously and until that problem is solved, we won’t stop calling congresses. But then, if we should win the election, the first point of call will be a congress of the Students Union.

AFAS PRESS: Your final word to Uites.

OJO ADEREMI: University of Ibadan students have an obligation to the suffering Nigerians around the country. And there is a global demand on this university that we should produce those who will solve problems selflessly in this country. Therefore, our daily life should toe that line. That is the kind of union members we need to have, selflessness all the time.

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