Segun Ogunlade

It is an inarguable fact that Association of Faculty of Arts Students (AFAS) had a turbulent time this past week. To those who witnessed the mini drama of Tuesday 9th July and the main drama culminating into an emergency congress on Wednesday 10th July, 2019, the state of AFAS as an association needs saving from the power mongers within the executive council and most importantly the Faculty Legislative Council (FLC) where the most powerful Afasites presides over the situation of things. What we have witnessed in the association this past week could not be termed anything else but a show of power. If allowed to continue, it may spell doom for us all as we are still in the early days of the session and power show between the executive and the ‘honourable’ honourable members is not what anyone would wish for. The matter needs to be critically addressed so we don’t have organs of the association warring against each other and the leaders dividing the association into caucus in a way that breeds prejudice and a pitiable end. A house divided against itself they say shall not understand, so likewise an association where the important figures are at loggerheads in a show of power and influence.

Though many amongst us would blame the FLC for starting the war, one they could not finish, I would refrain from passing judgement on anyone or any organ but rather will discuss the issue the way I see it so I wouldn’t be labelled as a defence counsel for either the executive council or the FLC or have my simple message misconstrued even though I have had a share of the FLC misusing its power when I was sent out of the July 5th, 2019 sitting— I had a taste for daring to laugh when the Speaker, Rt. Honourable Peter Olagunju, was speaking. I have my reservations about some members of the executive council especially as they have fallen below par in my assessment of them when they were screened before the election last session. While the judgements of the FLC often times reflect the personality of the person chairing it, the executive council could not succeed beyond what the head it concedes in his heart. And when the executive council and the leadership of the FLC were drawn in a fierce battle, I began to take a neutral standpoint.

Anyone that is familiar with the AFAS secretariat would know that it is sometimes misused by members of the association, irrespective of their status either as an executive member, an honourable or an Afasites without an official position. For example, the area that was mapped out for the FLC and the press has unofficially turned to a waiting area. Many activities such as chatting about unofficial events, eating and drinking by members and charging of phones are what characterized the space. Yet, some misuse of the secretariat is not new. Last session, the General Secretary of the association, Tijani Selim, among other things, was suspended on issues bordering on the use of the secretariat. Yet, the misuse did not cease but was only reduced because he took some steps in ensuring a considerable amount of sanity was returned to the secretariat. As a matter of advice, I would advise the current General Secretary, Peter Alawode, to ensure the sanctity of the secretariat at all times. For though Afasites cannot be stopped from entering the secretariat or sitting down whilst they await being attended to, some of their activities such as chit-chatting that often culminates into uncontrollable noise and watching of movies could be controlled. Besides, familiarity breeds disrespect sometimes. Many Afasites are well known to members of the executive council that oftentimes their activities in the secretariat are often left unchecked. This needs to be controlled by the General Secretary because once a place is mapped out for official purposes, efforts must be made to see it remains as such. And just because we have witnessed the sanctity of the secretariat disrespected either knowingly or unknowingly, does that mean the executive council should be asked by the FLC to leave the main office and occupy the space currently marked out for the FLC and the press? I believe this is a call that is way more than the FLC. For me, it translates to show of power and abuse of it. I have never believed the FLC has any business with the main office neither should the activities around the secretariat be left unchecked. For some reasons, I believe the executive council needs the space they are currently occupying now more than any organ of the association. First, they are in charge of daily activities of the association. Doing so in an open space such as the one marked out for the FLC and the press would hamper some of their activities including meetings from external persons. Second, the main office means some documents that needs safekeeping would be kept as such. When they are pushed out to an open space which sanctity cannot be guaranteed, we might soon have cases of missing documents because an Afasites somehow picks up a paper that he believes has served its purpose and needs discarding. Third, there are times when the treasurer needs to deposit money in the bank. He needs a safe place to count them before heading out to the bank. Unlike what some honourable members are arguing that money is best counted at night and the open space would in no way affect the safekeeping of the association’s money, we should be reminded that the security of our environment cannot be guaranteed. Besides, what could be counted and deposited during the day should not be left till the night in the hope that it would be taken to the bank the following morning. Lastly, the entity called AFAS is so called because of the executive council not the FLC, the CPS or the Press. By this it means the AFAS secretariat belongs first to the executive council before any organs of the association. As the constitution rightly says, the secretariat should be ‘maintained’ by the General Secretary not the Speaker of the FLC or the Editor-in-chief of the press organisation or even the CPS which relevance I am still grappling to get hold of.

Before the FLC says next time that the (mis)use of the AFAS secretariat should be controlled and lay blame at the feet of the executive council for tolerating Afasites who violate the rules governing the use of the FLC, it should first remind its elected but yet-to-be-sworn-in Deputy Speaker, Honourable Olumide Osinuga, that streaming online video of the proceedings of the Federal House of Representatives without earpiece to control the noise also constitutes abuse of the secretariat. He who wants to rebuke others must start with self-examination to be sure he is totally absorbed of any wrongdoing. The FLC should also be reminded that its jurisdiction does not include resolving to tell the executive council to quit their ‘innerchamber’. That is too much of a power to be exercised without due consultations with their constituents if they want it so. Because the power of the FLC is unchecked should not translate to using it to the detriment of the whole association. They should refrain from being usually viewed as a villain by members of the executive council.

For the executive council, they should know a call like this from the FLC means they are doing some wrong with the secretariat which the FLC in its oversight function has pointed out. It is true that the FLC took a wrong approach in forcefully telling the executive council to leave the main office without proper dialoguing with them like honourable members in previous parliamentary year had done. Yet, the General Secretary who should be the custodian of the secretariat forcefully evicting some principal officers of the FLC from the secretariat on Tuesday 9th July is a condemnable act. Though he ‘owns’ the secretariat, he should be reminded that the ownership is not absolute. At this stage, the FLC and the executive council should dialogue on ways to ensure proper usage of the secretariat instead of fighting on whose right it is to occupy an area of the secretariat and not the other. Such things as disagreement in this early days of the session is condemnable and all those involved must gather their heads to ensure the whole matter is resolved and the association is run effectively.

AFAS is dear to me the same way I believe it is dear to everyone. It is too early in the day for power mongers to hijack the association from the well meaning ones. And the earlier the FLC and the executive council settle their rift, the better for us all. Synergy and not bitter division and bickering is what we need now. Answer should be reminded most of all that no organ is more important than the other. Importance of an organ is a matter of perspective. For now, the association is in a troubled state and all that are responsible for it should save it from going down deeply into troubled water in the coming days.

My advice for you reader is to keep yourself out of trouble with the powers that be within the association and beyond whilst also praying that your properties should not be carted away by men stronger than you. For me, I always know how to keep myself out of trouble so I can always express my opinion and pray that the concerned parties listened to my advice. Shalom!

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