An open letter to UI politicians


To whomever it may concern

Many times, electing leaders comes with different piecing factors. Even if we live in a utopia, we still will disagree to an extent on who we all think is best to rule us. Similarly, prospective leaders will always attempt to win over the electorate with certain different promises, or no promises, or with just being popular; as it is not rocket science to conceive that democratic elections are fast becoming popularity contests. So, to the electorate, whose extenuating factors lies at the epicenter of their choice; to the leaders, whose attentive mind always wanders to the seaside of how to get votes, politics has a beautiful sphere to it. All you have to do is show it. One part of this sphere lays flat at the campaigning period.

Dear UI politicians, at least be creative in awareness creation

Of course with elections coming very fast, campaigning intensifies, interests become declared, propaganda fly around, and in UI, myriad of BCs are trended. Right at this dearth of disturbing BCs and politically quoted handshake is the revelation of one key aspect of student union politics in Nigeria, or should we say, UI – students really don’t have much to offer. Aside from the age long traditions of simply not attempting to break the wheel as long as it is well greased and running, there is nothing new to the political dynamics in the school.

How many times have we seen the same recycled BCs with the smiling face of the prospective leader, subtly announcing what post they want to contest for by placing their name or nickname in a miserable pun? Well, at least, they make copywriters proud, but is that all there is to it? Is that all we can offer? This editorial attempts not to criticise the fashion by which campaigns are done, in fact, that is not the crux of the discussion, rather the nature of politics in the school and what kinds of leaders/prospective leaders we have. It is just that we can’t help but point out the repeated style of awareness creation – a boring template, so to speak.

Dear UI politicians, what is your number one plan?

A widely acclaimed Netflix series “dear white people” comes to mind as this editorial is written. There are certain similarities and dissonances in the world Netflix created and the political landscape in Nigeria. One aspect of this critically acclaimed series, which resonates well with the UI political clime, is the character of Troy: the student union president. At the time of campaign, he simply gave this reply to every demand of every student he met: “that is my number one plan”. So, then we ask, are you like Troy?

Most prospective leaders, or in fact, leaders fall to the pitfall of simply meeting popular demands. Do leaders actually sit in a calm place to genuinely think of pressing matters in the environment they have met themselves and attempt a sound systemic change? Rather, because people like and, indeed, hail those whose work, no mater how infinitesimal, they see with their glaring eyes, politicians simply ride along and make everyone’s demands their number one plan. However, the eyes can indeed be deceptive. At the end of it, we end up doing the same things: fresher’s orientation, variety night, dinner, maybe a party or two, gyration, Dean’s games, and then organise academic exams – at least to say they placed focus on academics. Have we ever considered what was actually done during these tenures or what these leaders actually want to get done? In fact, many times, their manifestos usually go away with the dusts of time. But then should we blame them for this? Students, disappointedly, don’t even care about manifestos, debates or bothered to hear their leaders hold an intellectual conversation. Aluta only continua when they know the person. However, in this year of political awakening, perhaps it might be different. So let’s ask again, what exactly is your number one plan?

Dear UI politicians, do you really want to be a lamb and not the shepherd?

Troy was considered the mouth piece of the management. Whenever things happen, Troy says they dialogue with the administration and the students know that nothing ever comes out of it. So, the management makes all the decisions that concern the students without necessarily consulting the students and the students carries it like that. It is their brunt, they must bear it. At that point, in the minds of people, one question lingered: what is the point to the student union? In clear terms, UI will exist just as it exists without the student union. In fact, we can calmly argue that nothing will have been different with the way UI is now if there were no union. It translates that the leaders are lambs, just like the students and are not shepherding the students to fulfilling their interests. Troy’s union only became a body to communicate the management’s decisions to the students and the take away from Troy’s response to the barrage of questions thrown at him was that they will communicate with the management. Surely, all UItes are familiar with that script. We literally live it.

And just like that, Troy lived through with being student union president and his only achievement was vandalising the school’s property instead of any real change. So, we ask again, prospective politicians, are you a lamb or a shepherd? Ponder on this before trending your BC.

Dear female UI politicians, you really should be tired of VPship

One long traditional trend about UI, or perhaps it is just the political landscape of Nigeria that is rubbing off on the student setting, is that females do not desire to take the mantle. Perhaps it is a thing of culture to simply be the vice to a more dominating and charismatic figure – which is faux in many ways. But really, it is time for the females to consider taking the bull by the horn. In ‘Dear white people‘, the character of Collandrea is another appropriate allusion for this piece. A powerful lady, who is absolutely smart, talented, problem solver (who actually does something other than complain), but sadly finds herself grasping at straws. Although she knew Troy was incapable, she still lets him go off on being the president.

Is it possible that women in the premier university decide to settle for the traditional role of vice because of some innate patriarchal doctrine? Or is it just the fear to actually go for the apex? Or could it just be that there is a fear that women will not support women? – Because it is indeed possible for “women to be doing women”. Or it could be that there is an unwritten gentleman’s agreement? Whatever the case is, females in UI need to take from the significant victory of NUESA president, Reuben Gorgeana, and realize that they are just as strong as the men in the grand scheme of politics.

Here is the custom: men, president – women, vice president. Shouldn’t we begin to ask what exactly men possess that women do not? Or is there some politicking behind this custom. At least it could be possible that women will offer us a better way at creating awareness than the tedium BCs we are accustomed to. Also, there is a noticeable trend that men don’t even contest for the vice role. This is as though there is an unwritten agreement which is perhaps signed between, say, Queens and Zik that a female be VP and male be President – a take it or leave it situation.

Note that this is not a call for women to declare interest in being president just because of the gap; rather it is a pointer to the gender gap in student politics in UI and for women to become aware of themselves if they have what it takes to serve in the position of the president.

And now, in this season of rampaging BCs, how is it that those of females are scarce? Or are there no competent female in UI. Is it possible that the females have it in their minds that they simply cannot do better than Mascot, thus, simply serving as vice is enough? Well, we must put it to the dearest female politicians: is VPship not tiring?

Dear AFAS politicians, man shall not live by bread alone.

This goes for the aspiring AFAS and UI leaders. When people hear the word ‘Arts’, they expect creativity and unparalleled intelligence and so don’t disappoint. At least, do not add in your manifesto that you will fulfill your constitutional duties – that is literally your job. Also, at this point, we must beg you to know that adding organisation of tutorial might not cut it anymore. As of last season, organising tutorials as a manifesto was abused. In fact, tutorials aren’t even moving anymore: aspirants will organise myriad of them to get the attention of the electorates anyway.

There are better options out there. Sit somewhere, look around the faculty, look around the school, examine the challenges and problems student face, think of how you can attempt to solve them and come out with a plan of how you want to take steps in ensuring your manifesto comes to fruition. It is astounding for a person to name his movement “the blueprint” and the only thing blue that can be found in the plan is the header colour – just vibes, organise tutorials and Inshallah.

In the spirit of this political climate and the fact that it is a student environment where intellectuals are bred, the least you can do is to up your game. Stop giving bread alone, at least try to get a nice pounded yam.

Dear everyone, do we still want to continue down this line?

Although this piece is directed at student politicians, however, due to the fact that non politicians will read this, we might as well pass a few messages across. It is important for us to start asking ourselves at this time who exactly it is we want to vote for? What will inform our decisions? What plans must the person have? Or do we still want to get in line with the fictional Bode, who after many years of roaming around, came back just he had left in a ‘BLLB’ fashion? Isn’t it time for us to deeply think before we elect our leaders? Or is it until our leader announce our own support for a presidential candidate behind our back in a video everyone with eyes watched, be asked to apologise, attempt to apologise and then write to set records straight without providing any shred of evidence of the straight records, that we will now all vent our angers and swore the very day we logged onto the voting platform to click the name? Or is it someone who will be investigated for breach of duty and be told to vacate office but still go ahead to claim that they were never suspended that we want?

Do not vote because you like the person’s name, or just because you see a BC wishing you a (insert the person’s name) day. Be objective, know about their manifesto, know if they are the “my number one plan guy” – as this editorial has pointed, or if they simply just don’t have anything to offer except that they come from the most populated department in the faculty or maybe Indy. Let them show you what they can offer, but don’t stop there; let them tell you how they want to achieve it. Do this and know peace of mind.

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