Inside AFAS political matters: what do we know and what did we learn?


When the news of Prime’s suspension broke out in the afternoon hours of Saturday, many were not surprised by this decision. In fact, some Afasites and non-Afasites alike remarked that he had it coming. Indeed, for a person who holds the position of sports’ director, Prime was in the news too many times. From the time of the sports’ day, the President’s announcement at the stakeholder’s meeting of his suspension from the executive council, his suspension from office by the Faculty Legislative Council, his reinstatement to office but on tight ropes, and then his ultimate impeachment, it is suffice to say that indeed, Prime might have had it coming.

However, it is important to look at the way things played out and consider if, just if, it reflects the state of AFAS political sphere, or Prime was just not good enough and ready for the position he held. Although, Prime’s impeachment dominated the talk of the faculty this week, this editorial will examine matters in the faculty critically to paint a picture of the state of politics in Faculty of Arts.

Was Prime the odd one out?

One of the essence of the independently elected leaders coming together to form a cabinet was so they could work together, hide the blushes of the other person, and together achieve the individual and collective dreams. That is why it is called the executive council. However, what played out in Prime’s case begs us to cast our eyes on the extent to which the present executive council is united. After the President’s announcement of Prime’s suspension last semester, Prime has appeared to be a one man army. In the weeks that followed this President’s announcement, he appeared before the house to present the budget of the Super 4 and the inter-level football competition with neither the letterhead of the association nor the appended signature of the President or the general secretary. It was at this point that we began to cast brows on the unity stance of the executive council. If, in a perfect world, the way of budget presentation is unknown to the erstwhile sports’ director, couldn’t, say, the general secretary have pointed out how things ought to be done? But, we can claim that since he was suspended, nobody wanted to be in his business.

Even if we agree on this stance, what played out during the interrogation of the house in the committee of the whole held last semester after the report of the adhoc committee that looked into the matter of Prime suggested more to the matter. The back and forth that played hinted that Prime was the odd one out in the council. To simply put it, no one really liked him amongst them, or perhaps he just was overbearing and they couldn’t take it anymore. Whatever the case is, the tussle of words in justifying the Sports’ director’s guilt showed that no one, at that point, was ready to work with him any longer. This begs the question why the FLC reinstated him in the first place, seeing that the offence then was more worthy of impeachment than the one now. In fact, the constitution provided that missing 3 consecutive council meeting equates desertion of office, and so by law he was out.

Furthermore, to show how odd he was, the joint audit and investigative committee reported that all other members of the executive council who appeared before the committee to give an account of their expenditure during the freshers’ orientation week all came prepared and ready, however, for Prime the opposite was the case. This was so much so, that Hon. Collins wondered if he couldn’t just have met with any of the council members for assistance on how to do his own report. However, as has been pointed out above, he was the odd one out, so no surprise there.

In fact, the Press has foreseen this issue and had written in one of her editorials that the reinstatement of Prime by the FLC will mean that he had to tread of thin ropes which he shouldn’t have to for someone in the executive council and will breed docility or his ultimate removal, if he simply doesn’t do the bidding of other members of the council, was looming. Also, the Press had pointed out that from the interrogation that had happened in the house, Prime’s days were numbered seeing that no one was really ready to work with him.

Prime: the man who chose wrongly.

It is important for student leaders to understand the functions of the Press before examining the articles of the press and accuse the Press of negativity or witch hunting. On many occasions, whenever student leaders see their name appear on Press articles, they cry foul and go with the narrative that the Press is bias or trying to bring them down. However, it is important for everyone to have it in their mind that, should the Press not report matters that happen exactly how they happen, what will that say about the Press? Should the Press cover things up? More so, when the Press do cover thing up is when the Press can be accused of wrong doing. This misconception played out in Prime’s case.

When AFAS Press published the announcement of the President on the suspension of Prime, he announced on his whatsapp status that the Press was trying to bring him down and thenceforth he will not be granting any interviews with any member of the Press. And yes, he kept to his words. Well, until his impeachment. Also, he granted an interview to his departmental press to announce that he was never suspended. This was contrary to the statement he later made in his impeachment interview that the negligence of duty allegation was when he was suspended. These are contrasting statements which would not have occurred if he had simply taken the Press report for the quality piece of information that it was and genuinely attempt to mend bridges with members of the executive council to cement his legacy as a Sports’ director in the faculty. However, he faltered, and when news of the impeachment broke, he realized then, albeit too late, that the Press was never his enemy.

FLC finally breaking out of their shells?

The Press has repeatedly, in her past publications, in past years, called for the FLC to take up the mantle and be the body that it was created for. Over the years, the Legislative council had been relegated to an all glorified body of a budget approving council. It was as though the house was caging behind the approval of budget as its high and mighty power; even the deputy speaker cited an adjective the Press used in qualifying the house over the years to call honourable members to being proactive and make the right decisions.

However, this session, the house has been making genuine attempts to call erring leaders to order. But, on some occasions, the decision making of the house still hangs a question mark around it. For example, the decision of the house to pardon Prime the first time was against the constitution. Also, the house needs to train her members on the art of rational argument, and not see the Press as the enemy nor bear grudges against the arm, as has been displayed in the past. Nevertheless, this session, the house implemented a punitive measure after the President did not appear before her when he was supposed to, and has been on top of the Prime’s case. It is indeed a welcome development that the house is no longer focusing on just one part of her constitutional duty, although it remains to be seen how long that will last.

Leaders should know the art of public speaking?

When Prime was given the chance to defend himself at the Plenary, his first words were “…I apologise for my negligence of duty…” furthermore, upon being given another chance to right the wrong and clear anyone of any impressionable doubt, he said “…the receipts were lost when the first aid box was stolen”. These were nails to the coffin. Admission of guilt and confession to charges were enough to move for a motion of impeachment. One will begin to wonder if all student leaders are like that when given the chance to put up a defense for themselves? Do they all just falter at that stage or it was just a Prime thing? Whatever the case is, this is a call for student leaders to refine themselves in the art of public speaking, lest they fail before they even start.

In conclusion

Not to cut corners, to gaze at the matter of the impeachment independently, one might come to the conclusion that the allegations might not be enough for impeachment, at least a stern warning and some form of deterrent would have been enough, but that would have been one time too many. Prime’s case kept recurring and the house decided it was enough. Moreover, the undertaking he signed did not help matters.

Furthermore, team Altruism must ensure that the rest of the semester is seen out with no hiccups. The affairs of the faculty must be administered with utmost integrity and accountability, without leaving behind the spirit of being a team, for as has played out in far too many administrations in the past, the lack of team spirit is the beginning of chaos.

Lessons must be learnt by student leaders and prospective politicians on the dangers of not working as a team. A one-man-army might falter before he/she can get to their destination, however, with a team, you can be pushed to the finished line. Prime’s case has now become a lesson for everyone. If there are other truths to the story, AFAS Press will be sure to report them.

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