Oyedokun Agnes Tioluwanimi

Students avidly anticipate the chance to choose candidates who will represent them in various student bodies when the election period nears in departments, faculties, and halls of residence, including the Student Union. Yet, a worrying pattern regarding how frequently students vote based on “who told them first” rather than competence is a recurring election problem in the University of Ibadan. This kind of behaviour has negative effects on the government system as a whole. In situations like these, competence and qualifications frequently take a backseat, which can result in the election of “leaders” who are completely unqualified to hold office.

Lack of knowledge and comprehension of the significance of competence in leadership may be one of the primary causes of this tendency. Students might not be aware of the serious implications that can result from choosing leaders based on familiarity rather than skill. Inept leaders may be unable to resolve problems and difficulties experienced by students, such as raising academic standards, promoting students’ rights, or fixing infrastructure problems on campus. This can lead to a reduction in the standard of instruction and the general well-being of the students.
Voting in student elections based on familiarity can have negative effects on both the student community and the general development of the university. Leaders that are incompetent or unqualified could not have the required expertise to properly represent the concerns and interests of the students.

This may lead to inadequate leadership, poor resource management, and a failure to bring about significant change within the university community. Since tribal, friendship, or ethnic ties may cause tensions and disputes among the student body, it can also cause division among the student body, which could impair the community’s general harmony and unity. 

Election candidates are usually asked to share their manifestos and show themselves to students in debates, press nights, and interviews to prove their expertise and qualifications. As a result, students would be able to make decisions based on the qualifications and goals of the candidates rather than flimsy criteria like familiarity.

Promoting a culture of competence and voting based on qualifications and competence is crucial. The significance of selecting leaders over those based on personal connections or familiarity must be emphasized to students. Instead, leaders should be chosen based on their skills, qualifications, and plans for the growth of the university community. Press nights, debates, and manifesto nights are a few examples of occasions where the importance of competence in student elections and the characteristics of good leadership are discussed.

Voting based on familiarity has the drawback of discouraging competent students from participating in the election. If they don’t have a large social network or personal connections, students who might have the abilities, expertise, and enthusiasm to help their fellow students may be dissuaded from seeking leadership roles. This might lead to a small pool of candidates and a lack of diversity in student leadership, which would eventually impede student leadership development and limit the possibility of constructive change on campus.

Students must develop a culture of meritocracy in student elections and understand the value of competence in leadership to address this problem. The traits and skills that create a strong leader, such as honesty, vision, problem-solving abilities, and a history of service, should be taught to students. Also, steps should be taken by the electoral body and the Press to guarantee that the election is free from bias and is fair and transparent.

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