Upholding Constitutionalism: The Council of Presidents and Secretaries’ Failure to Uphold the AFAS Constitution

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Olanshile Ogunrinu

“The constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government.” These words by Patrick Henry, one of America’s founding fathers, underscore the importance of constitutionalism as a cornerstone of democracy. In any organization, adherence to the constitution is crucial to ensuring fairness, transparency, and accountability. However, in the Association of Faculty of Arts Students (AFAS), the Council of Presidents and Secretaries has failed to uphold its constitutional obligations. The council is mandated to constitute an electoral commission not later than the beginning of the fifth week of the second semester and to conduct elections not later than the 10th week. Yet, as the tenth week draws to a close, the council has not even constituted the electoral commission, raising concerns about the commitment of the council to abide by and uphold the dictates of the association’s constitution.

Article 41(I) of the AFAS constitution states that “The electoral commission shall be constituted and inaugurated by the Council of Presidents and Secretaries not later than the beginning of the fifth week of the second semester in consultation with the Staff Adviser.” In the same vein, Chapter Seven (7), article 34 states that “Election shall be held not later than the end of Tenth week of the second semester of every session.” It is utterly alarming that as of the tenth week of the second semester, despite requesting members for the electoral committee from departments a few weeks ago, the council is yet to inaugurate the committee, not to mention fulfilling the obligated conducting of the elections by the tenth week.

One would have expected that after the executives of AFAS spent over a year in office, the efforts unfurled towards their transitioning will be speedy and timely, in accordance with the constitution. Following the dictates of the constitution would have allowed the election process smooth and all-encompassing because the subsequent weeks after the tenth week is usually busy for most students. These weeks are the times when activities like departmental weeks and other social events and ultimately the preparation for examinations takes place, which begs the question, “when is the CPS going to constitute the electoral committee?”

When contacted, Mr Bankole, the Chairman of the council cited issues with the management as the reason for their failure to adhere to the constitutional stipulated time frame.

“We are sorry that we’ve not constituted the electoral committee. We will see to it this week sir. We are trying to sort out some issues with the management because we can’t do anything behind them. I can assure you that it will be sorted this week,” he said.

However, when contacted for commentaries on the development, the speaker of the Faculty Legislative Council, Rt. Hon. Olasoji asserted that he cannot speak on the issue at the moment citing that maybe some factors are hindering the CPS from acting. This disposition by the head of the lawmaking body of the association begs the question of what will be the consequence of violation of the constitution. The constitution of any organization serves as a guide for the activities and operations of the organization. It sets out the rules and regulations that all members are expected to abide by, including the leadership. The Council of Presidents and Secretaries in AFAS is tasked with the important responsibility of constituting an electoral commission and conducting elections within a specified timeline. The failure to fulfill this crucial constitutional obligation is a clear violation of the constitution and a breach of trust between the council and the members of the association and as such, demands that the violation be addressed to ensure the supremacy of the constitution.

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