UI Student Leaders and the Scourge of Aspirational Distraction

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Olanshile Ogunrinu

Elections for student leadership positions are a vital part of the university experience, as they allow students to have a voice in shaping campus policies and initiatives. However, the pursuit of leadership roles has been taking a troubling turn among students. In UI, like at many universities, student leadership roles are highly coveted. These positions offer students a unique platform to advocate for change, represent their peers, and make a positive impact on campus affairs. It’s only natural that ambitious individuals aspire to these roles, viewing them as stepping stones to future success. The issue arises when the pursuit of higher leadership positions takes precedence over fulfilling the duties of the current role. Instead of focusing on their responsibilities, some student leaders become engrossed in planning their next campaign, strategising for future elections, and currying favour with potential supporters.

While aspiring to leadership positions is commendable, it is disheartening to witness a trend where elected student leaders become preoccupied with the permutation for the next post they want to contest for, rather than fulfilling the responsibilities that come with the current position they have been entrusted with.

Any discernible observer in the political sphere of the University of Ibadan campus politics can tell easily who is going for which post later in the session due to subtle-but-not-so-subtle politicking ongoing already. It is alarming when in the 5th week of the first semester, an elected student leader who is yet to get the ropes of his new office is already ‘permutating’ for the next position he wants to run for.

“It is a pathetic menace that should be stopped by all means. The rigours that come with holding a student leadership position are demanding and arduous, so, juggling that with being engrossed with strategising for another post you are eyeing will definitely leave you distracted and you will jeopardize the trust students have given to you by electing you for the post you are”, said Ola, a 300-level student from the Faculty of Arts.

“Just the other day, I got to know that my hall of residence’s newly elected General Secretary, who was inaugurated in September, is already planning to run for a certain student union executive position”, Ola revealed.

Also reacting to this, Faith, a 200-level student of the Department of History, noted that it will lead to student leaders neglecting current responsibilities because when they are more focused on the next position they hope to attain, they often neglect the tasks and responsibilities they were elected to fulfil and this results in unmet needs and unaddressed concerns among the student body.

“Such a person won’t be able to discharge his/her duty due to that ambition they have taken to heart. How? We all know how politics works in this school, such a person will want to avoid disagreement with anybody that may cost him/her that ambition, which is impossible, anyone who is ready to work effectively should be ready to disagree with anybody who is against the effectiveness of his/her duty in office”, he concluded.

Student Leaders React


While speaking with AFAS Press, Oluwaseye Oluwaseun, former AFAS PRO, pointed out that although strategising for a future position might affect performance in the current position, aspirants should strive to excel in the current position to aid their marketability to the students later.

“With all honesty, it will affect your current position but there is nothing wrong with it. It is good to prepare and plan early. It is just like a student writing WASSCE and UTME together”.

“There are some people who have designed it in their plans. For instance, when I was in 100L, I planned not to vie for any post. I planned to vie for AFAS PRO or UI’SU SRC member in 200L and then UISU PRO in 300L, it is a plan from 100L”, he recounted.

Speaking further, Active Don, as he is popularly known, emphasised that being an officeholder gives an edge to a political office hopeful over other contestants.

“One of the merits is that it gives you advantages over other contestants, you have the fame, name and good records so it is easy to sell/preach yourself to the people. Consequently, it is more difficult for someone who is holding or has held a political office to win the election than someone who is taking it for the first time because they are going to criticize everything you have done,” he said.

“It is better for office holders to first work towards earning a good record from the people regarding their current position before starting a new aspiration. One good turn deserves another”.

When reached, another student leader, a former faculty president, who requested anonymity, said it is never too early to start preparation towards an election on campus.

“Whether the current office they hold will suffer neglect is based on how well they use the human capital resources around them, they can create a team/committee to work with them and delegate duties to ease their affairs”, he said.

In conclusion, aspiring to higher positions is not inherently wrong; it can even be a sign of dedication and ambition. However, it is essential for student leaders to strike a balance between their aspirations and their responsibilities. This ambition should not come at the expense of the current role and the duties associated with it. Student leaders must make fulfilling their current responsibilities their top priority while reflecting and planning strategically for their long-term goals.









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