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In students' unionism, we need a mental shift from violence

Published by Tribune on Thu, 05 Jan 2012

Kolapo Abayomi, also known as 'Fellow,' as well as 'Jega' of University of Ilorin, is a 300L student of Political Science. He is the immediate past chairman of the Independent Students' Electoral Commission, Students' Union, University of Ilorin, that conducted the April 2011 Students' Union election. He was inducted into the All Nigeria United Nations Students and Youths Association (ANUNSA) in 2005 and has been to several leadership training. In this interview with Hameed Muritala, 200L Mass Communication, UNILORIN, he speaks on his experiences.How did you feel when you were elected the ISEC chairman'Smiles....Calling to serve as the Electoral Commission Chairman of the Students' Union of 'the better by far' university, the best university in Nigeria, I was so happy and as such, made up my mind and was fully prepared to conduct an election that even the Nigeria electoral system would love to emulate. I want to contribute to the progress of the Students' Union. A good and uncompromised electoral process will produce the will of the people and having been equipped with the true mechanism of electoral process, I wanted to put them on motion and right the wrongs before we get to the world for total reformation. Infact! I am very happy I served the union in this respect. My greatest regards and appreciation go to the students of the University of Ilorin for giving me the opportunity to direct the affairs of the Electoral Commission. It allowed me to show my commitment and loyalty to the union. How would you describe your tenure as the chairman, Electoral Commission'Very nice and innovative in nature, because we introduced new things into the system. I had the best and experienced team. We introduced Direct Electronic Voting System (DEVS), several debates for the aspirants and the screening. All were very interesting. Students, as well as management, applauded it. We acquired the software and our technical team, 'De 007' was on ground . But unfortunately, we later dropped the move and opted for old ballot system a day to election, for constitutional reason. Some stakeholders later called our attention to the section in the constitution that lay emphasis on ballot system.But we hope the next election will improve on what we did and adopt electronic system, since there is Students' Union constitutional review in process in SRC. The recommendations on it had been sent to the review committee. Something better will be done on it because we believe in the present leadership of the Students' Representative Council (SRC). All in all, the tenure was so interesting and we were able to galvanize different experiences, equipping ourselves to serve more intelligently in the nearest future.How would you compare students' unionism in Unilorin to other schools'There is no need for every union in different institutions to practise in the same manner because what is applicable here might not be applicable in another system. That is the purpose of systemic theory and that is exactly what is affecting Nigeria and other African countries. We do copy the European countries too much. What is applicable there can never work in the same direction here, because we have distinct cultural backgrounds, environmental factors, governmental structure and so on. There is need to formulate policies that will be compliant with our cultural values and environmental situation. See the issue of homosexualism in the National Assembly, both United States and Britain don't have locus standi to interfere with our domestic law. They forgot that we have our sovereignty and we are operating in different cultural backgrounds. They may support gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual legislation in their domains but it is a taboo in our domain. That is what I mean by systemic theory. So a students' union activity in UNILORIN is different from what is applicable in other schools. But I'm strongly proposing a mental revolution to students' union activism than violence because there is need to embrace dialogue instead of violence in anything we do. Infact! I am interested in specialising in International Relations and Conflict Management so as to find a lasting solution to the conflict as well as several crises in Nigeria and the world at large.Many students argue that the school authority has influence in who becomes the Students' Union president. What is your view on this'That is not true at all. You know I am the former chairman of this commission. So I know what is applicable in ISEC and what is not. Infact, that was the insinuation we met on ground. I also believed in this assertion before I became the helmsman of the commission. My brother, don't let me deceive you, it is not true. Infact, we had our total freedom working in accordance with the Students' Union constitution and we got maximum help from the school authority.I must commend the efforts of the Students' Affairs Unit as well as the Security Unit. At times, I called the Dean, Students' Affairs midnight and he picked my calls and responded politely. Professor S. Umoh is a father. No one in the school, whether, individually or collectively, interfered with our operations and activities.Being a Political Science student, do you have any political ambition'I must answer this question by the statement of the great political thinker, Aristotle, that "man, by his nature, is a political animal." There is nowhere you find yourself, everyone do play politics in one way or the other. And more so, I will also complement it with the statement of the former provost of the Federal College of Education, Oyo, Professor Taoheed Adedoja, who said, "if we all sit at a corner and continue to criticise government activities without partaking in the process, the fools shall continue to rule us." He left the academic circle for political circle. He was right. There is need for all of us, so far we are Nigerians, to partake in the process in order to drive out the ignorant and the mediocrity, in order to install technocrats for better governance. But for me, if we get to the bridge, we shall know how to cross it.Your advice to the students'There is need for us to equip ourselves now for future challenges, by having excellent reading habit and also, we should engage in challenging academic activities. We should remember that we are the future leaders that start from now. That is what I mean by mental revolution among youths. Input determines the output. May God bless University of Ilorin as well as the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
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