[Analyses]–Bottle breaks…Whistle blows… Trumpet sounds… Such was the mental picture accompanying the full blown shock I experienced in the early hours of Tuesday, having seen members of the Ojo led executive council of the suspended Students’ Union, University of Ibadan openly questioning the votes they secured at the poll. I was still absorbing the shock when another one struck, as a loyal member of the ‘Patriotic Intelligentsia’ and the perceived right hand man of the President openly supported the claims of the executive members, describing Ojo Aderemi as a blackmailer, dishonest fellow and an individual who seeks nothing but self promotion. Of course, when the sun which is known for rising in the east and setting in the west takes a different turn, thus, rising in the west and setting in the east, then it is evident that several incidents had happened during the course of the night.
The Students of the University of Ibadan voted en masse on April 29, 2017 for their preferred political aspirants, with the hope that the aspirants will give to them, the ideal Union they crave—where the welfare of students will be promoted, unity among students will be enhanced, where victimisation of students will be fought against, where the lives of students will be improved and in addition, where strikes will be averted. At the end of the voting exercise, majority of Uites voted Ojo Aderemi as the President of the Students’ Union, which is now suspended. Ojo, during a Press Conference witnessed by campus journalists, under the aegis of the Union of Campus Journalists, University of Ibadan, said he would uphold the previous resolution of the Congress, which was “No ID cards, No ID exam”, since the University management was unable to provide students with ID cards for three semester, which as described by the leadership of the suspended Union, has led to harassment of students in public, loss of scholarship opportunities for students, inability to conduct certain bank transactions, among others.
Since Ojo had promised to give the students a Union where they would be able to make decisions by themselves, the administration called the first Congress where students resolved to uphold the resolution of ‘No ID cards, No exam’ and also to protest on May 29, so as to inform the public of the state of things at the nation’s Premier University. The school management, having heard of the resolution, called the President of the Union, Ojo Aderemi, the Speaker of the Students’ Representative Council, Ibrahim Asiwaju, to a meeting at the Senate Chambers in the eve of May 28, 2017. As described by the Union President, it was later agreed during the meeting with the Vice Chancellor that a member of the Senate will address Uites the next morning (day of the protest), unfortunately no one came. Uites protested peacefully outside the school gate, amidst threat by the Oyo State Commissioner of Police.
It was during the course of the protest that the Vice Chancellor, Professor Idowu Olayinka, in a bid to “deflate the gra gra” of students announced through the University’s Radio station, Diamond FM, that undergraduate activities had been suspended till 17th of July, as students are to vacate their Halls of residence. This ended the protest and saw students moving out of the University with their luggage. The Students’ Union Executive Council and the Students’ Representative Council were later suspended, and this led to the beginning of a new movement—the struggle for the reinstatement of the Students’ Union.
The average Uite might believe that the ‘Patriotic Intelligentsia’ is an ideology, existing only in the abstract realm, but such belief is not true, as there is more to it. The Patriotic Intelligentsia should not be compared to Huntersola’s Redemption Agenda, which was more of an ideology which was to guide the activities of the Huntersola led administration. The ‘Patriotic Intelligentsia’ is a team, comprised of students, which according to a member, Phillip Olatinwon, are patriotic and intelligent and according to another, Temitope Gideon (Temmy Gista), are ready to assist in promoting the welfare of students on campus. Some members see it as a movement while others have likened it to a political party. In all, Ojo Aderemi, the Convener of the team, consults this team most times before making final decisions on several cases. And it was believed in some quarters that this team was even more relevant and powerful than the duly elected executives of the suspended Students’ Union.
However, the public outburst made on one of the very influential whatsapp groups, which comprised of students leaders in several spheres and some alumni, had shown that some members of the Council and some members of the Team have felt a huge sense of betrayal from the President. Particularly, the House Secretary, Mr. Adeyinka Oluwanifemi (Niffi); Assistant General Secretary (Koro); the Public Relations Officer, Olasunkami Usman Rational (Rational), of the Executive Council as well as Mr. Phillip Olatinwon of the Patriotic Intelligentsia team, were those who publicly expressed their grievances. While I invited all parties involved in the outburst for special interviews, not all granted my request, but some did.
In the words of Phillip Olatinwon, “what led to the public outburst on the WhatsApp page was as a result of things that occurred during the struggle which happened as a result of some errors from the leadership of the Union and these errors were not properly managed. The errors became unbearable when the last Press release came out. I have nothing against the Press release but I have a problem with the way the decision was made, how snappy it was. A lot of things had happened before in which we were trying to manage internally but it got to a point where we could no longer take such and that is why you see some of the executive council members expressing their grievances publicly. It was important for me to also express myself.”
“The problem I have with the release is that such decisions should have been made by the majority because during the campaign, one of the pillars that we had was that decisions were going to be made by students. If that is what we stand for then the decisions of majority should not be made by the minority”, he said. Phillip, who happens to be the right hand man of the President, described Ojo as a dishonest fellow, self promoter and a guru in the field of blackmailing. He said Ojo’s dishonesty is seen when collective decisions are thrown away for his opinion and stance to hold.
Rational, the Public Relations Officer of the Suspended Union, after questioning the votes that led to his emergence alleged that Ojo misplaced priorities when he visited the Lagos State University, to deliver a speech at a programme organised by the ASUU branch of LASU, at the expense of a meeting with the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, for the purpose of self glorification. Niffi and Koro also followed the line of questioning their votes they got at the poll, after which they condemned the President on the basis that their opinion at the level of the Union have never ‘held water’.
So according to the claims, it appears that Ojo had been using both the team and the Council in pushing his ideas and plans and making them appear like collective decisions, thus, promoting his image while fueling hate feelings from both end. According to Phillip, “the executives used to believe that their decisions were not welcome since the President of the Union makes the decision from the angle of the Patriotic Intelligentsia, whereas it is not. The same way the executive members are lamenting internally, the same way the members of the Patriotic Intelligentsia team. To us, it was as if it was the executive council that was making the decisions and to the Executive Council, it was like it was the Patriotic Intelligentsia. So he was blackmailing us from each end.”
During the outburst, it was alleged by the Public Relations Officer, Rational, that a meeting which could have led to the reinstatement and granted the demands of the Union was arranged with the Vice Chancellor. He claimed that Ojo has misplaced priorities as he abandoned his responsibilities as President of the Union (suspended) to cater for his personal business. The allegation has questioned the sincerity, priority and motives behind the actions of Ojo, since the period was when Ojo travelled to Lagos to deliver a speech at an event organised by the ASUU branch of LASU. This claim justifies the argument of the aggrieved members of the Council and Team that Ojo’s involvement in the struggle was for not totally for the benefits of students, but to buy a space for himself in public discourse.
Although, members of the Patriotic Intelligentsia had disclaimed this, as Temitope Gideon (Temmy Gista) said that there was never a scheduled meeting with the Vice Chancellor. Phillip also attested to the claim of Gista, stating that there was only a suggestion which they got from a member of the Senate. Phillip said that while Ojo suggested it on the group of the Executive Council, he failed to respond to the suggestions of the Council members for about 72 hours, leaving the Council members with the belief that the meeting was already scheduled. Temmy Gista asserted that what happened was simply miscommunication.
However, it appears that aside from the diplomatic interventions from members of ASUU chapter in the University of Ibadan and the intervention of the Lagos and Abuja branches of the University of Ibadan Alumni Association (UIAA), Ojo personally has never stretched out to dialogue with the Vice Chancellor based on the demands of the Union as well as its reinstatement. This has granted a sense of justification to the claim among students that he (Ojo) is in a clash of ego with the Vice Chancellor, which makes him rigid on most of his decisions.
A good leader is a team player, by this, he acts based on the collective decisions of the Council members and gives credit, not to himself but the Council as a whole. But does Ojo give credit to his Council members as due? There is no constitutional violation in this regards but a moral one. It has been gathered that some members of the executive Council are displeased with the frequent act of the President, which is mostly to belittle the efforts of the Council members. As gathered, this constitutes another reason for the public outburst. Personally, I could remember during the Press Conference in which was called by the Executive Council and attended by Pressmen on Campus, the Vice President of the Union, Miss Akanni Olamide, had asked me why the Union of Campus Journalists failed to invite her for the Press conference, which translates that she was never aware of the Press Conference in which ‘they’ organised. This is a flaw on the path of Ojo led executive council, as it appears that Ojo has been involved in activities in which even the members of the executive council in some cases are not aware of. Moreover, since the Executive Council, the Patriotic Intelligentsia and the Democratic Socialist Movement are different groups of consultation for Ojo, relying on the opinion of one may be bad choice for him.
The reality is that the suspended Students’ Union will be reinstated, but the question is when? As it appears, the strategy of lobbying is being adopted by the leadership, in partnership with the Council of Faculty Presidents and Hall Chairpersons. Since Ojo wished Uites success in their examinations, indicating that the struggle has come to an end, the only means to getting back the Union is to plead with the appropriate authorities. The diplomacy in which Ojo seem not to be aligned with in practical sense and the lobbying which was previously seen as a ‘no way’ is now the only way to getting back our dear Union. According to a reliable source, work is ongoing towards ensuring that the Union is reinstated as soon as possible, as a meeting with the Vice Chancellor was held on Friday.
While I must note that Ojo has been on top of his game, upholding the resolution of the Congress and giving his best for the promotion of students’ welfare in the University, it must also be noted that allowing a matter between the Executive Council come into public discourse is a big slap on his face as a patriotic and intelligent leader. Ojo must learn to be flexible in his actions especially in a case the Students’ Union has been handicapped. He must learn not only to carry members of the executive council along in decision making but also prioritize their opinions at the expense of any other group. Ojo must ensure a better relationship with the arm of the Students’ Representatives Council and must ensure sincerity in all his doings. Above all, the Union must be reinstated by any means.
But this is only the beginning, there are still a lot of stories, untold.Please Follow Us @ThePageNg