UI STUDENTS’ UNION ELECTIONS: DSM COMRADE POLLS 2458 VOTES ON THE BASIS OF RADICAL PROGRMME FOR AN I
UI STUDENTS’ UNION ELECTIONS: DSM COMRADE POLLS 2458 VOTES ON THE BASIS OF RADICAL PROGRMME FOR AN INDEPENDENT STUDENTS UNIONISM.
It is indeed a political victory for members, sympathizers and political collaborators of Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) going by the result of the just concluded student union election held at the University of Ibadan on the 12th July 2014. The UI branch of DSM presented one of its members, Comrade Olawuni Mustapha, to contest for the position of the students’ union president.
Based on the result declared by the electoral committee, Comrade Mustapha polled a total of 2,458 votes hence the runner up to the winner, Mr Odeshola Victor, who recorded a total of 2,534 votes. The two other contestants for the position were John Adebanjo and Obeta Ameh who had 418 and 451 votes respectively.
It is worthy to note that Mustapha won in all the male halls except in Kuti hall where the winner resides. The halls are Nnamdi Azikwue; Independent, Mellamby, Amodu Bello and Tedall. However unfortunately he lost to Odeshola in all the female halls: Idia, Queen and Obafemi Awolowo. Going by the fact that currently the most radical and politically conscious students on the campus predominantly reside in male halls, particularly Nnamdi Azikwue and Independent halls, it obvious that the 2,458 persons who cast their votes for Mustapha are among the radical layers who endeared by his radical programmes for an independent students’ unionism among others.
Mustapha as a member of DSM with impressive record of active involvements and participations in the activities of the organization both at national and branch level was the only candidate whose campaign was genuinely anchored on a radical manifesto.
Notably among these radical programmes are: opening up of the union for a democratic involvement and participation of students in union activities like rallies, congresses, symposia etc ; campaign for free and qualitative public founded education at all levels; campaign against fees hike and education commercialization; defense and protection of students against all forms of academic and political victimization; campaign against neo-liberal policies and for nationalization of the commanding heights of the economy under the democratic control and management of the elected representatives of the working people, and more coherent working relationship between the students’ union and workers’ unions on campus.
The DSM election programme did not only influence the entire character and nature of the electioneering process but also to a large extent forced many candidates either for the position of President or other offices to adopt some radical slogans during their respective campaigns. In fact, at the manifesto night virtually all contestants were forced to come up with photocopies of a radical manifesto which was an attempt to copy the DSM election manifesto. Our manifesto printed in thousands was massively circulated among students during the campaign activities including campus round, tabling, public symposium organized by DSM, etc.
If taken into consideration the present decline in political and social consciousness of students of University of Ibadan which is a direct consequence of over ten years proscription of students’ union activities and complete domination of the leadership positions of the union by right wing layer of students since the restoration of the union four years ago, it is not a gainsaying that the 2,458 votes attracted by DSM radical programmes was indeed a tremendous political victory and basis for future activity.
The winner of the election, Odeshola, in addition to his publicly declared pro-establishment disposition, enjoyed supports from politicians who are interested in using the union for a self-serving agenda in the 2015 general election on campus; the University Management that needs a pliant and docile union leadership for a successful imposition of anti-students policies like fee hike and also Christian religious organizations.
This support for Odeshola was so apparent before and on the Election Day. For instance, no fewer than five different 18-sitter buses were given to Odeshola by both these politicians and Christian religious groups. These were used to convey some students, mostly female, who reside off-campus in Agbowo to the campus to participate in the election. These students were also reportedly induced with money by Odeshola’s campaign team.
In addition to this was a text message authored by and emanated from one Pastor Joel, the supposed spiritual leader of Assembly of University of Ibadan Christian Fellowship (AUCSF), urging all Christian students under a religious pretence to vote for Odeshola.
Going by all these backgrounds, it is clear that Mr Odesola electoral victory is going to be temporary triumph of lies, deceit, falsehoods and campaign of calumny over reality and truth. Besides, in the evening of the Sunday, 13th July 2014; there was a spontaneous mass agitation of no fewer than 300 students who reside largely in both Nnamdi Azikwe and Independent halls protesting against the circulation of the AUCSF text message on the day of election.
The argument is that going by the literary meaning of campaign, the text message in question was a form of campaign when the voting had already started. It was a violation of the rules and guideline of the election as contained in the 12th of June edition of the University Bulletin which stipulated that all campaign must stop on or before 9pm on the Friday, 11th July, 2014.
In view of this, there was a general clamour for a petition against this violation of electoral rule to be submitted to the election petition tribunal demanding the cancellation of the election while also calling for a re-run election.
This clamour was so intense to the extent that many Christian students who received the said message on their phone did not only express their willingness and readiness to serve as witnesses at the said tribunal but also prepared to present other evidences like audio and visual recording of how Mr. Odeshola’s agents were inducing students with money particularly in Awo, Idia and Queen halls.
Every attempt by DSM comrades to pacify the aggrieved students on the grounds that the idea of the proposed petition will not only amount to a mere distraction but also may give a wrong impression that DSM candidate is desperate of electoral victory, was completely rebuffed.
As a matter of fact the decision of DSM members, stemming from its meeting held immediately after the release of the outcome of the election was to organize a thank you rally across the halls of residence for the purpose of appreciating the 2458 persons who voted in support of our programmes during the election. In this same meeting, the idea of petition was generally discarded!
However, in the face of this kind of intense clamour, DSM members, after much debates conceded to the idea of the so called petition, though without any illusion it whatsoever. This compromise was made to purposely conserve the DSM’s political base among the most conscious layers of students and to guard against DSM comrades being perceived as rigid and radical phrase mongers.
As we write this report the petition had already been submitted while the response received during the thank you rally is once again an indication to the fact that students are quite receptive and supportive of the DSM radical programmes in the election.
The task ahead
Going by the enormous political gains recorded by DSM during this election, what should be the utmost task now is to continue organizing public activities like symposia, tabling, regular issuance and pasting of statements on the campus etc with a view to retain and deepen the fighting zeal of the 2,458 persons who voted for DSM’s radical programme for an independent student unionism and to reach out to convince those, particularly female students, who did not support us in this election to participate alongside us in future struggles.
As far as University of Ibadan Students’ Union is concerned today, the prevailing reality is that it is far from being independent from undue interference of the university management. This was very evident in the conduct of the just concluded student union elections. The members of the electoral committee were handpicked by the management and its chairman is part of the management staff, the Deputy Registrar of the Students’ Affair unit. The Chairman and the Secretary of the so called Election Petition Tribunal are the Dean of the Student Affair unit and the Deputy Registrar of the Student Affair respectively.
As a matter of fact, there was a serious disconnect between the electoral committee and mass of students throughout the electioneering period. There was no debate at the congresses and parliaments of students as to how the committee was constituted; requirement and funding for the election before the electioneering process started.
Reversing the management interference in the day to day running of the student union once again brings to the fore the campaign for independent student unions which must be linked with a campaign for adequate and proper funding of public education as well as against all neo-liberal policies of government at all levels
With apparently pro-establishment, pro-neo-liberal capitalist students that are presently dominating the leadership position it obvious that the students union will be incapable of initiating this kind of campaign except forced by a pressure from below from radical layer of students. This once has raised the question to the need to deepen the overall political consciousness of students through regular public enlightenment activities by left organizations like DSM in the coming period.
Finally, during this campaign 5,000copies of DSM leaflet, 12,000 copies of Election Manifesto and 1,000copies of postal were produced and circulated. In addition, campaign materials like bells (3); wit hews (12), megaphones (2), placards among others were also bought. Tabling, which is an organizing stall with DSM papers, literature, leaflet and campaign materials, was also organized at different times on campus to mobilize support for DSM candidate as well participation in the public symposium organized by DSM during the campaign period.
All together, 12 persons were recruited as new members of DSM throughout the period of campaign while copies of Socialist Democracy (SD) and of constitution/ manifesto of Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) were sold.
The total cost of running this campaign was N68, 400. This was raised from donations from DSM members within and outsides the campus as well as trade union organizations.