LASU STUDENTS UNION ELECTION: Management and Electoral Commission Must Respect the Order of Electora
LASU STUDENTS UNION ELECTION: Management and Electoral Commission Must Respect the Order of Electoral Tribunal
- For Independent Students Unionism Without Management’s Interference
By Wole Olubanji National Mobilisation Officer, ERC
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) condemns the role of management of the Lagos State University (LASU) in the last elections of the Lagos State University Students Union (LASUSU) and subsequently after.
The Lagos State University Students Union (LASUSU) elections held on 27 February 2019. Voting was conducted via electronic means at the faculties and campuses of the University. Unfortunately, the election was marred by several technical hitches and irregularities which led to a situation whereby voting started late in almost all faculties while eligible voters in a number of faculties were unable to vote by late afternoon when voting ought to have ended in line with the election guidelines. This prompted a presidential candidate, who is as a member of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC), Comrade Yusuf Nurudeen Alowonle (a.k.a Omomeewa) alongside two other presidential candidates to lodge a complaint with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) requesting that elections be concluded next day in those faculties where these anomalies had substantially affected participation of eligible voters in the election.
This the IEC agreed to and in an official statement following the February 27 elections, the IEC admitted that the election was inconclusive and supplementary election would be conducted. At a meeting with aggrieved presidential candidates a few days after, the IEC complained of lack of cooperation from the Division to Students Affairs in terms of logistics to conduct a supplementary election. Then following weeks of silence, the IEC turned around to amend its position and declared Oladele Oluwatayo Olawale Oladelz as the validly elected 29th LASUSU president.
Comrade Omomeewa, who is the Lagos State Coordinator of the ERC polled about 553 votes just coming a little behind the declared candidate, Ola Delz who polled 612. However as at the time these votes were collated, a number of faculties include Education where Omomeewa is a student were unable to vote because of the glitch in the electronic voting system. It is instructive to note that out of over 15, 000 eligible voters, only 2,131 students were able to vote.
Following the official declaration of the results, the Division of Students Affairs set the date for inauguration for 27 March 2019. This was in spite of a subsisting order of the LASUSU Election Petition Tribunal which had asked all parties to maintain the status quo. In fact the day on which the Election Petition Tribunal fixed to deliver judgment on the substantive suit was the day set aside by the management to inaugurate the newly-elected union leadership in flagrant disrespect of subsisting order and a clear indication that it was not ready to respect the opinion of the tribunal. Despite this, the tribunal went ahead to deliver its judgment which in all ramifications nullified the presidential elections held on 27 February 2019 and called for a new elections in seven (7) days. Despite having been served this judgment, the management and the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) made no effort to obey it till the expiration of the seven (7) days ultimatum.
This litany of undemocratic actions taken by the management which includes condoning the disenfranchisement of a majority of eligible voters in the election and colluding to violate orders and judgment of the election petition tribunal is not expected of a university led by a Professor of Law as Vice Chancellor. Moreso these undemocratic actions show that despite the subsistence of civil rule since 1999, despotism and the undermining of democratic rights reminiscent of the dark days of jackboot authoritarianism still flourish in the university system.
We call on the management of Lagos State University (LASUSU) and the student union’s electoral commission to make amends starting from respecting the March 27, 2019 judgment of the Election Petition tribunal and laying down the framework for the restoration of unity in the ranks of the union and the respect of its independence. Not doing this and going further to witch-hunt or victimize those students who challenged the undemocratic conducts of the University could only further escalate the emerging crisis.