I thank those colleagues who wrote and circulated that analytical handout on my profile. I own, without any sense of flamboyance, everything said about me in that release. Thanks once again.
PREAMBLE: This is not an hour of illusive and self-deceiving rhetoric. Rather, this is a time of dispassionate and realistic reappraisal of our dilemma. Students’ Unionism in UNILAG is at the crossroad and this is the moment of decision. Decision as to whether we should succumb completely to the calculated odds and pressures now devastating us or whether we should bravely muster together our tattered and battered forces and emancipate ourselves.
I repeat, this is the hour of decision, and should we deliberately refuse to give serious attention to the gradual but consistent erosion and corrosion of student power, in this country in general UNILAG in particular, the immensity and enormity of our transgression will remain indelible in the logbook of history for posterity to mock and condemn.
In this brief dissertation, I intend to analyze those barriers militating against the realization of our objectives, yearnings and aspirations. I intend to convince you that I am, with your formidable support, capable of demolishing such hazards and finally I intend to let you into the orientation of my proposed administration if I succeed in winning your mandate.
BARRIERS AGAINST STUDENT’ ASPIRATIONS.
Without mincing words, colleagues and comrades, our first hazard, our number one barrier against the realization of our aspirations ironically enough, is OURSELVES. (Sorry to be blunt but I’ve got to) This is made manifest by our refusal to come together “to bury our hatchet in the head of our common enemy.” We dissipate our energies on insignificant sectional sentiments and ethnic loyalties. Our dogs trouble one another under the menace of wolves. United we stand, divided we fall; says a maxim.
The next barrier is the Ivory Tower administration with its concomitant bureaucratic protocol and officious redtapism. For example, is it not an oxymoron of life that we live in scarcity amidst plenty in UNILAG? There is land, yet accommodation shortage is our perennial headache. The whole campus is littered with vehicles and no shortage of kitchen staff intermittently quoting instances of such unjustifiable inconsistencies.
Is it not an exemplary demonstration of real democracy that the five thousand plus students of this University have no say in the policy-making and decision-taking processes of our own affairs? Yet it is vice versa. What an irony of life.
Very recently, specifically during the last session, another powerful barrier emerged— the almighty force of the Federal Government. We here have not been fortunate enough to taste the bitterleaf soup but the Universities of Benin, Calabar and Port-Harcourt have. The death that kills our colleague is being proverbial to us to be alert.
WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR LEADERSHIP STATUS?
How do I consider myself capable of leading the crusade? This is, perhaps, where my past records of leadership come in. I am no longer a novice in the arena of students’ politics just as a twenty-year old corpse is no more a stranger to the grave.
I was the Secretary and President respectively of the Adeyemi College Students’ Union between 1972 and 1973. I was leader of Adeyemi College delegation to the 16th Annual Convention of the National Union of Nigerian Students (NUNS) which took place at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
I was a member of the Nigerian delegation to the first All African Students Union (AASU) Conference which took place in the University of Science and Technology (UST) Kumasi, Ghana. I have a “Certificate of Honour” granted by the NUNS to attest to my involvement in students’ activism.
WHAT ABOUT IN UNILAG? Since I got to UNILAG, I have been effectively vocal on a number of topical episodes. I am a campus journalist a regular columnist in two campus magazines and the editor of another – the COMBAT. I believe strongly in the power of the pen. I was a member of the UNILAG delegation to the 29th Annual Convention of the National Union of Nigerian Students (NUNS) held in the Enugu Campus of University of Nigeria. Delegates will tell you that I virtually led the contingent.
All through my life, I have never sacrificed nor compromised principles on the platter of privilege and I am determined never to. There are hosts of living witnesses right here in this very campus to bear eloquent testimonies to all these claims.
O.K. GRANTED THE MANDATE, HOW WOULD YOU UTILISE THE POWER? The mandate of over five thousand university students is not on ordinary mandate; it is the mandate of dynamics: this is going to be the weapon and instrument of office with which I would struggle and battle for the realization of students aspirations.
To begin with, I intend to coordinate the realistic manifestoes of my colleagues in the ULSU Executive for harmonized implementation. I believe in collective responsibility without losing sight of individual accountability, I intend to set up on administration that will operate on a four dimensional basis – domestic, national, continental and global. Let me give a brief breakdown.
The Domestic Policy: I will focus priority attention on internal welfare of students ranging across accommodation, transportation, lecture room facilities, recreations, representation in the senate, relationships etc. I am particularly going all out to convince the University authorities to see and regard students as partners in progress in the context of university administration and development.
The National Policy of my administration will give militant support to the Federal Government when it embarks on revolutionary measures with regards to the total (political, economic and ideological) emancipation of the continent especially the remaining areas still under colonial bondage in South Africa (Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Soweto, Namibia etc)
My administration will also pressurize the Government whenever it is becoming unduly lukewarm in its commitment to the progressive Liberation Movements. We will also organize an Operation Know Your Continent.
The Global Policy: Will seek avenue for effective social and academic interaction between UNILAG Students and their counterparts in the other parts of the globe through Visit Exchange Programs. This will enable an average UNILAGER see himself not only as a student of Nigeria and Africa but also as a student of the world.
STUDENTS PROTESTS (NOT UNREST): I should make my stand categorically clear, without any dilly-daily or reactionary compromise, my views on students’ protests often times wrongly referred to as students’ unrests. This is a very sensitive issue and my administration will always give it all the reasons, objectivity and dispassionateness befitting such an issue.
Like Heraclitus, the famous Greek political philosopher once said and I paraphrase “The day a society stops to protest, that day marks the beginning of the end of progress in that society”. What my administration will ensure is the avoidance of any protest we cannot reasonably afford. All negotiation avenues – dialogues, détente etc. – will be entered into and protest will always be the last resort.
If and when a protest becomes inevitable, a disciplined and systematic approach will be engaged. What my administration may not be able to guarantee is a crisis-free session as this may be tantamount to predicting the unpredictable nature of man. Our actions will always be reactions to the actions of the power – that – be. We shall always reciprocate reasonable and considerate gestures with identical gestures.
FINALLY COLLEAGUES: It is my submission that UNILAG Students’ Union needs a clear sense of direction in political awareness and ideological orientation in order to justify the “future leadership” status which we are, by right, entitled to.
THIS IS MY CASE, JUDGE ME!
Your vote is power
Don’t blunder your ballot
Cast it on principle
Slot it for SEGUN OKEOWO
Thanks for giving me the audience
SEGUN MAIKEL OKEOWO (English Part II)