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Wednesday, 12 April 2017

EFIWE ARTICLE: Setting The Records Straight; The Narrative Of An Eye Witness

Some weeks ago, while I was away from this shore, I had thought of spending my leisure on writing about “Stratagem and Intelligence Gathering: the Bedrock of True Students’ Leadership”.

 But again, I considered that not a topic for public consumption, perhaps, because overtime, the student populace has shown disinterest in matters such as this. Interested student leaders may learn from the discourses on this topic at varying times.

I have decided, however, to write shortly on the controversy hunting the UI SU election scene. Over the last few days, since the electioneering process began at Ibadan; my alma matter, I have observed, with keen interest, the different narratives told by fellows of different sorts, some; sincerely ignorant, others; sincere but ignorant. I learnt that the ban on campaigns has been lifted, and the logistics are already set to usher in a new set of leaders into Kunle Adepeju Building. And ‘based on logistics’, political wrestlers have begun their throes and tacts.

While I have no direct stake in the elections, as whichever candidate is elected is done so at the expense or advantage of the electorate; the mass of studentry, a society which I no longer belong, I wish however to set straight the records, which some mischief-makers have decided to twist. Recently, I overheard some petty folks mumbling up all sorts of derisions about Ojo Aderemi, a friend and Presidential aspirant in the ongoing UI Students’ Union elections. Some say: “How will Uites elect an inexperienced 200 Level student as their leader?’’, others moan “ Ojo Aderemi has only been in UI for less than two years, what does he know?”.

The issues above give me strong concern. I still can afford my hours of sound sleep though, but my mind wonders on, and wanders too because of, the shallowness of this generation of youths, who are quick to make assertions without investigating. Decency requires that one takes such persons through the school of history. Let me be quick to say that despite the fact that Ojo Aderemi is a close friend and confidant, with whom I  began my sojourn at the Ivory Towers, and despite the fact that I support his candidacy, I would not have put up this “apologia”, but for the hatred I harbour for unfounded rumours, I must do this. To be fair, I must!

True, Ojo Aderemi is currently a 200 Level student of History in the University of Ibadan. But what is unknown to (perhaps deliberately denied by) most is that Aderemi has spent about five (5) years so far in the University of Ibadan; three (3) years as a Diploma student of History and International Relations Department (where he graduated as the best of his class), and two (2) years as a “degree” student of History; a cause he is still diligently into. May he graduate well!  By logical implication, Aderemi can only be a colleague with those currently in their fifth (5th) year. Pity affects me, when I hear  those who have not had studentship statuses in the University of Ibadan, let alone know a thing about UI SU, as at the time Ojo Aderemi began students’ advocacy right from his first (1st) year as a diploma student, but are now in their third (3rd) or fourth (4th) year, say all sorts of things, placing themselves on a flimsy facade of being “elders” to Aderemi , afterall to them: Aderemi is just a second year student.

Even amidst those with whom we are both colleagues, Aderemi ranks as an unequalled figure of intellection and intellectuality. Despite the accolades given me in Arts Literary & Debating Society ( I humbly recognize this in due honour), where I in company of Temmy Gista ( then President of Arts L & D,and a gallant member of The 3 Musketeers) and other senior colleagues ( I save their names) brought victory to the Faculty of Arts by winning Jaw War 2014, many will be surprised to know that Ojo Aderemi till today in history did more than I did in the early days of the society. How amazing and incredible! Right? On various occasions, when the society was just resuscitated, Ojo represented Faculty of Arts in different debate bilaterals when folks like me were still at the end of the queue, waiting to speak.

Some two (2) to three (3) years ago, when we both interned with African Newspapers of Nigeria Ltd, Ibadan ( the publisher of Nigerian Tribune), every day at work, I learnt from Aderemi’s skillful and ingenious  art of journalism. He was also a diligent man. At the time, he was writing his Long Essay as a final year diploma student, yet his contributions at work were consistent and unwavering, surpassing what one could have expected. Another young man, whom I extolled ( and still do) in much honour because of his passion for journalism is Kanyinsola Olorunisola ( the current Editor-in-Chief of Indy Hall Press and columnist of The Courtroom, UCJ UI). We all interned together at the time. This was around the same time Ojo Aderemi was serving as the Political Editor of the UCJ, member AFAS Press, and Editor-In-Chief of My School Podcast blog (I enjoyed the series then, thanks to Samuel Adeoye, the founder), all together . What a man of multiple abilities!

 Those who today refer to my commitment to youth advocacy and civic leadership, with some notable feats in same, do not know the Genesis of it all. About three (3) to four (4) years ago, when I just joined All Nigeria United Nations Students’ and Youths’ Association (ANUNSA) UI, Aderemi was then serving as the Director of Communications of the association for the second time. It was from him I learnt the fundamental ideals of international diplomacy and development work. I watched with awe the diligence this young man employed in his duties. I looked up to each General Assembly because Ojo would be there to speak on global trends. Those who are now the Generals of ANUNSA can never forget Aderemi in this regard.

 I cannot talk about my “adventure” into UI SU leadership without a revered reference to Aderemi, a member of The Three Musketeers. At the time, Aderemi, Temmy Gista and I were a team of highly ideological young men who wanted a change in the way student polity of the day was being run. Partly, it was the motivation got and lessons learnt from our fellowship that spurred me into contesting a position in the UI Students’ Union elections of 2015. The story remains incomplete, if I fail to talk of the immense support Aderemi gave to my office as the P.R.O of the Union then. It was he who engineered and road-mapped the resuscitation of the Students’ Union Press Club (SUPC) during my administration, after it had been moribund for about three (3) years. Amidst serving as the Editor-In-Chief of the SUPC, Aderemi gave countless interventions and immense support to the Illuminating Changes tenure of the Union.

Ojo has had enough experiences to qualify him more than enough to contest and get elected as the President of UI SU. He has prepared himself with the ideological, intellectual and experiential endeavours needed to pilot the affairs of the Union.

The undeniable truth is that the level of study matters less as to what a candidate can offer when it comes to students’ leadership. The only prohibition given for the level of study is provided for in the Students’ Union constitution; being that only first year and final year students cannot contest positions in the UI Students’ Union.

 Aderemi has seen the back and forth when it comes to students’ unionism, he is not a “no-well-to-do” seeking green pastures in Kunle Adepeju Building and beseeching folks with pecuniary offers just to get elected. We know these assuagers, and they must not be given any chance in the Union. The Aderemi I know is too sound and well brought than to do that. He cannot ‘monetize’ this affair. In fact, he abhors such corruption, that is now being embraced by some student looters; models of Nigerian politicians. 

Those who peddle such propaganda against Aderemi have forgotten, or rather, they do not know that the great sage, Egbon Plato ( as we fondly call him) got elected as the Hall Chairman of the Great Nnamdi Azikiwe Hall in his 200L days. He ruled the Hall in his third (3rd) year. Posterity will never forget how he gallantly fought for the rights of students. We still make reference to him till today. Some of those who parade themselves as fourth (4th) year students today cannot near the ‘elephant’s head’ of Egbon Plato’s achievements, even as a third (3rd) year student. May God bless his years. 

Finally, let us set at one kobo, the mockery of mendacious fellows and blandishers; for they know not history, neither does history know them.  

Verbos Dicenda. Words must be spoken!

Based on logistics, I have to stop here.

                                                                      Ayantola Alayande,
Ibadan, Nigeria.

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