OAU students had to wait four years for new student leaders; now the wait continues for their inauguration

NEWS DIGEST – The management of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, has refused to approve the swearing in of newly elected students’ union officers and council officers nearly five months after elections held into several offices.

The elections, coordinated between August 26 and September 2, were particularly a thing of joy to students of the university after more than four years of proscription of the students’ union by the University authorities.

Back in 2017, the university placed an indefinite suspension on union activities that would hold until April, 2021 on the account of “incessant fighting and unruly behaviour” within the union.

There has been keen disappointment among students that their votes were yet to be honoured after trooping out in mass for the first time in four years to perform their franchise.

According to the election timetable, elected officers were expected to get sworn in to their respective offices after the rain semester examinations of the 2019/2020 academic session.

That rain semester was delayed by the death of Aishat Adesina, who students said died from the negligence of workers at the university health centre where she was being treated. Because there was a protest on campus, the university was forced to close the school for weeks, prolonging the semester even further until November 5.

Upon resumption, the panel set to investigate the protest insisted on an extensive training on leadership skills, crisis prevention and management for the new student leaders.

The student leaders took an objection

The central executive council explained that the leadership training had already been planned for the swearing-in programme and the panel’s recommendation was “like a repetition.”

“The October 1st protest is obviously playing a huge role in the delay of the inauguration of the Union officers,” said a member, who asked to speak on anonymity. “I believe the members of electoral commission are working with the management and the inauguration might take place soon,” he said.

Members of HEC, CEC and the SRC have noted to News Digest a lack of communication from the management on the significance of the leadership training to their inauguration.

The Students’ Representatives Council described the continuous delay of elected officers’ inauguration as a “saddened period” in the university. The SRC revealed that the electoral commission had been in charge of the union while the new union officers await inauguration. They add that they are doing the most to facilitate the inauguration.

“All things being equal, inauguration may be as soon as we can think of,” the council said.

A representative within the council, Hon Omowumi Ewatee, who represents the faculty of Education Consistency, said the delay was to be expected since the inauguration would be done by the same senate that proscribed the union the last four years.

Hon Ewatee added that the constitution of the union allows a former speaker of the union the authority to inaugurate elected officers should the vice-chancellor of the university make himself unavailable.

At that, she said the electoral commission have acted like puppies before the management for failing to consider their options given there is another.

The SRC has told News Digest it does not expect the leadership training to pose a problem to interactions with the management on inauguration. Instead, it is open to the training and other programmes that would improve the union.

On December 21, 2021, Abass Opeyemi, a member of the electoral commission, took the surprising decision to resign his service to the commission. Abass, known as Bazzman, said his duty to the electoral commission which was to conduct a free and fair election was done.

“However, I want to use this channel to also call for the immediate inauguration of the elected students Union officers as they already of a mandates of the generality of Great Ife Students, waiting to be fulfilled,” he said.

Nearly a month after, students continue to wait for student leaders to assume their offices and begin the mandates for which they were elected.