Some time ago, my department was put in the awkward position of choosing a new course rep few days to the commencement of exams, I sensed a wide range of invisible politics going on in the shadows, I was passive. Then someone raised up an opinion “if we go choose, make we choose one Igbo and one bayelsa”.
It touched me in places I thought I could never be touched, I was pissed. Why?! That someone in level 200, economics department that has paid N100k+ as school fees would still reason the same way as an uneducated political thug. We’re talking of someone who has done philosophy for two semesters, one who did “Nigerian peoples and culture” and is currently offering “Peace and conflict”.
Should ethnicity be a criteria for picking a student leader?
Even during the faculty election, I was accosted by two Igbo boys on separate occasions, guys who could tell that I’m from the Igbo tribe. They approached and engaged me in a conversation, talking to me in our dialect, trying to convince me into voting for someone because he is “our Igbo brother”.
Is your candidate really that incompetent that the only bargaining chip he possesses is his ethnicity? I thought we were the leaders of tomorrow. The most painful stereotype in this school is the opinion that no one other than a Bayelsan should be elected as the SUG President.
Not to mention the threats that students who had political ambitions faced before announcing their intentions. Or the stereotype that the Vice President and welfare positions are meant for the female gender. All these are issues for another day.
In estimation, I could say that 95% of students in this school are from southern Nigeria. Who have had the feeling of being shortchanged when it comes to national politics, with the north being in power mostly. Yet, we still harbour same twin belief concerning student politics.
On the day of the SUG elections, a married woman in my class requested to use my phone to cast her votes. I helped her input her details, and we started scrolling, her main concern was “Nezie, vote for any Bayelsa person”.
We would all act like we’ve never thought like that. But this is a BIG thing we’re all guilty of. When people mobilize on ethnic lines, it is not often for the good of the people, but people very often are made to believe that once they support the person from their ethnic group, they will get the benefits of power, which very often do not come to them. Ethnic segregation is another easy way to divide and conquer. With the ethnic group having the most population coming out victorious.
As is the case of Nigeria, with the north being in power most of the times. Making FG making policies that are infeasible, imagine building refineries in the north for oil that is in the south and building cattle ranches (RUGA) in the south for cattles in the north.
That’s what I call misplaced priorities. And if care is not taken, we could have a case of misplaced priorities in the SUG case. That’s why, I distanced myself from ethnic affiliations during the election period. I saw the evils of it.
This does not only apply to student politics, it applies to all spheres of life. Tribalism is a big sin.
Ethnic houses in this school are to be pointed out too. But that too would be another issue for another day. I leave you now with the opinion that, we’re young, we were once called leaders of tomorrow, but we’re no different from leaders of yesterdays. And if yesterday is the same as tomorrow, then what’s the incentive to wake up today and believe that tomorrow would be better?
I remain a conscious student in pointing out the evils in the inefficient system. I’m not from any tribe, not a citizen of Nigeria. But a citizen of the world.
Welcome back to school.
By Samuel Nezie
P.R.O – Nigeria Economics Students Association, FUO Chapter