Unionism as we’ll all agree is something that has existed for as long as we can remember. To every institution, group of people with same interest, etc there are specific unions that have been created and with the sole aim of fighting for and protecting the interests of its member.
In all institutions of higher learning in Nigeria, there are many student unions existing in different forms and Federal University Otuoke is not an exception. Here, we have the mother of all unions, the student union government, the faculty associations, departmental associations, cultural associations, etc but for the sake of this article, I’ll be concentrating more on the student union government of FUO.
If you are a student of FUO or you’ve been following the trend of events in this school, you’ll agree with me that the student union government of this great citadel of learning has encountered some ups and downs. After being established in 2011, the school ran without a student union government despite the fact that students paid student union fees (that’s a topic for another day).
In a bid to be like other, the pioneer students, with the approval of the school management, successfully established a union in 2015 and it was led by Comr. Stephen Akariwa, though it was tagged “student union executives.” This union was supposed to last for a period of one academic session but ended up lasting in office for a session and half.
The Millow led administration was sworn into office in June 12, 2017 after a free and fair election and the union was rebranded and made the “Student Union Government”. On that very day, the Vice Chancellor Prof. Seth A. Jaja categorically made is clear that this new executives are to stay in office for the period of the second semester only after which they shall conduct an election for new executives, this was to bring balance between the union’s activities and the school calendar.
Just as the saying goes, “it’s easier said than done”. The Millow led administration stayed more than the stipulated time in power just as his predecessor, Stephen. Power intoxicates, absolute power intoxicates absolutely! This was due to his refusal to stay in power without completing his tenure.
The school management has to give an ultimatum for his relinquishing of power to a new executive. It was a torque of war because the school management was out to balance THIS SAME CALENDAR by inaugurating a caretaker committee but the current or would be 400 level students kicked against it as it was depriving them of what’s due to them, the Union’s leadership but then the management won the battle and a caretaker government was inaugurated.
The inauguration of the student union caretaker committee led to the dissolution of all forms of unionism in Federal University Otuoke and suspension of the Union’s constitution as well. All faculties and departments were asked to select their committee members who would be in charge of their unions pending when proper election will be carried out, with the condition that no committee member will partake in the up coming student union elections.
The Student union caretaker committee has been saddled with the responsibility of conducting a free and fair election that will bring in new Student Union Government executives who will assume office by the beginning of the 2018/2019 academic session and leave by its end. As we look forward to the resumption of the new academic session, we await patiently for the flow of events as the political power brokers in FUO are already making plans, political permutation and running underground campaigns.
But, the big question here is, will the caretaker committee leave office as proposed or will they like to clinch on to power till second semester? IF they do, what will the reaction of the school management be like; will they force them out or ignore them just like they’ve always done previously? Well, time shall tell.
Even as we await still, I would not leave you with the impression that I forgot to write about the way the school management has been handling the funds of our dear union by robbing Peter to pay Paul. Well, with the recent granting of account autonomy to the union by the management (thanks to Millow & his excos for their efforts), we wish and pray that they keep to their words and help this baby union grow, even as they release all our funds in their custody.
I wish to end this write up by acknowledging the contributions of student, both past and present that has contributed positively to the growth of our Student Union. Though the union is still young, we need to know that her growth depends on the foundation we lay today, it either grows to be a weakling and timid union or a dogged and agile one.
By: Royal Stranger