To say that our famed institution is a model version of the federal republic of Nigeria would not be an understatement. It is filled with enough drama that could not be imagined to occur in an environment so small. And that’s not all, it is filled with power plays that would even impress the famous cunning characters from the popular fantasy drama, ‘A Game of Thrones.’
A world of chains woven around deceit, greed and excessive lust for power, stretched-out to entangle both the involved and the oblivious. Simply put, you don’t have to be involved in this form of politics before the effects seep towards you. While this is toxic, it’s not entirely the issue, in the end, politics is a way of life. Even, it is as old as life itself, and despite everything, one would grow old to play these games. However, in The Polytechnic, it has grown from just hypocrisy to blatant shamelessness.
When the simple rule of law is being flaunted in a democratic constitutional political structure where Students’ Leaders are elected by the students, for the students and, of course, from amongst the students one needs to take a closer look. Truly, one would expect more compassion from Students’ Leaders as they are also students and they face the common problems students face and should tackle these with utmost enthusiasm. But, it’s all mostly selfish pursuance of personal interests from these students’ politicians whose personal gains are often at the detriment of the common students.
Like a normal constitutional obligation that there is in a well-structured democratic government, the populace pays tax. This is a simple analogy that can be likened to the students paying the SUG Fee, (a sum of five hundred naira only) now this is legitimate as all legalities goes, and at a first look the amount looks harmless. But at a second look, one would find that the earlier thought cheap fee would sum up to an eight-figured amount once the number of students paying (total number students of TPI is a little over thirty thousand) is taken into consideration.
Now its labelled as SUG fee, nevertheless, it’sstill public fund. It’s the students’ money and they are entitled to the breakdown of how it’s been spent. In plain terms, this money does not belong to the Students’ Union to do as they see fit without accountability. It is just like a citizen of Nigeria is entitled to the proceedings of the budget hearing at the national assembly which is always an open hearing. And since two hundred million Nigerians cannot be inside the National Assembly at a given time, the administrators allow the gentlemen and ladies of the Press into the House. After all, they are the quickest link to the people. That also should apply in this setting.
Back to TPI where the Press is regarded as persona non granta by both the management and Students’ Leaders, we are often disregarded critical information that adversely affects the students in general, this is often disappointing, yet we still owe it to the populace (Students) to preach trust, be rigidly just and fight earnestly for freedom so that the truth can prevail. Dishonest people hate the truth, and because of that, that hate is transferred to the advocates of truth, and because of that, everything is done in hush tones by these politicians. To buttress the point of hate, a principal officer among the editorial board was battered on orders of a prominent student leader simply because, ‘In truth, the Press outmanoeuvred the scheme of certain selfish leaders who intend to hijack the students’ protest for personal gains. These move won victory for the students for a war that has been fought since 2016. This achieved without even sitting down to plan.’ I recall a statement from that protest. “I will never sell my mandate for money.” Is that even true?
Since this isn’t a feature for self-gratification, it is of essence that I return to the point. During the budget hearing of this Union administration. No one was informed, and ever since nothing has been heard. It is worth note that if not for the global pandemic, all regime should have ended, why then has the budget not been made public, passed, implemented and even exhausted and accounted for. I have a theory, both arms of the government are involved in some controversial politicking (this is not hard to believe as it’s the same union members that are infamous penchants for fighting publicly).
Now, I’ve never been good at mathematics but with our earlier calculation of the SUG fee (500) multiplied by the number of estimated students (30,000) will give a sum of fifteen million naira (N15,000,000) and that’s supposing all students pay this fee which is neigh impossible. I really cannot wrap my head around why the expenditure is twice the revenue, I understand that the Students’ Union can source for funds through other means but who would give them another fifteen million naira (N15,000,000). Whatever they have planned either spells foul play or straight-up incompetence, irresponsibility, and incapability.
I say again, the Students’ Union fee is public fund and by virtue of that, its account has to be made public for the sake of transparency and accountability. Therefore, it would only be honourable that copies of the budget be made public by any means necessary.
It is a bit unprofessional that someone that vied for office under the pretence of capability, transparency and honesty would not know what his/her job entails. This is the beginning of the rot, and it has been quite disappointing seeing the SUG continually embarrass the institution by lavishing the hard-earned tax-payers (students) money on programmes that brings no positive value to the students academically. The Polytechnic, Ibadan depends solely on the Junior Chambers International (JCI) for its only pro-academics competition (The Asiwaju Inter-Faculty Speech Contest). Meanwhile the Union intend to hold an award night… on what merit? I will not get you all started on the many irrelevances that would be deducted from the students’ money even without a passed budget! Talk about gross misconduct!
This misconduct takes a process; one of the independent officers demands for funds for his supposed great project’. This is tabled to the president who either approves or reject it. In this context, he approves it, this is then relayed to the General Secretary. In a sane clime, the general secretary is supposed to reject any spending that is unconstitutional (i.e. not approved by the house in the absence of a budget). Let’s assume that the secretary caves in too, it finally falls down to the treasurer. Now here is where it gets funny, I am of the opinion that the most cautious in an organisation is supposed to be last key to the vault. As they can be indicted by a slight deviance from what is constitutionally allowed. But the union building, birds of a feather…
All these is not lost to the students who have now found a new reason to loathe the union. Apparently, the Union had taken one thing that the students enjoyed the most in their past protest, the internet access. Students have complained bitterly, earlier under the wrong impression that it was the managements doing. Alas, on discovering that this was at the demand of the Students’ Leaders, who were acting rashly without having the best interest of the students’, things have turned sideways. Talk about self-destruct!
Regardless, one cannot completely blame the executives for the exuberance, when there is suppose to be check and balances, the institution’s editorial board has taken a stand that has been met with acrid stance by the union and one fateful one resulted in the assault of one of the board’s member. Then there’s SRC whose motives are yet to be defined. Why exactly has the budget not been passed? Are the SRC puppets of SUE? I mean how can anyone take you seriously when your last congress was far back in March 17th? Yes, a whooping nine-month recess! They could hide under the guise of COVID-19, but it’s been almost three months of resumption and yet our senators are merry-go-rounding doing the lord’s work.
This is shame. And we, the students, demand changes as the new semester is ushered in, we demand transparency, accountability and justice from all responsible quarters. We also beseech the management to investigate these gross misconduct and malpractices by the Students’ Union before it completely taints the reputation of our institution, The Polytechnic, Ibadan.