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Monday, September 09, 2019

[ARTICLE] AAUASU ELECTION: The Other Way Round In Recent Times By Olufemi Damilola

In tertiary institutions across the country, there are times students of these institutions are given the right to elect their Students' Union leaders for a particular period of time.

The same is applicable to Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Students' Union (AAUASU) election. Students of the institution situated in Ondo State are assigned the right to elect their leaders into respective offices.

In recent times, the Students' Union election has elected persons regardless of  level (except for 100 level), department and faculty.

In situations where no disenfranchisement is placed on the electorates who are students of AAUA, the election result of any Students' Union contestant has never been up to 2,000 votes.
What is the implication of this?

It could be recalled that the 2016/17 and 2017/18 elections had a number of votes of over 1,000 out of over 15,000 students. Does this alone not call for urgent attention and review?

Taking a critical look at the recent and just concluded Students' Union election, out of all the past elections in the last four (4) years which were reported, read on media stations and National dailies, the reverse was the case of 2018/19 election as none of the Campus Journalists on campus dared to report the outcome following the very low turnout of students.

The recent election (2018/19) of the Students' Union had an average of about  400 votes to each aspirant.  Many saw it as a mystery while others took it as shocking.

It could be said that the 2018/19 election policies put in place disenfranchised many of the students, thereby depriving them of their rights to vote. One of policies and major policy used was to disenfranchise students who were yet to pay and complete their tuition.

The policy was taken as  inconvenient and saddening to many students as it was a time when the tuition fee was increased by over 500 percent.

Surprisingly, the aspirants/contestants of respective offices must have paid their tuition fee up to date before being shortlisted to run for such posts.

At the end of the election, the President elect had exactly 300 votes out of a population of about 16,000 students. Even at a time where there was no criteria or policy to electing Students' Union office holders, the election of the Students Union has not been encouraging. Of what other expectation should the result be when a policy is being put in place to disenfranchise students?

As another Students' Union election draws near, both the  electorates and the aspirants anxiously wait for what the 2019/20 election would be like, what policy would be put in place?

While the University is known to be building a 21st century institution, properly called; it has been able to  outshine other Universities (especially State Universities) in the country according to the latest and new Webometric University ranking as the best State University on the list, recently.

Just like a bank with officials and non-official workers, if few or no customer makes use of the bank for their transanctions, the relevance of such bank has not really existed. The same goes with customers as well, without the bank officials, no transaction whatsoever can be made.

This is however totally applicable to tertiary institutions. Without the personnel, no or little impact on the students and without the students, activities are rumpled.

Meanwhile, another strategy favourable to the students should be put in place in order to allow the students exercise their franchise without denial. As a 21st century University, properly called, once the students meet the primary and relevant qualification which are: being a student of the institution for more than a session, registered for the Students' Union election, got their voting pin (for an electronic voting or paper,  as the case may be); such an individual needs to vote.

How do we explain where the votes of an elected Student Union President appears not to be up to 3 percent of an elected department President?

Also, should the Students not turn up massively to vote during the poll, that will at least shift away the low turn out blame from the electoral committee and the school. The school has allowed students elect their leaders, the result however  depends on how students turn up en-mass to do the needful.

The Students Union election in the past three (3) years has involved no limitation for the qualified electorates.

We can still trace our steps back and amend things, which will be workable.

Election without discrimination, enabling electorates vote without disenfranchisement gives the electorates (students) relief and opportunity to decide who becomes their Union leader for the next  academic session.

The other way round in recent times (as at last session) has to be a thing of the past. The method adopted has to be reviewed and positively changed. The 2018/19 election method needs to be reversed, in other to let the students have a right to vote in the upcoming 2019/2020 Students' Union election that will definitely show and project to the world once again the level of participation and responsiveness of the students in decision making of concerned area with them.

Every challenge has a solution. The institution needs finance, but disqualifying students with "no tuition payment, no voting" is not a good omen not even at the time the election results have not being encouraging. Should this trend continue, the turn out of the next Students' Union  election will not only be low, many of the students will not even have the chance/right to vote throughout their stay as a student in AAUA.

As the 2019/2020 Students' Union election draws nearer, another technique should be put in place rather than disenfranchising a qlarger number of the students. Once the voting right of everyone is entrenched, it is left to the students to massively come out and vote or stay back home on the election day. I believe this blame will have nothing to do with the electoral body.

As we continue working towards ensuring the building of a 21st century University, properly called through learning, character and service; we also have to see to expansion and participation of students in what affects them.


OLUFEMI Damilola C (Oluwadarmie).
Department Of Political Science and Public Administration, 400 level

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