ABH DECIDES 2024: Interview With Mr John Olagunwa, Aspirant for Deputy Hall Chairperson


We are barely half way through the electoral season and one can almost comfortably declare it one of the most interesting we have had in recent times, from shocking discoveries to supposed smear campaigns. In a bid to provide unsuspecting Brownites with more information on the candidates, the Press sat down with the aspirants for the various posts in a special interview.

ABH Press interviewed Mr John Olagunwa, a 400 level BDS student who is the sole aspirant thus far for the position of the Deputy Hall Chairperson and here is what he had to say in response to the questions posed.

Good day, John. I am Sunmi, a member of the Alexander Brown Hall Press. Is there anything you would like Brownites to know about you?

I am John Olagunwa. I am a very easygoing person. I prefer it when people to come up to me and inform me of their worries, needs or any issues they may have with me. I am someone who is open to ideas and feedback.

As we all know, the electoral season is in full swing already. How do you feel about your campaign?

The campaign has been filled with a lot of ups and downs starting with the electoral ban getting lifted during the Health Week. I felt it would not be right to start campaigning during the Health Week considering I am currently an executive. I got some negative feedback as result from people who felt I should have declared my candidacy as soon as possible to gather momentum.

That’s interesting considering you are running unopposed. Are you worried someone else might declare an intent to run for the same post?

I have never worried about that in my entire political career. I prepared for this election with the mindset that I would have an opposition. I have a good design and I went the extra mile of having banners and stickers made. If an opposing candidate comes up, I am up to the task.

That’s confident. In that case, what should Brownites look forward to from you?

There is this idea that the Deputy Hall Chairperson does not do much but at the end of the day, when you look at overall make-up of the tenure, nothing happens without the collaboration of the Deputy Hall Chairperson. He/she works hand-in-hand with all the executives, not to mention deputizing for the Hall Chairperson. That is a lot of work already. In addition, I intend to collaborate with the Finance Minister to organize a financial analysis training and the Sports Minister to ensure continuity of the Get Fit program. I also intend to do what I can to sustain the involvement of female Brownites in sport activities.

I also plan to revive the Hall Warden challenge which has been dormant for the past three years by working with the Hall Assembly towards the modification of the challenge.

Brownites have always been given one reason or the other as to why the Warden’s Challenge has consecutively failed to hold. Do you have a concrete plan of action to ensure it holds in the coming tenure if you are elected?

Ideally, I think the Hall Warden is supposed to sponsor the challenge and according to my enquiries, it is supposed to be organized by the President of Alexander Brown Hall Literary and Debate Society. I am a member of the society which makes it easier for me to liaise with the next President of the Society in addition to the Warden and Hall Assembly on modifying the challenge. The problem last time was a miscommunication between the Hall Assembly and the Executive Council about a change of the name from Warden’s Challenge to Champion of the Podium. There was kickback because the Champion of the Podium is a different competition.

And that is not going to be a problem anymore?

I don’t think that’s going to be a problem.

Okay then. Looking back on your tenure as Finance Minister, would you say that you served Brownites to the best of your abilities?

Yes, I did even when it was quite inconvenient. Because I came in through the bye-elections, I had issues with transfer of documents from the previous administration like change of signatories and accessing the receipt book. Some of my plans from my manifesto like organizing a financial seminar was also not ratified with the Year Plan and I eventually had to sponsor it out of my private pocket to ensure that I fulfilled my promise to Brownites. For every manifesto that I write, I always want to ensure that I fulfill most of my promises.

Hmmm. How is the financial analysis training you mentioned earlier going to be different from the seminar?

The seminar focused on ways of monetizing medical education and practice but the financial analysis training will primarily be on bonds, stocks, financial analysis and possibly, a collaboration with the student finance club.

Alright. Still on the topic of your service to Brownites, there seemed to be a period where you were difficult to reach during the tenure. Most people, myself included, experienced this with regards to booking Famewo Common Room (FCR) for events. Is that inaccessibility something that will persist if you are elected?

During the collection of hall dues receipts, there was a stipulated time for collection. However, I had people come at odd hours of the night to knock on my door to get their receipts and I still responded to them. I did not turn anyone away.

With regards to booking FCR, most people believe that if they leave me a message on WhatsApp, they don’t need to follow up with a call. I am not online all the time. I can only respond when I am free like for example when I get back from school. People who regularly book FCR did not have any complaints because they usually know what time to reach out to me. It was mostly new people who had this complaint and it was majorly because they would make an inquiry and I respond and there wouldn’t be a follow-up until the next day and things would just keep progressing very slowly. I wouldn’t say it is fully my fault but it is something that can be improved on. Communication can always be improved on but I think if you reach out to someone on WhatsApp, you should follow through with a call. I probably did not see the message.

I understand that having a long interval between consecutive messages might be tedious to follow. However, with regards to following up with calls, considering that in past tenures, people did not need to do that to ensure they could book FCR, I don’t think that’s a necessary requirement or valid reason. A message should suffice as it will always be there for you to respond to at your convenience. The problem, I believe, is that it did not seem as though you were replying at all.

In your manifesto, you  mentioned improving the quality of FCR as well. I know the bomb blast that no one could have predicted occurred but excluding the things affected by that, what did you do to improve the state of FCR?

At the beginning of the tenure, every faulty thing in FCR was repaired. However, the door keeps getting damaged. The door has spoiled about three times this tenure and has been fixed. It is currently bad again. I spoke to the Hall Chairperson regarding changing the whole lock but the hall does not have the funds for that right now so there is nothing I could have done better. In addition, FCR has been fumigated twice during this tenure so we really have tried to keep FCR as conducive as possible.

While we are still on FCR, there were multiple double-bookings of FCR that occurred over the course of the tenure. What was responsible for this?

It occurred twice and I believe and it was a miscommunication from both parties. The first time it happened, both parties booked separate days for their events but ended up having to reschedule about 2-3 times. The date and time they both picked eventually ended up clashing and that was the cause of this. However, I apologised to the affect party and helped them find an alternate venue. I even went as far as helping them transport chairs to that venue. There really was nothing else I could have done in that situation.

How do you intend to raise funds for the Hall Week if you’re elected?

I intend to reach out to sponsors early. It really affected how much they were able to send in time for the event this tenure so I plan to inform them early enough next tenure. I also intend to work closely with Jesufemi Adeyeye. He was instrumental to raising the funds we had this year. I hope to capitalise on his relationships with our sponsors as well work with other past executives. 

Alright. Regarding cloud storage of financial reports that you detailed in your manifesto, did you eventually see that through? 

The tenure is not over yet. Before we hand over, reports from this tenure and the past ones that I have access to will be uploaded and the link will be handed over to the incoming Finance Minister.

We are looking forward to it then. Before we round up, just so Brownites have a better picture of the person behind the campaign, what does a day in your life look like? What do you do in your free time? 

I am a very busy person. I’m into many things; music, public speaking, finance analysis, politics, graphics design, writing.  I’m the kind of person who goes after learning things that interest me. Having these skills can always come in handy.

Finally, is there anything you’d like to say to Brownites? 

During this election period, I would like Brownites to try as much as possible to do their research well and not buy into any propaganda that comes their way, to be intellectual Brownites and to vote wisely.

That brings us to the end of this interview. Thank you very much for your time, Mr John. Have a lovely day. 

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