Echoes From the Students’ Union Press Conference


The University of Ibadan Students’ Union (UI SU) headed by Mr. Samuel Samson Tobiloba popularly known as HOST, held her first Press Conference on 14th January 2024, at the Student Representative Council (SRC) Chamber, within the premises of the institution. The Press Conference was organized as a form of interface between the Executive body of the Union and the Pressmen of various Departments, Faculties, Halls of Residence and the Union of Campus Journalists, University of Ibadan (UCJUI). Observers were also allowed participation.

The conference had been organised to facilitate discussions concerning the achievements of the Union so far, recent developments and future actions by the Union. Although, by the end of the meeting, most Pressmen and observers alike left with unmet expectations, unanswered questions and most evidently uncertainties about the future.

The event began fifteen minutes after 5pm amidst the arrival of Pressmen in trickles. Only four Executives of the Students’ Union were present including the President and Vice-president. The rest of the eight-man Executive Council could not be sighted until the end of the Press Conference, and no reason was given for their notable absence.

In his opening address, the SU President, Mr. Tobiloba, highlighted areas of accomplishments of his Administration in the past semester. Notable among the foregoing were improvements with regards to student welfare as the Bursary was said to have catered for several indigent students. He also mentioned the recent purchase of a Union bus to facilitate transportation of students. Concerning health, he attested to how the ‘japa‘ syndrome has negatively impacted the health services provided by Jaja Clinic, adding that a consultation platform was in the works, that will enable students schedule their consultations ahead of their visits. He also revealed that the union is partnering with several organisations for the purpose of organising capacity building sessions and bootcamp trainings for students.

Subsequently, the floor was made open for questions, moderated by the Editor-in-chief of the UCJ, Mr. Abdulraham Adebayo, who noted that the current administration is not shy of controversy. Many pertinent issues were raised and discussed at the meeting of which one took centre-stage: fees. Several participants were angsty to know the efforts of the Union concerning the payment or non-payment of certain fees regarded by many as unnecessary, such as Technology and laboratory fees, amongst others. Answering the concerns raised, the SU President commented that it would be unfair to say that his administration had done nothing concerning fees as the reason the fees’ portal was open for a long time was because of the intervention of the Student’s Union. Concerning the “unnecessary fees”, he mentioned that things have always been that way but it also did not mean the Student Union was not seeking ways to change things.

A pained observer commented on the high level of apathy of students towards the activities of the Union blaming it on the low sensitization of students by the Executives of rights and duties of members as it pertains to the Students’ Union. He further asked about efforts made to ensure students are aware of their rights and privileges under the Union. This question sparked a series of back and forths and stirred up more questions that seem to challenge the ‘inclusivity’ stance of the administration.

The President explained that efforts had been made in the past semester to increase the awareness of students which largely involved interacting with students at halls of residence level, particularly the female halls. However, the Vice President, Miss Nafisat Ogunsesan, decided to flip the question on the observer who asked it, inquiring of him what he was doing on his part to increase students’ awareness. This response appeared not to sit well with a number of participants evidenced by disgruntled murmurings from several persons, making the already tense atmosphere go stiffer. She defended her response by explaining that since the Union consisted of not just the Executives but every single student member, every student who is aware should ensure that other students are also well informed.

Amidst the questions, there were complaints regarding several matters calling for the attention of the Union. A Pressman from the Faculty of Agriculture complained that the effects of the administration has not been widespread, citing the example of how only a very small percentage of the student populaton are beneficiaries of the school bursary, and she advocated that the Administration do better in this regard. An observer added that the union felt too far from the students which is far from the inclusivity promised by the HOST-led administration. Another observer complained about the dishevelled state of the SRC chamber, although the President had previously hinted at plans for the upgrade and renovation of the facilities.

After the President had thanked the Pressmen for their presence and bearing out their minds, the Conference was finally brought to an end at 7pm. Regardless, for most people, the Executives never really hit the nail on the head concerning certain questions. This certainly left the Pressmen and observers alike wondering if truly this administration is the Messiah they had been waiting for or if they should expect another.

During the course of the Conference, an observer had asked the President what his greatest achievement would be. To this effect, Mr. Tobiloba declared that a stronger Union would be the greatest achievement of his administration. However, this would only be possible with the combined efforts of both students and the Executives, and that synergy appears not to have been truly forged.

By the end of the Press Conference, it was clearly evident that a lot more work still needs to be done in bringing the Students’ Union closer to the students. It is still the hope of many that the HOST-led administration might do justice to this before the end of the tenure.

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