“I PLAN TO HAVE A MORE INCLUSIVE UNION” – HOST
After a long and hard fought campaign, Samson Oluwatobiloba, popularly known as Host, emerged as the President-elect of the University of Ibadan Student Union. Following his victory, the ABH press sat down with him to discuss the campaign and his plans for the union going forward.
Good evening Host. Thank you very much for joining me.
Good evening. Thank you for having me.
Can you tell me about yourself, briefly?
My name is Samson Oluwatobiloba. I am a student of Dentistry and Dental surgery. I am the President-elect of the University of Ibadan Student Union.
Alright. Congratulations on your electoral victory. I just have to ask, although I know you’ve probably answered this question at least a million times, why run for the office of Student Union President?
Since my first day on campus, I have been privileged to be around the Union and I took my time to learn about the Union and how it works. I never really took a personal interest in being the one to make decisions for the union, but from my experience working with the management at the Union level, I saw that a lot of things that needed to be done, and that was my motivation to contest for the position and I started to key into it.
Usually, when one wants to run for a position as lofty as student union president, one starts with lower level positions. Did you hold any of those positions? If not, why?
Do you mean in the Union?
While I may not have held specific elected positions in the Union, I have had the privilege of serving in different units in the Union. I have been the Head of the Task Force of the Union during the Akeju-led administration. I have been the Chairman for the Logistics and Planning Subcommittee for the Electoral Committee. I was the Chairman of the Bursary Committee in the current administration and other such responsibilities in the Union. I have also had the privilege of serving in ad hoc committees in the Union, so I have a lot of experience in the administration of the Union.
That is impressive.
As you know, the campaigns this year became rather messy. There were insults and personal attacks and it was becoming something else entirely. How did you feel during the campaign period?
I knew from the onset that I was a very strong contender for the position, so I knew that I would be the subject of a lot of things. However, I did not expect that it would be taken that far. I felt bad during the campaign, truly. People that are very close to me know that at a point in the campaign run, I was personally tired of the whole thing. It took the encouragement and support of the people around me to push this through.
Alright. One thing that kept coming up during the campaign is that you are a medical student and some people feel you would be too busy or too far away from the main campus in UI to effectively run the Union. What do you have to say about that?
I think the perspective of those people who brought up the argument is very wrong. This would not be the first time that a medical student would contest for the position of Student Union President. We had a former Union President in 2011, a Union Vice-president in 2014 and a GSU. We’ve also had a Speaker of the House of the SRC. No one can say that these people did not perform because they were medical students. So, that point is invalid. Also, medical students are students of the University of Ibadan, like every other faculty. They are also members of the Union and they path their dues. So why would anybody say that they do not have the right to contest for the same positions in the union when the constitution allows them to?
Right. Now, elections are over. The elections were rather polarizing, with people digging deep in their camps. Have you reached out to the other candidates and their supporters to try to foster peace and cooperation for the good of the union?
I have reached out to all the other aspirants and we are still talking to see how we can work together. I want to believe that the motivation behind their candidacy in the first place is the progress of the Union, so we’d discuss their ideas and plans for the Union and find a common ground. It is our Union and we all have a role to play in its success.
Thank you. So, what do we have to look forward to in your tenure?
Throughout my campaign, I emphasized value for membership because I don’t think the Student Union is doing all it can do for the average student of the university. An average Uite should be able to say “these are the the things I have benefited from the Union.” That is what my team and I will work day and night to achieve.
Do you think people feel like they are a part of a Union?
I feel that the Union might have been working towards incorporating students in the past. This is the second administration since the ban, mine would be the third. What we had in the previous administrations was more of ensuring that the ground work is done. To ensure that things are different this time around, the levels of engagement of different categories of people will have to be different. The university has about 28,000 students and about 5000 of them are post graduate students. We have to start asking how we can include these people. We have people off campus, we have medical students in ABH and all others. These are all due paying members of the Union who should be incorporated fully in the planning and running of the Union, and that is something that I am really passionate about.
Thank you very much for joining me. I wish you all the best in your tenure.
Thank you for having me. Goodbye.