OF ELECTIONS, OFFICES AND FAILED OFFICERS: NAVIGATING THE MUDDY WATERS OF ABH POLITICS
by Atere Oluwasemiloore
The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author.>
Once again, these couple of days have been remarkable for Brownites, a time to decide who and who will not be in the hallowed chamber and the executive council of the hall. It is election time, signifying the end of a beginning and the beginning of another end.
Historically, elections comprise numerous elements and involve multiple actors throughout the pre-election, election day and post-election periods. Unlike popular assumptions, an election is never a single event but a culmination of events, all of which affect the efficiency, inclusiveness, accountability and competitiveness of the election. While some events are anticipated, other ones have a way of sneaking in like a bastard son. From disqualification of candidates for amorphous reasons to the unfortunate pattern of executives’ impeachment that we have witnessed in the last two administrations – terrible to say the very least.
The broadcasts are renting the air again, our class pages are welcoming new visitors bearing bountiful packages in form of conversations with them; glossy posters now deface the gates and the walls; not to mention the visits, like a boyfriend clamouring for sex; campaign WhatsApp groups here and there; numerous posters dropping daily as e de hot; the innovative jingles in form of 1-minute videos; any contestant yet to make either a poster or flyer, chances are we haven’t seen you yet and there is an imminent need to fix up, as flyers and human beings now struggle for air and space together. Flashes of fake smiles grace their chatty lips, with hugs and kisses as we savour the fragrances of their body. If our aspirants went for PR tutorials in the past, we hereby plead that their tutors grant them an A. The electorate remains defenceless against the assault of their pleas, “I need your support”. The student politicians are here again and our electioneering process is at its crescendo.
The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man to show commitment to ourselves, our community and the world at large. And even though my eyes have seen ‘evils’ against my desire: people grossly occupied in absurd shows of shame in the name of politics, leaders clinging to gains and not service, elected leaders trampling upon the interests of persons they swore to represent, and several other disappointing occurrences; I dare say that if we do not vote, we are simply giving away the future. For instance, in the race of becoming the hall’s Information Minister in the 2019 ABH elections, Samuel Olateju defeated Feranmi Omitoyin by just one vote – a single winning vote. Feranmi Omitoyin apparently won in all blocks at the time, yet that single vote from Block G made all the difference. So, why do you think your vote doesn’t count? Unfortunately, little did we know that an aspirant who won by such a miracle would go on to be impeached later in the tenure.
Anjola Oluyole who gracefully replaced Samuel Olateju in the Transcending Limits’ tenure as Information Minister, was impeached as the deputy hall chairperson in the Revamped Agenda tenure this January. We would have sworn she would have no issues whatsoever with the hall Assembly, considering the experience she got by chance to serve in the ABH Executive Council. This brings to fore the diverse narratives of Thompson Ebiaku, who on the day the Revamped Agenda (excluding the Hall Chair) were to give their account of stewardship in the Assembly, was deemed not to have served. In a pandemic era when health workers and officials had so much to do and were globally acclaimed and praised, ours decided to fall short. But I question, what went wrong? If he had in his feathers, service in about three executive roles in other associations in the past, connecting the dots for his ineptitude as our health minister in ABH leaves one with nothing but excruciating pain. Although, one wonders why it took the Assembly such a long time to make such a decision.
We must now set our minds on the way forward, set up a credible accountability system that brings to the fore activities of our leaders periodically, and ways to support and increase their service for members of the hall. This can only be possible if we dump the apathy that we have adopted. My dear readers, if we keep watching and wondering who will take charge, the ills of our associations and hall will remain. In the last elections, only a few candidates across all the four departments of the hall ran for executive positions, thus posts were unopposed. Should this remain so? Regardless, we give honour to all folks who have faith in our beloved and historical association as to lead is no easy task, they indeed reignite the hope we have. Another thing that gives us hope is the good work of the Alexander Brown Hall (ABH) Assembly Constitution Review Committee led by Honourable Micheal Adejumo, which has now opened opportunities for more classes, rather than only finalists, to take up executive positions in the hall. This gives room for diversity in the Executive Council which was previously not obtainable.
Juxtaposing with what happened in the legislative arm in the last elections, the Assembly had the highest possible representation of thirty-seven Brownites. The Assembly comprises floor reps on all blocks and representatives from each academic association. Sadly, the vibrant assembly we expected was only in our dreams. As we speak, about six members have been removed and more will be removed on the handing-over day, showing how grossly incompetent some members were as some never showed up for meetings. Although we understand that many of the Assembly members wanted the gain of a room secured, how bad could it be that duties attached to such gain became inconsequential at the end of the day?
While I recover from this bad luck that encumbered the leadership in the hall and search for a cure to my recent pessimism, I am reminded that the mark of intelligence is realizing we are not making the same mistake again and again. Also, we get nowhere by hitting people over the head – that is assault, not leadership. In retrospect, if the last Assembly, headed by Rt. Hon. Adegbaju Francis, which had only about seven members sworn in at inertia with no room incentive and twenty-nine members – many of which were co-opted into the assembly in light of their active participation and good liaise on their floors, ended the tenure active and successfully; perhaps, my faith should rest assured of much brighter days ahead.
My dear readers, just as we understand how pregnancy labour is never a single event, so also is the role of the electorate (Brownites in this case), which goes beyond voting on election days. Therefore, I ask you, what roles do you play? Do you encourage and support friends, classmates, and floormates serving as leaders? Or are you just a keyboard warrior only to be seen to attack yet you are absentia? When will you join that committee that so badly needs your strength, networks, and diverse views? No doubt, the ideals and ideologies of those seeking election into offices should be questioned, whether opposed or unopposed. We must ask for a genuine portrayal of all that means genuine leadership to aspirants. But most importantly, like Robin Sharma in his book, a leader with no title, quoted “Each of us, by the very fact of our shared humanity, can show leadership. We need to practice leadership within every arena we play, with or without a title”.