The second semester to a large extent is a consequence of the first. It is the semester you consolidate the exploits of its predecessor with a predicted outcome in mind. Unlike the first though, the second semester is marked with a litany of fanfare from all sides: associations, departments, faculties, political bodies, religious bodies, etc. It is more often than not the time to give members the perquisites of democracy.
Politically, the second semester is more fermented than the first simply because most associations get members to exercise their franchise to ballot in new executives. As last act of official duty, old executive members give the account of their stewardship to their constituents paving the eventual way for the emergence of new executives. But politics – of the Nigerian kind – being what it is is not always a smooth adventure for anyone. Politics is a game of wits, wealth, and wonders. To this end, aspirants brace themselves up for the time of their lives.
My first experience of campus politics came in the second semester of my neophyte year. It was the manifesto day; the day political contestants for SUG offices would by way of rhetoric enunciate the raison d’être of their ambitions. I went thinking the experience would be awesome, but unbeknownst to me, the experience would turn out disappointing. As usual with anything in Nigeria, we aren’t always business-minded with time. The programme had not started much later after the announced time but din and fanfare had engulfed the venue – Amphitheatre. From the stairways I’d been met with an ensemble of instrumentalists and sloganeers of different contestants. Each group did its best to outdo the other.
It was the survival of the loudest. The terraced seats of Amphitheatre were filled almost to the capacity and in spite of this, supporters moved with PVC banners chanting their support for various candidates without any thought of the devastating consequence of a possible stampede occasioned by such impolitic footloose adventure. Reality dawned on me that OAU for all its touted praises of civic consciousness is a contrast juxtaposed with its electoral processes. When the time came for each aspirant to address the audience, it was more cacophony from opposing camps. The very essence of the day was lost in the din of the noise.
This instance shows the primitive norm of our electioneering in OAU. A norm built on the tenets of desperation. We make mincemeat of our scholarship when we resort to crude politicking. More so, the protracted fued between the school/government administration and student body has tinkered with our ideas of what politics is all about. Politics we feel must always be activist in orientation. While the importance of activism is by any stretch not deemphasized, I however think it portends the danger of shrouding us from the actual matters dear to us. How, we should ask, have we had the recurrence of graft in our political structures time and again? How has the oft-repeated Latin maxim ‘Aluta Continua’ had any real value on the character of our unionists?
The second half of the session has begun gathering momentum for politics. As stakeholders, perhaps now is the time we divest ourselves of crude habits that are inimical to democracy. Now is perhaps the time politics isn’t played to favour sectarian interests or other vested interests.