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Saturday, April 23, 2016

A quick chat with Akeukanwo Sulayman (Al-Qalam).

In the wake of this week's series of letter writing between Unilorites and The Executive arm of the Students Union, I caught up with the writer of 'AN OPEN LETTER TO MR PRESIDENT... ' Mr Akeukanwo Suleiman and we had a chat. Here's an excerpt of it. Enjoy...

BashSays: Good evening Sir. Kindly introduce yourself to our esteemed readers.

Al-Qalam: Good Evening, Am Sulaiman Akeukanwo Al-Qalam, a student of Faculty of Communication and Information Science, Department of Computer Science, University of Ilorin.

BashSays: Your name came to light on campus this week after your "OPEN LETTER" to the Students Union hierarchy went viral on social media, what prompted this action?

Al-Qalam: I will like to digress a bit. The name 'THE PEN' as been around the campus for a while and with the indulgence of the Student Union President, the newly admitted student were welcomed on campus with the article 'Welcome to Unilorin"
And on their matriculation ceremony an article titled "Happy Matriculation" was my idea of making the environment an academic friendly one to all being admitted.

So the name is one that rings bell but not my full name, which was as a result of the fact that the letter in question will have indeed made no impact, one it is making currently, if it was written incognito. I was prompted to inquire the state of student welfarism because such is needed. We all know what the Student Union as offered us all. And I will like to Inform us all that aside my plea as stated in item seven of the letter, I was only asking questions that needed answer. Alhamdulilah, someone as done that on behalf of the entire student populace. Barrack Obama said and I quote "you will be judge according to what you build and not that which you destroy". Am optimistic that we will all get a reply from Com. Alao Idris Observation. I have known him to be a builder!!!

BashSays: While some have praised your efforts, others believe it's a publicity stunt towards a possible political ambition, how true is this claim?

Al-Qalam : It is not far fetched that we all can not be on the same page as regard issue of this kind. Some will be informed, some will criticise, and some will turn it into a political tussle. This is not a question of political ambition. But one that needed our constitution to be put in play.

BashSays: You were quoted to have said in your letter "Arise oh comrades!...thousands of students United can't be defeated by potbellied administrators ". Are you inciting the Students against the SU?

Al-Qalam: I indeed implore all to stand firm as we await a trying time ahead of us. Please be careful of your use of word. You and I knew I wasn't inciting anything out of my letter but rather making a plea on behalf of fellow colleagues and largely making an inquiry about our play book, our constitution, our ground norm.

BashSays: The SA to the president on media and publicity already responded to your letter, what's your reaction to his response?

Al-Qalam : Yes, I have seen the SA's reply, though to clear the air and to affirm the fact that the contents of my letter are facts and not fallacies, I will react ASAP to the SA's comment, it can never be a reply to my letter as my letter was not addressed to the SA. And his reply was despised of date, salutation and address of the person he his addressing. This is one of the reason why my letter was not written incognito. He has gotten lot of response which depict the SA of being an accident of history. Never the less, I am using this euphoria to advice the SA to try in his possible best not to loose his sanity.

BashSays: What is your definition of students activism/unionism?

Al-Qalam: What is my definition of Student Unionism? That is one of the purpose of my open letter, my definition as being highlighted in the letter and as it has been reviewed by Unionist. I encourage us all to embrace the spirit of leadership as been displayed by the prophet. It is not far fetched, he his the leader of all leaders.

BashSays: Your assessment of the Alao Idris led administration?

Al-Qalam: As at this present time, I will pend my comment on assessing the current SU administration. But am sure we can all read between the lines.

BashSays: Your parting shot

Al-Qalam: Just like i have, via the letter, I am imploring all unilorite never to lose their sense of observation and to never lose our sanity.

BashSays:  It's nice having you on our platform. Thanks for sparing some of your time with us.

Al-Qalam: You are most welcome sir!!!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

A letter to Mr President!

Well,  if you were thinking it was a letter to President Buhari,  you'd be disappointed.
This week started with a bombshell dropped by a concerned student of the  'better by far' university, Unilorin. The letter dated Monday April 18th, 2016 reads thus;

The President of Student Union,
Kaduna Nzeogwu Building,
University of Ilorin,

Mr. President, with great humility, extreme sobriety and solidarity, I implore you to go through this correspondence with great sense of objectivity and give it a swift demonstration. Mr. President, a friend of mine said and I quote “Students' activism can no longer be perceived in our schools, perhaps Students Unionism died with Abacha”. I exclaimed, and been an intellectual, I queried as to why he made such proclamations or rather assertion. My better by far President, He said and I quote: “I have travelled far and wide and I have been kept apprise of all the happenings on Nigerian campuses” and his summary goes thus:
My idea of the Students' Union Government was a union which comprises a group of students with similar goals and objectives echoed in one voice. Alas, my definition or description of Students’ unionism has long been reviewed by the Students' "unionists" as a body comprising of students who delve mistakenly into school politics to amass wealth for themselves, drive around our campuses in luxury van, and live in well furnished rooms despite the lamentable state of fellow student welfare status.
Students' unionism has been typical of an oxymoron because studentship in recent times has dissociated itself from the essence of unionism. It is quite lamentable and laughable that problems in higher institutions brews up as the population of students increases in tens over the years. The offices of students' union officials have become too juicy, leaving Nigerian students in the hands of leaders who are shoddier. Leadership ought to be purpose driven and not that which is backed by financial appetite.
He went further, as he quotes Albert Einstein when been offered the position of Israel presidency, he declined the offer saying “he lacks the natural aptitude to handle official matters’’. The case of student’s leaders in our era today is quite different from what we originally envisaged, as they are sponsored by godfathers in schools' governing council or "over graduate students". "The Over graduate students" are those alumni you see on our campuses who come to our campuses to invest in students' union elections, all these has given rise to mediocrity in students' union government.
The interference of school authorities in students' politics is also a plague to students' activism, the level of tribalism and nepotism that plays on our campuses is colossal as certain positions are reserved for students of host communities. Often times on our campuses there are clashes between school's anointed candidates and the Oba's as the case may be. The palaces have become determining factor of the lives of young students who are christened "leaders of tomorrow". The deplorable state of our hostels, Lecture theatres and other school infrastructures as of today is not only due to the bad governance of the Nation; A portion of it is given birth to by the Student leaders we have on our campuses; As they have refused to speak for the students who have no other choice than finding comfort in bed bugs ravaged mattresses, over crowded hostel rooms, bad toilets and open air bathrooms (student have their bath outside).
Students' Associations in the Departmental and Faculty levels are the most handicapped on our campuses, their objectives are simple - host faculty and departmental football competition, produce T-shirts and collect dues from which a good proportion of the dues collected leave students' coffers to faculty deans and Head of Departments. These faculty leaders ought to channel the challenges of their students to the Student Union Government when they can no longer contain the pressure. Contrary to the objective of a sane students' union, leaders protect their GP's to the detriment of students they lead. Victimization of students has become common epidemic on our campuses where students are victimized for not dancing to the tune of greedy lecturers and sexually voracious lecturers who have revolved their offices into hotel rooms, when these innocent young women die of abortion their families become pained and when their wombs are destroyed, they become prey to their future husbands.
The students' leaders have not been able to tame these unscrupulous elements in the name of academics. Arise Oh Comrades! We must not be dumb or feign ignorance of these plague, thousands of students united cannot be defeated by a few potbellied administrators who know of our plights but have not been informed with cries and demonstrations of angry students who have not enjoyed the true benefits of studentship.
The school is a micro reflection of the larger society and if we fail as intellectuals the society will die. We must not wait on our "leaders" but on the miraculous spirit of "Aluta". Let the unschooled man not say thank God I didn't go to school. We must talk, write and stood firmly on been an objective intellectuals. Let us all sing Aluta Continua, Victoria Ascerta...
Mr. President, as we all know this is better by far, and as we all bellow for a best by far Student Union, I believe the above claim are characteristics of Student Union on various campuses of the federation less that of University of Ilorin. In making myself more objective I will implore you once again to correspond and deliberate with all other Central Executive Council members, the Senate Council and the Judicial Council to respond swiftly to the following questions as I strongly believe your swift response to them will amount to promoting University of Ilorin as a peace loving university. Before I come forward with my questions sir, I will like to tender my appraisal towards student welfarism as being duly deserved by some of your executive members. The case of Mr. Ridwan Adegbola of Faculty of Law, as it was been attended to by the Vice President, College of Health Science after been beaten to coma deserves an applaud, as it was a display of welfarism at its peak. I will also like to applaud your administrations contingency plan towards curbing criminal activities at Oke-Odo and some strategic places off campus. We implore you all, to keep striving and keep achieving.
Mr. President, my questions goes thus:
1. Invoking Article 5 of the Student Union Constitution, the union is said to constitute in hierarchy, The Congress, The Central Executive Council (CEC), The Senate Council (SC) and the Judicial Council. It is quite unfortunate that “The Congress”, in which its welfarism is the sole responsibility of the Student Union at large as been derided. It is clearly stated in the constitution, that “The first Ordinary Congress shall be held in the first semester and the second congress shall be held in the second semester before the expiration of the office of the CEC” – Article 6A item 4. Why as the Congress being sidelined? Am sure you won’t be wary of the power of the congress as depicted by Article 6C once you are not putting a square peg in a round hole. Mr. President, Can you please tell us all where and when the last congress of the Student Union was being held?

2. According to Article 12A item 5 of the constitution, “The Senate President shall be the chief interpreter of the constitution”. Mr. President, I will like you to indulge the knowledge of the Senate President of Student Union Senate Council, the Chief Judge and the Attorney General of the Judicial Council of the Union as Article 15F item 1 of the constitution gave them the privilege to respond to questions raised against the viability of the constitution. I will be questioning the viability of the constitution as regards the following portion of the Constitution relating to electioneering process :
a. Part II of the Electoral Act, item 10 (II) C – “The members shall be any matriculated students who have spent at least (2) academic sessions”
b. Part  VI of the Electoral Act, item 24 (b) –  States that a person shall be eligible to contest for the office of the President  of the Student’s union if “He must have spent at least (2) complete academic sessions”
c. Part  VI of the Electoral Act, item 25 (b) –  States that a person shall be eligible to contest for the office of the Vice-President (Permanent Site)  of the Student’s union if “She must have spent at least (2) complete academic sessions”
d. Part  VI of the Electoral Act, item 26 (b) –  States that a person shall be eligible to contest for the office of the Vice-President (College of Health Sciences)  of the Student’s union if “She must have spent at least (2) complete academic sessions”
e. Part  VI of the Electoral Act, item 27 (b) –  States that a person shall be eligible to contest for the office of the General Secretary and Financial Secretary of the Student’s union if “He/She must have spent at least (2) complete academic sessions”
Mr. President, Mr. Senate President, Mr. Chief Judge and Mr. Attorney General, Please tell us all why and how the constitution should sidelined some student from contesting even though they are in the same level with UTME Contestant? The question raised in here, is a matter of urgency and one which demand swift, objective and peaceful response as “all Direct Entry applicants of the University” are been obviously sidelined and dis-enfranchised of their basic right to contest for all those posts in question. That is our own view, and we anticipate that you and all in question as to this regard will prove us all wrong.
3. Article 10G item 3 of the Constitution state clearly that the Welfare Secretary Permanent Site and College of Health Sciences “shall ensure that the sanitation in the university be conducive for the health of the members”. I will like to bring to your notice that which is of no news to you sir, that the most provoking toilet facility on the school campus is located in the most strategic place on campus, the arena where at least 50% of the school population take their daily meal – Our dear Bukateria (BUKA).  With great sense of been health conscious Sir, even a dead man will come to live if he visit this toilet. Sir, as if that is not enough, it is of no news to you too that toilets in various faculties are in a very bad shape. I will also like to inform you of the fact that most of the toilets on the campus “walk-way” are nothing but a swimming pool in which you have to swim in your way to put them to use. It is of no news that university of Ilorin Student always go on queue to get anything, Sir, it is retrogressive for student of the “better by far” University to go on queue before making use of the toilet even at the school Central Mosque; On this note, I will be grateful if you can provide us answers as to why the Male toilet of Block 1 (Walk-Way) is always on lock down?  Also, have you not been kept apprise of all this? If yes; why are we still in this mess? Because, it might have not come to your notice that student are now nursing toilet disease despite the fact that they have paid for this services and some are spending more than they should as they have to go off campus to answer the call of nature all because they are wary of toilet diseases.

4. Article 10F item 5 of the Constitution as stated in black and white that the Financial Secretary of the Student Union “shall publish the union’s account as it stands every month throughout the session, and paste such publication on all faculty notice boards with the supervision of the Public Relation Officers” of the Union. Why as this role of this portion of the Constitution not being played by the two offices in delegation? Are there any clandestine and surreptitious motives as to this regards?

5. Article 20C item 2 and 3 of the Student Union Constitution depict respectively that “Thirty five percent of the total revenue shall be used for capital project” and “Thirty five percent of the total revenue shall be used for other expenses”. Mr. President, can you please devour us all with what the Student Union is having in plan as regard this portion of the Constitution? Mr. President Sir, we are all aware of the fact that we were all coerced to make payment for “Sweat Shirts” which am sure almost the entire school populace never bargained for; Sir, are you aware of the fact that we will make such payment beforehand? If Yes, When are we going to have the so called shirt? If No, what have you done to balance the situation as regard the sweat shirt?

6. Invoking Article 20D item 2 of the Student Union Constitution, “Copies of the approve budget shall be conspicuously (evidently, visibly and noticeably) displayed on all notice boards for a period of at least two (2) weeks from the approved date”. Mr. President, You and I both know that this portion of the constitution as not been put to practice. My question to this regards include:
a. When and where was the budget sitting of your administration being held?
b. If we are to assume that there was a budget sitting and this crucial portion of the constitution is being devoid. Can you please explain to us the motive behind why the entire member of the Union are not being breastfeed of this crucial information?
c. If it is not in your positon Sir, as to providing answer to (a) and (b) above, whose obligation is it to have bring to all member of the Union the budget of the Union for the Session as stated in Article 20D item 2 of the Student Union Constitution?

7. Mr. President, I will like to bring you up to speed as regard the issue of nothing more than a hundred and eight (108) duly matriculated student of the just concluded admission exercise of the University, in which each of those student are tagged to have secured their admission via a fraudulent means as proclaimed by the University Student Disciplinary Committee (SDC). Mr. President, as at this present moment, either those student are guilty or not, you have not issued any presidential concern to those who have elected you to sing out their voice in case situation of this caliber surfaces, I presumed that is a blow on your presidency. As I have stated earlier on, they were all duly matriculated and we both knew what that depicts. Can you with great sense of welfarism tell us all why you have kept this under the carpet as if it is not an issue that needs sagacious treatment? Mr. President, as we all know that fact will always speak for itself, I have made my findings and I have been convinced beyond doubts that not a single soul out of the afore mentioned One hundred and Eight (108) student  in question was duly admitted. I made cross reference with Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) database so as to be sure of my sources, and also, I am convinced beyond doubt that Nigerian University Commission (NUC) knows nothing about this student’s admission as it was neither authorized by them nor JAMB; as regard this fact, and as we all know the country at large is in its trying time and as we all are facing corruption to its last root, that it should be uprooted, I am given the University Management an unreserved prestige, kudos and appreciation for laying good example as to the fact they have shown vividly that the acclaimed “probitas doctrina” was not an accident of history. They have shown a great character. Mr. President, you and I both know that the total number of student in question were not involved in the engineering process of this shameful situation. My sources proclaimed that it was orchestrated by some Staff of the university and as at this present moment some have been apprehended. Mr. President, on behalf of the entire Student populace of the university we want you to provide us the full details of all those who are involved in this shameful act as you and I know they want to drag our good name into a dirty mud. Lastly sir, It is disheartened that after series of encounter between all the Student’s in question and the SDC, the fate of any of those student as not been revealed to them. Are they going to be rusticated? Are they going to be expelled? Are they going to continue with their programme? Are they going to be refunded? This are questions I keep asking myself, Mr. President, being a progressive minded intellectual of this great citadel of intelligential I believe you can make a plea on behave of this student, as that is the only reasonable approach for both side in question as to this regard. Mr. President, please liaise with the Dean of Student Affairs, the Dean of each of the faculties each of the student’s in question belongs to, their HOD’s and if possible their Level adviser. I strongly believe it will reap a good fruit. Mr. President, I have been in contact with some of the Student’s in question and I have gathered that some among this student’s if not been pardoned by the University will never see the four walls of the University, I mean never in their lifetime. They are hoping if the university could cut them a deal, place them in the University remedial school or in any of the school programme, or even ask them to go and rewrite JAMB/IJMB, and if they were able to seat and pass another JAMB/IJMB, the University will offer them admission as a price for all the ordeal they have witnessed as regard this issue. Mr. President, I am sure the plea is not going to be something easy, but I will be very grateful if you can give my advice a trial and history will never forget you tried your best even when it seems no way out, and the children and children children, of every one of the student in question will never forget your impact in their life.
Mr. President, like you have always encouraged us all not to be defeated by our sense of observation and as one of your presidential candidate, before you were being elected into office, proclaimed that we should all try in our possible best not to lose our sanity. Sir, with great sense of not being defeated by our sense of observation and not losing our sanity. On behalf of the entire student populace of the University, we request your acknowledgement and swift demonstration’s as regard the content of this pen pal.
May Allah (God) bless University of Ilorin,
May Allah (God) bless Kwara State,
May Allah (God) bless Nigeria.

From a concerned and observing pen pusher, I remain humble and I will never fumble.
Akeukanwo Sulaiman Abiodun Al-Qalam (The-Pen)
300 level, Department of Computer Science,
Faculty of Communication and Information Science,
University of Ilorin,
Ilroin, Kwara State.

What do you think about this letter?
Is it a right step in the right direction?
Feel free to drop your comments below, thank you.