By Gbadegesin Muftau Adewale.
The 2019 Unilorin Student Union election has been held but the dust raised has unsettled the student populace with some questioning whether there was truly an election, or a mere selection by the powers that be.
An eyewitness who pleaded anonymity for fear of victimisation, said there were lot of infractions and irregularities in the whole exercise with students having to face difficulties in the process of voting and that of results collation.
“The collation of results started well,” said the anonymous eyewitness who was in the auditorium basement (the venue of the collation), “but when it got to the result of the Central Executive Council (which included that of the President), the portal displayed no vote and it never showed until about an hour time.”
“Ordinarily,” she continued, “collation of results shouldn’t take more than some hours but in a situation where the collation began at exactly 5pm in the evening while the declaration of the Presidential result had to be made around past ten in the night, a situation totally different from tradition.”
While declaring the winner of the election, Aluko Ahmad, Chairman of the Electoral Commission, said Okoko Wisdom Oluwaseun, a student of the department of Human Kinetic, Faculty of Education polled the highest votes with 2, 611 as against that of his closest rival, Sanni Abdulqudus Olanrewaju of the Faculty of Management Science who scored 2,525. Other presidential candidates include: Bagbansoro, Usman Olalekan, 1718; and Yusuf Abdul Rahman Israel, 388 votes.
Also elected are, Muhammad Fatimah Temitope as the (Vice President) who also hails from the same department as the President elect; Ajede, Khadija Adebanke, General Secretary; Ezechukwu Tracy-Allen Mmessoma; Assistant General Secretary and Ola Akanbi, Farhan Adedoyinsola as Financial Secretary.
The election which produced the 34th Student Union President of the institution witnessed one of the lowest turn out of voters in recent years with complaints hanging around the sophistication of the portal.
Hacking or No Hacking?
Because of the difficulties encountered by students, some were unable to exercise their franchise while others waited so long before they could cast their vote. However, that delay ignited the fire of insinuations making the round on whether the university portal was truly hack by unscrupulous elements or partially blocked to pave the way for manipulation and rigging of election results.
This insinuation was further compounded during the collation of results as there was a prolonged delay on the portal especially during that of the presidential and other members of the central executive council results, a situation which was described as strange and unexpected.
The sub-dean of the student affairs Dr. Alex Akanmu expressed displeasure at the breach of security saying, “those behind such act have been identified and will be invited for investigation”
Speaking further, Dr. Akanmu said “security issues cannot be taken for granted, and that some people were trying to hack into the portal to manipulate the election results but it has been taken care of by the ISEC”.
As long as investigation by the school Management might actually uncover some iota of truth about the level of security breach and the damage done, there are questions yet to be answered. For instance, what did COMSIT, the IT unit of the university did when students faced difficulties before voting? Why did the electoral commission fail to inform the students populace of the development? How long will it take to bring those suspected hackers to book and when it was discovered that such breach is ongoing, why was there no urgent step to stem the ugly tide? Then finally, what will happen to the election result itself? Will it stand or be rendered null and void?
Portal History in Unilorin.
In September, 2016, the University of Ilorin was hacked by one Coy Emerald who said the motive behind his criminal act was plain and pure saying his intention is devoid of any financial benefit. The University had tough time completing students registration of the fresh students at the time while also battling with the sanctity of her database.
Also, in the August of 2017, the university portal was hacked by an unknown hacker which further created doubt in the minds of students as to the savvy of the university webmasters.
However, combining all of these evidences gave one a modicum of truth about the supposedly hacking portal in the election.
Political Apathy among Students, Why?
The turnout of voters during an election is one of the metrics for measuring its success or otherwise. Massive turnout is an indication of people’s enthusiasm and optimism about the process, while a low turnout points to something disapproving – we are not interested in the exercise. The July 2nd 2019 election that produced Okoko wisdom Oluwaseun points to the former as the exercise witnessed one of its lowest turnout.
For example, the election that produced the current crop of outgoing Student Union leaders including that of the President, Animashaun Emmanuel Oluseyi, recorded a higher number of voter turnout compared to that of 2nd July 2019. Animashaun for instance, polled a total of 5,067 votes while Abdulrauf Taofeeq Olaitan, Oyesiji Abdulazeez and Adekunle Sofiu scored 3,831, 3,139 and 3,365 respectively.
In a recent survey of undergraduate students in the University of Ilorin, the total number of students was estimated to be around forty-four thousand (44,000). This looks absurd, preposterous and unimaginable if placed side by side with the meager votes the Student Union President elect amassed from the just concluded polls.
Of course, when voter’s enthusiasm is dampened, selection rather than election might be the order of the day. Better still, it creates room for questions of various kinds such as those raised above.