By Akanji Ridwan Opeyemi
In what could be described as a political theatre, keeping us all entertained and turning so many keen observers and interest players into emergency lawyers, the 2019/2020 faculty of physical science elections has been nothing short of testy and breathtaking.
After an election filled with intrigues and emotions, the chairman of the faculty’s independent electoral commission, Kareem Abeeb Oluwatobi, on Monday, May 10 2021, declared Mr Oluwalambe Rabiu Kunle, Solar, as the winner of the keenly contested presidential election. In a move that has continued to raise eyebrow amongst concerned members of the association.
According to agents present, the chairman declared the presidential election which had 68 void votes inconclusive, at which time the opponent, Sobowale Abdulquayyum, was leading by 4 votes. The election which held on April 29, 2021 was brought to a standstill as the electorates were left befuddling as no official announcement was made. A move that is contrary to the provisions of the constitution.
On April 30, 2021 in a meeting with all the aspirants, the chairman left all option up in the air, with no clear direction and at the same time, there were talks of a rerun technicality of which is highly debatable as the constitution setting up faculty electoral committee only permits the SRC to give final verdict on any matter arising from the election, through a majority rule. What more could be considered a matter arising than not declaring election winners several hours after voting has ended.
In a move that could be considered unconstitutional, on May 10, 2021, after another round of meeting with the aspirants, Oluwalambe Rabiu Kunle was declared winner by the chairman after, according to other aspirants present, reconsidering the initially declared void votes. This against the constitution which clearly states in article 8, electoral procedure page 33 that election results are to be announced immediately after election. On the contrary, it took the electoral committee 11 days to announce the winners of the election. How 11 days could be interpreted as “immediately” would be another interesting perspective waiting to be heard.
This should be the time we call for an amendment of the constitution that allows only finalist to stand as the electoral committee chairman. This, at least, will ensure that the said finalist is a returning member of the electoral committee. The current displeasing situation could be down to the current presiding chairman’s inexperience as a member of an electoral committee. As this is the first experience in the job, and he only got the job by virtue of being a finalist.
What more could possibly go wrong? As the electoral committee which he chairs only has 8 roles, as spelt out by the same article 8, electoral procedure page 33 of the NAPHSS constitution which are to 1. Organize and effectively supervise the association’s election. 2. Determine the method and modalities for the screening exercise. 3. Receive petitions from any candidate(s) before the screening exercise. 4. Be responsible to the care-taker committee 5. Announce election result immediately after election. 6. Make sure that any SRC/CEC member contesting for any post has properly resigned before campaign. 7. Ensure aspirant for the post of president must have spent at least two (2) complete academic session in the faculty. 8. Issue certificate of return to all elected officers on the day of inauguration.
As seen, in no place was the electoral committee charged with the right to withhold election result days after voting exercise has been concluded. This springs up questions about the integrity of the election as there was no communication from the electoral committee on reasons or legalities for the delay. All eyes would be on the newly elected SRC members as we await their own interpretation of the law they had sworn to uphold.
By the way, their election result was also held which makes it all interesting and whatever the outcome is, looks set to be fascinating and would surely be a huge lesson in the political history of the faculty’s student unionism.