By Rukayat Ogunlana
The University of Ilorin Students’ Union political aspirants on the 19th of April participated in the Presidential Debate organised by 7th Sense which held at the university auditorium.
The debate which was a round-up of all preparatory activities (campaign, manifesto, press night) preceding the actual election process was organised by 7th Sense, an organization currently headed by Adebayo AbdulRahman, a 500level law student of the institution and founded in 2011 to test and assess presidential candidates in particular ahead of elections.
At the start of the debate, the candidates; Ozizi Elijah (Ozizi), Gbenga Ibitoye (Ibitoye), Owoseni Adegoke (Owoseni), Taofiq Waliu (Omoluabi), and Jimoh Toheeb (Jackson) after introducing themselves were told the rules of engagement and afterwards drilled with critical thinking themed questions.
Jimoh Toheeb when asked if he would agree with the mandate of Covid 19 vaccine, had he been compelled by the University management to do so, he affirmed that though everybody is entitled to making decisions that best benefit them when issues arise that require collective decision-taking as it has to do with lives. He further said that dialogue, orientation and persuasion will be employed to make sure that decisions made would be in the interests of all.
“Though we are imperfect, the strength of others will make us perfect,” said Omoluabi when asked what imperfections could deter him from qualifying for the presidential post
During the second round of questioning where aspirants were tasked to discuss topics given to them. Ibitoye while discussing on ‘Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely” said: “Power doesn’t change people, power only amplifies the personality of a person”.
Owoseni when asked his thoughts on the push for the resignation of the Communication Minister (Issa Ali Pantami), he said that the Minister hasn’t done anything that warrants him to resign.
In the next round of questioning, the aspirants were further questioned on how they’ll work for the good of students, here are highlights of what the candidates said. As regards improvement of electricity issues on campus, Ibitoye affirmed that he’d “Partner with the department of works to ensure the sustainability of electricity”. Ozizi while talking about how he’ll ensure justice for any student falsely accused of examination malpractice, he said: “I’ll gather evidence and make sure that proper investigation is made”.
“It’s a triangular affair; the student union, the school management and the students” Owoseni on how he’ll ensure that students have a right to a fair hearing. He further said that he’ll ensure every student gets a chance to be heard.
The aspirants also debated for or against the motions “Death penalty, a justifiable punishment” and “Rustication, a justifiable punishment for disobedience of dress code regulations”. All aspirants were given two minutes each to debate on the topics they went for or against.
On the feedback mechanism the candidates intended to employ “if” elected into Office, they had these to say: “I’ll make sure there are regular faculty talks to discuss and also ensure that faculties that seem to be neglected start to have a say and are heard” Omoluabi emphasized.
Ibitoye on the other hand talked about “Monthly & Bi-monthly visits to Faculties” to check the situation of things and listen to what the students have to say. Ozizi while answering the same question mentioned the “commissioning of a phone line to accept feedbacks from students”.
While discussing practical steps to take to fix issues around the campuses, Omoluabi mentioned the introduction of the solar street light to fix security issues, light up the school environment and aid security. He also suggested the construction of ‘bumps’ to curb the over speeding of motorists around the Bakery towards the Private Hostels side of the school.
Addressing how they’ll ensure an inclusive government for students with special needs, Jackson mentioned “integrating special needs students into every activity of the union” while Ibitoye said he’d previously “co-sponsored a bill in the University Senate for the compulsory inclusion of special needs students in committees”. Omoluabi said: “I’ll open the office of the Special Adviser to the President on special needs” to give a chance to hear the pain points of special needs students. Ozizi added that he’d started learning sign language already so he’d consolidate on that and act with representatives of special needs students to ensure an all-inclusive administration.
Towards the end of the debate and questioning, the aspirants were asked to mention one of their flaws, Omoluabi pegged his to be “the curiosity to always know more”, “Perfectionism and being emotional” said Ozizi. Owoseni said he was “an urge to satisfy all” while “selflessness” was Ibitoye’s response and Jackson also added that perfectionism was indeed his flaw.
The aspirants were asked questions from the students through the Twitter app, using the hashtag #Unilorindecides21 & #MrPresido. The hashtags which got so many engagements and eventually trended on Nigerian Twitter space, the second time it will be happening after the Press night on 15th April trended too.
The event had in attendance the Dean of Student Affairs, Professor Ajibade and Mr Alex Akanmu and Dr A.S Alabi, the Sub-Deans of the Main campus and Basic Medical Sciences campus respectively. The Current Student Union President, Okoko Wisdom was also present at the event.