By Salman Ibrahim
Ahead of the April 20 University of Ilorin Students’ Union election, the Union of Campus Journalists, Unilorin chapter (UCJ-UNILORIN) on Friday conducted screenings for the aspirants vying for positions in the 2021/2022 administration.
The screening process popularly known as Press Night is an event annually organized by the Unilorin Independent Student Electoral Commission (UISEC) and executed by UCJ-UNILORIN as part of the electoral process that lead to the elections into offices of the successive administration.
This year, five presidential candidates presented the themes of their campaign. This article will however provide a brief overview of the Press Night and it significance on the electoral process.
Typical of the University of Ilorin student’ unionism, the Press Night is the penultimate in a trilogy of major campaign moments in the university as always scheduled by the UISEC. The other events are, of course, the presentations of candidates’ manifestoes which usually take place at Students’ Union Building (SUB), and the often anticipated Presidential Debate, which traditionally takes place in the University main Auditorium. The existential essence of the Press Night is constutionally to project the test the cognitive capacity vis-a-vis the individualities of all aspirants.
In line with this, this year’s Press Night generally focused attention on scrutinizing the manifestoes of aspirants, examining their cognitive strengths, and putting their personalities to test in order to guage their level of tolerance. Over all, the Press Night presented a remarkable moment wherein candidates were were thoroughly grilled in order to separate the shafts from the grains.
This process assumes importance because it presents a unique opportunity for the electorates to see their candidates perform for a prolonged time under the pressure that manifests from a panel of individuals who are ideally assumed to be a representation of the reality the incoming executive might have to contend with.
This year, in fairness, the candidates tried their best in presenting themselves as plausible students representatives in the eyes of reachable voters. However, the electorates display of support to their various preferred candidates, and their display of ‘loyalties’, can be easily summed to be a hindrance to getting a maximum benefit of the program. That is, it became void to reflect upon how beneficial the agendas and individualities of the candidates are to the entire student populace.
An instance of this was how some supporters reacted when trio of the presidential aspirants; Jimoh Toheeb Mayowa, Owoseni Adegoke Israel, and Taofik Waliu Opeyemi, were asked to leave the podium for violating the rules given by the press night committee. They submitted their manifestoes later after the stipulated time.
However, the event, which has been the main stage of political debate, has generated an intense discussion on Twitter and its results which have since early hours of yesterday come out promised not to take a central role in deciding the 34th Students’ Union President.