Re: OAU Students' Union: The Audacity Of Hope?

By Abiodun Omonijo

Every civilization finds it necessary to negotiate compromise with its own values.---- Golda Meir

I have heard many statements both against and in favour of the controversial bus given to the Obafemi Awolowo University Students' Union by a former Senator of the Federal Republic and a current contender in the Osun State gubernatorial race, Sen. Iyiola Omisore. But one which struck me and which I have decided to respond to is one written by my friend, Sam Adegbola in the August 6 issue of The Nigerian Voice, in the 'Opinion' segment titled "OAU Students' Union: The Audacity of Hope?".

To start with, let us take a political look at the situation that has caused so much rancho. Right, all steamed from the historical perspective that the former Senator had once been declared a 'persona non grata' in the university premise by former Students' Union leaders, but curiously, that history does not tell us why. Is it because the then senator underperformed in his office? Was corrupt? If yes, that action may be justified, but how many other politicians have been so declared, for political inertial is common phenomenon with our current leaders.

On the contrary, we see other politicians even with worse traits parading the university campus on invitation of several bodies and been welcomed with open arms. Are we even sure Sen. Omisore's declaration as a 'persona non grata' was not politically motivated and orchestrated by then Union leaders on the order of their paymasters. Come to think of it, Adelu Monehin James drove away a serving Senator and went unhurt, yet, Akinola Saburi spent six month at Ilesha maximum security prison after his confrontation with the EFCC Chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, on the same Obafemi Awolowo University campus. Laughable!

Also, are we to say that the gift of a bus is sufficient to buy the minds of an entire community as intelligent and radically-minded as that of the Great Ife community? Never! So why the unease? It would be a different matter if the President of the Union had been given a personal gift for certain favours such as declaring support for a political party in the name of the Union, but that hasn't happened. So it would be very misleading to conclude that the current leadership of the Great Ife Students' Union took the gift of a bus in order to "sell" the Union.

As a matter fact, what do you do when you are given an item you desperately need which all the Students' Union alumni including those who declared a person a 'persona non grata' cannot provide? Welcome it with open arms, and that does not mean the benefactor would not be criticised as at when due. To those who also demand a congressional resolution before such gift could be received, I ask if a Congress can be called when the school is not in session, especially at this time. Should the leadership then ask a giver to wait till such Congress is conveyed? Of course not.

Nevertheless, I'm not saying Sen. Omisore is the best man in the world or has answers to the minutest of issues, but each epoch should not move blindly with traditions, rather, they should define their own stance, amend broken bridges and not widen them. If we must move forward, it cannot be done by maintaining a stance of aggression with everyone in the society as some elements would prefer.

At this juncture, I want to enjoin the leadership of the Students' Union to stay focused on their call, barring all criticisms.

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