I Made Promises Forgetting That I Am Not The President — Bakre Ibrahim Oladele, Former SUG General Secretary

The Press Crew recently had an interview session with with former SUG General Secretary, Bakre Ibrahim Oladele and here comes the outcome. Read after cut…

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Press Crew: Can we meet you sir?

Bakre: My name is bakre Ibrahim Oladele, HND 2 student of Mechanical Engineering, Power and Plant option. I had the privilege to be the General Secretary of the Students’ Union Government, The polytechnic Ibadan, 2017/2018 academic regime, under the leadership of Comrade Kuyoro Emmanuel.

Press Crew : Students as they are, whenever they cast their votes for newly executives, they expect to see a tangible project being executed as a dividend of their votes, but unfortunately, they haven’t see any. Also to remind you sir, you’re one of the principal officers who should know whatever may have been the cause for this. So in lieu of this, what can you say concerning that sir?

Bakre : Let me begin with this, that unionism is different from governance. In a governmental system in which Nigeria practices federalism, the president has the right to do and undo. In unionism, as I’ve seen, known and heard so far, Unionism is about the president alone, the president has the utmost right to command. The president is the driver of the union. On the president’s hand lies the key to the union, which is the union funds. So far, I’ve deduced that all the other members of the students union government work for the president. So, being the general secretary, I tried my best because I can’t push for the execution of a project all by myself. I can’t fight for the welfarism of the students all by myself. So in Unionism, it is concerned with the partial welfarism of the students, because in the real sense, the management owns the students. Basically, Students Unionism is just like the voice media of the students to the management of the school.

Let me cite an example, during our regime, an issue about the entrepreneurship scheme was raised up and we fought for it, so, those are among the things we can do. In regards to the president, he has the utmost right to do anything that he wants to. A president can work as a General Secretary, he can work as the social director, treasurer, financial secretary, or any other member of the union. But for all this to work in accordance to the name we are given, Unionism, the president should give each office the liberty to carry out their duties. At the same time, the president must checkmate all their activities. The president must be the driving factor of the union. In a situation where we have a president who is not plain and straightforward, the union will have a problem.

On the fact that our regime don’t have a tangible project, let me clear my own quota as the General Secretary. Let me refer you to the constitution of the Students’ Union Government, the duties of the General Secretary is to take correspondence, documentation of files and the likes. My office does not sign the bill to execute a project. If I bring a suggestion of something that will bring benefits to the entirety of the students, if the president says no to it, then it is NO. Especially if it is a president that runs a pseudo-democratic system, any other member of that union can’t have a say, except if it is in accordance with their primary objective. E.g A president cannot antagonize a social director whose primary objective is to see to the actualization of freshers night and SUG week, but unlike the general secretary who doesn’t have a specific project attached to its office. Assuming we have a president that welcomes ideas from members, a straightforward and faithful president, whom when you submit ideas, he’ll reason along with it and accede to it. 

For example, though our administration is short of funds, but peradventure there’s a laid down project in which you attempt and try to furnish it, as the saying goes thus, there’s continuity in governance, the students will see it that the administration tried to do one or two things, but they are just short of funds. For example, I gave them an idea that a toilet facility had been built four years ago, and it has not been working, so let us finish that project, and the completion of the project requires just little amount of money which can’t be a burden for the union, but since I raised the suggestion, nothing has been done on it, maybe the president thought it is from someone else’s constituency, which isn’t supposed to be. There are many ideas like that which I gave but weren’t welcomed. So, that is the part I played in the administration. But I pray in the future to come, the general secretary will have a better platform to carry out their duties of office.

Press Crew : I must tell you that secretaries outside this coffers are recognised. They are the Chief administrator of an association. In lieu of that, I want you to critically give response to this question. Are you not being protective as honouring this interview? In the sense that are you not protecting yourself against whatever may be coming against this past administration?

Bakre: I am not coming out to cover myself, during the time we assumed office, I let people know that I am here to serve them, and thank God I was able to do so. It is not good to be boasting of one’s achievements, but people who know, know. In terms of infrastructures, I designed many things for them, they don’t take it. I am not coming out to cover myself, but this is a democratic world, and it is just so good to let people know what has happened. In a true government, people should be aware of the activities of their government, because they installed them. Please note that in leadership, we have the leader and the followers. The followers are always better than the leaders. So, a good leader must always allow the followers to rule.

Press Crew: During the handing over ceremony, only the speaker was in attendance at the commencement of the program while the outgoing executives didn’t show up, you as one of the principal officers of the union, what could have been the reason for the outgoing executives not to show up?

Bakre : Time is very essential in any administrative duties. Let me give a reference to the incidence. I read a book titled 48 laws of power, and among the laws says “don’t outshine the master.” on that day, I was at the union building along with the other executives waiting for the president, and in such ceremony, it is known that the outgoing president will have a speech to deliver. With that we awaited the arrival of the president, so that the executive can go in mass to the ceremony. Because, on that day, I had a perception that if I were to be present at the beginning of the program, and it turned to the president’s time to give his speech, in his absence and that of the two vice presidents, tentatively, I will be called upon to deliver the speech, and I believe that I am not in the position to give such speech because I am not the president. If I wanted to be the president, I would have vied for the post. So, with that, that’s his own duty to discharge. As at the time that we saw that this thing was denting our image, that was when I led the other executives to the programme. So the main reason we were not available when the programme commenced was that we were waiting for the president.

As at the time the program commenced, everyone of the executives was calling the president but he wasn’t picking up, and I, as the General Secretary will never step in his shoes, because I am not the president. After two months that we started the regime, people called me from outside the campus that you’re being heard here and there, are you the president? You can imagine such strong allegation. And why I had done those was because of what I had in me that I’ve come here to serve the students. But since persistent calls came in reiterating that “am I the president?” I decided to back down, and since then I made up my mind that never will I step in his shoes. On that day, if I had led the executives to the programme, many will have asked that am I trying to become the president? or do I want to outshine the president? That’s just it.

Press Crew : You mentioned that finance is the major setbacks faced by this previous administration, how would you advice the present executives? Also, out of what you’ve responded to, you mentioned clash of interest, not boycotting other offices, things like these are part of the flaws of your administration, how best can you give advice to this present executives so that the students who subscribe to the students’ union pulse won’t suffer?

Bakre : As the name implies, student Unionism, different people coming together to work on a particular assignment. My advice for them is very simple, and the advice goes to the president. The president should try as much as possible to be transparent, He should carry all members of the executive along on anything he does. He mustn’t see himself as the sole driver of the union. We were voted for and not appointed, but if not because of the constitution, every office should have been acting as the president. But in a situation where the president sees himself as the president, and he believes he can do every other thing by himself, then the administration will have problem. And as the president, he should give liberty to other offices to carry out their operations without interference. A president must give a sense of belonging to his general secretary that you’re my secret officer, and I can confide in you. As one of my co-executives do say, the general secretary is the power house of the union, but that’s if the president gives the chance for it. So, a union without all those will not be in accordance and thus, will always have a problem.

Press Crew : From the summary of your words, you said the president runs a pseudo-democratic system which in my own term, I see it as an autocratic system, does this incite that all other members of the union are just figure heads?

Bakre : A pseudo-democratic system is not an autocratic system, it is called exploitative-authoritative leadership. This is a kind of leadership in which the president can be regarded as an actor. The president will accommodate and listen to whatever you want to say, but he won’t make use of it. So it is not an autocratic system, it is an exploitative-authoritative leadership. It is also a behavioural type of leadership.

Press Council : Hope you know that when the president succeeds, other members of the executive succeed as well, and when the president fails, so are the other executives, they’ve failed. And in the students’ perspective, they won’t see it as that Kuyoro failed, but that the administration failed. As at the time you saw things were not going the right way, what steps did you take? Because you’ve only shared with us the ideas you’d given indoor, what steps did you take outdoor before the handing over ceremony?

Bakre : It is the critical people who understand government that will say the administration failed. Majorly, the layman will say Kuyoro failed. Nobody will castigate Babatunde Raji Fashola that he fails, people will castigate Buhari instead. So, as I have said, only critical thinking people will say we all failed. So what did I do externally? At a point in time, I so much believe in constructive criticism. I personally wrote some things that if it went public, it will prompt the president that it seems people see us that we are not doing good. Don’t forget I said earlier on that if you have a good idea, if the president doesn’t sign on the idea, it’s nothing, and peradventure that you’re prolonging matters in the union, it will seem as if a member of the executives is antagonizing the president. This is just student Unionism, we shouldn’t do things that’ll portray us as lifetime enemies. And the other side of the students is that if you kill yourself for the students, students will still say you’ve done nothing for them. In that kind of situation, if one thinks deeply, then, one may come to the fact that it doesn’t worth fighting for. And then you’ll go your own pace, that the regime will soon be over and other people will take over. If I tried to fight the president, we might not have landed safely as we just did because I know my ability and capability to drive a motive.

Press Council : You’ve been talking about project and the likes. But there is one thing students expect, it’s a yearly norm, and that’s the Souvenir. So what exactly is happening or has happened in regards to that?

Bakre : As I had said earlier, I was the General Secretary. Till today, I don’t know the contractor to which the souvenir is given to. Which basically means I don’t know the status of the souvenir. What we were being told was that the process of making it is ongoing. As the General secretary, don’t I have the right to know the contractor? But I don’t know because I was not told. So if I say they are making the souvenirs, I just said it, and if I say otherwise, I just said it because it’s something I don’t have knowledge about. And lastly, I wrote in my handing over speech that I made promises forgetting that I am not the president.

Press Council : Thank you very much Mr Bakre. It’s really an honor to have conducted this interview with you. We want to appreciate you for giving us that regard as the mouthpiece of the students. I want to tell you vividly that beyond any doubt, we are trying our best to speak for the student. We may not have the financial capability, but we are doing our best. So we thank you as you honour our invitation and has come to the press council.

Credits: PRESS Council, TPI
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