AN INTERVIEW WITH SUG PRESIDENTIAL ASPIRANT UBI E ONEN – SUG ELECTIONS UNICAL 2016
1. Can you please introduce yourself?
UBI:My name is Ubi Esua Onen, a 400 level student of the faculty of law, from Central Cross River State. Yakurr L.G.A.
Ubi: should I continue?
Yes you can go on.
Ubi: a former deputy senate president of SUG 2009/2010 Session. And currently step aside chairman SUG senate committee on finance and appropriation. And now aspiring for the office of the president.
Why this move from the legislature to the executive?
Ubi: this is my fourth time in the parliament as an SUG Senator. I had my first degree in education administration and English.
Did you serve concurrently?
Ubi: No, I served 3 terms in my first degree and for the fourth time in my current programme
What constituency are you representing?
Ubi: SUG Senator representing the faculty of law in student union government senate UNICAL
Now to the main point?
Ubi: As a principal officer, I am acquainted with the business of the SUG, In both the three (3) organs of government, because while serving in the parliament we still carry other quasi executive functions, as a law student that is for the judiciary, and I am abreast of the functions of these arms. We know the problems of students both in the hostels, and those who stay off campus, problems ranging from security, to transportation, to power, lecture rooms water and accommodation. To liaise with management to complete the projects in hall 2 and hall 6 and call the attention of the federal government to the abandoned NDDC hostel, close to the female hostel for onward completion. I am glad that we have an aluminous vice chancellor, who is open minded and ready to address the problems of Nigerian students, as he has always said that his watchword is ‘students first’, and that is why he has approved for 2 hostels including a post graduate hostel to be built. The above enumerated problems can be addressed in no time through negotiations, integration, dialogue and compromise and when one need is satisfied others would cease to be a motivator and students would rejoice with the administration.
2. There has been a rise in student protest in various universities across the country, (with the alleged death of a student leader of Uniport) what can you attribute to this?
Ubi: Sincerely I condemn in totality the extrajudicial killing of a Nigerian student, and may his soul rest in peace. I am not also in support of the SUG president mobilising students on a protest that went beyond the school campus, disrupting the peace of the state. One of the problems we are having in leadership is wisdom and in learning from experience. I expect leaders in all ramifications to embrace dialogue, which is recognized inter-state as the best weapon for conflict resolution. It is when it fails that a protest may ensue, that is the character I expect in a new SUG president.
Why we are having random protest in various campuses apart from the tuition fees, which is always on the increase due to introduction of levies is because of the infrastructural decay and lack of communication. Often times the management in most federal universities introduce new policies without involving or notifying the president of the SUG who by virtue of his office is the mouthpiece of the students. In some other hand they notify him of evolving changes but due to incompetence and ineffectiveness most of our union leaders fail to communicate back to the students, and that is why there are so many problems in the campuses.
3. With a look at the Uniport protest what do you think could have been done differently to prevent what happened? And role of security agencies in the protest?
Ubi: The permanent solution I would give is that federal government through ETF and other agencies should look into the plight of students. And that is through quick implementation of intended project, the tuition fee should be uniform, and not different from others. If there should be addition of any levy, such as development levy a communiqué should reach the students in time, and finally town hall meetings between the students and the management in order to create a harmonious relationship between both parties. And also union leaders should go for leadership training, so that they should be abreast of the trends in leadership capacity.
4. So far, it is becoming common place for union leaders to be suspended or moves for their impeachments being made what could be responsible for this?
Ubi: It’s a normal function and provision for the senate to checkmate the executives, if it is within the constitutional provision it remains valid or otherwise. Hence there is a need for cooperation between the legislature and the executives.
5. Senator UBI, could in your own terms define corruption?
Ubi: I think there are so many ways of defining the term corruption, because there is no definite definition of the concept of corruption. Various scholars and agencies like EFCC, ICPC and the criminal code have tried to give us a definition of the term. To me corruption could mean extortion, bribery, cheating, embezzlement of public funds, financial impropriety and squandermania.
6. Also we have noticed that financial mismanagement has been a central point around which moves for suspension or impeachment of union leaders from office, what is responsible? And how financial transparency can be achieved
Ubi: Corruption has eaten deep into the fabric of Nigerian youths because of poverty and greed. Today union leaders are unable to account for money released or appropriated for projects. And UNICAL SUG is not an exception and I think this is a very wrong habit and it could be corrected with disciplinary measures for the culprits. This is not the first time and neither is it peculiar to UNICAL for such instances to arise, it is in all universities. I think the parliament which is the vehicle for social control in the union should undertake quasi executive functions to ensure that the SUG executive implements their projects in time, with the approved session budgets. Who ever fails to do so would face the wrath of the law, because leadership comes with responsibility & accountability, since I believe the SUG is a training ground for future development.
In an event where you become president and students from the faculty are in or chair key committees or handle certain projects, what should be in the minds of UNICAL student community?
Ubi: I think there is no faculty of Law SUG, it is SUG UNICAL, and it comprises of the entire students. If I am opportune to become the SUG President, power would be centralised and we would have a unitary system of government where powers would be shared amongst all faculties and department. It is impossible for anyone to hold, believe, opine that if I am made president either the parliament, judiciary or any other office would be dominated by the faculty of law, because that would amount to a breach of confidence reposed in me.
We have had presidents emerging from the faculty of law, and this is yet another time, how many aspirants are from the faculty of law?
Ubi: I do not know, it is the CUECO (Calabar university electoral committee) that has the right to notify us of who and who is an aspirant or candidate for SUG presidency, in line with the provision of the CUECO Electoral guidelines. Having a candidate successively from any faculty is not the problem or aberration, what matters most is whether the candidate is resourceful, productive, creative and experienced to truly lead the students. The most important thing is that comrade Ubi Onen is a persuasive communicator, a creative thinker and a man vested leadership potentials and that is why this year’s electioneering is not about me or a faculty, but about we (collective students), and that is the platform on which my compass is built.
8. We know there are academic requirements and security clearance, are there any concerns that may affect your eligibility?
Ubi: There are conditions for eligibility to hold any office in the university and this is in line with the provisions of the SUG Constitution. As a past union leader I have not had any security issues for the period of time I have been around the walls of this environment. In 2012 convocation, I was awarded by the University B.Sc (Hons) with a 3.56 CGPA and that is a second class upper, not minding the level of my involvement in union. I still graduated amongst the best in my former department; I think the faculty of law would not be an exception. I have the academic requirements for the office I am about to contest, particulars shall be released to the CUECO via administrative means.
9. What do you think would the impact on welfare of students about the removal of certain structures within the campus, marked down by COBOC?
Ubi: The relocation if any is in existence should be a welcome development for us to have a grain and clean environment and of course, cleanliness is next to godliness. I presume the marked structures by COBOC, should be under the physical planning unit, and we can infer from other universities, like UNIPORT, UNIBEN, U.I and UNN, that they have a central place like a market where commodities are sold. This is a learning environment and not a market place and hence must maintain standard decorum, for learning to take place in a conducive environment in order to compete with other top ranking universities. Matters like noiseless environment within our lecture premises, libraries, and administrative buildings cannot be over emphasized, since the above mentioned are the live-wire for educational advancement and excellence.
10. As an SUG Presidential aspirant by what ideologies, tenets, principles and objectives would you run by if elected?
Ubi: Abraham Maslow 1945, posits that human needs are hierarchical in nature, this need range from safety and security needs, self-esteem needs, self-actualization needs e.t.c that when one set of need is identified and satisfied, others cease to be a motivator. And in the words of William Penn, the only reason why man should seek power should be to do more good albeit, and to me success is not measured by what we see around us but the people we have impacted on. If I am made president, I shall carry out my obligations in line with provisions of section 30 or 31, and section 4 (preamble of the constitution) which stipulates the aims and objectives of the student union government. I shall facilitate completion of abandoned hostels, to put a final rest to the issues of accommodation. The NDDC hostel which has been abandoned shall be a standard edifice before I hand over my administration to the next government. The issues of light and water, lightning of lecture rooms, transport system and student/staff relationship shall be addressed in 3 months from inauguration into office, as well as intellectual mobility apart from addressing the abstract welfare of students, I shall represent the SUG in both internal and external affairs. All associations on campus shall feel the impact of a true president, through accessibility, effectiveness, efficiency, responsibility and I shall be principled in all issues of dialogue, negotiations, integration, and compromise. And I shall re-awaken the consciousness of real unionism.
Thank you very much for your time, success in your endeavours.
Ubi: Thank you too.
Daniel Faithful is a 300l student of medicine and surgery, and a Campus journalist with Nigerian Union of Campus Journalist.