Being an exclusive interview with the outgoing President of Unilorin Students’ Union, Alao Idris popularly known as Observation held on Tuesday 20th July, 2016.
As the 2015/2016 S.U. administration winds off, the President in the person of Alao Idris shares his thoughts with UCJ UNILORIN on the ups and downs that characterized his tenure. This interview is split in three series – the first part covers his challenges, academic strive, and achievements. The second part bothers on reasons adduced for the delay in distribution of sweatshirts and PC tablets; and finally, part three hinges on his thoughts on the ‘no-more-chants’ and other sundry issues. Enjoy!
*UCJ UNILORIN:* Mr. President, now that your tenure is at its twilight, what were the challenges faced by your administration?
*ALAO IDRIS:* Thank you very much. It has been very challenging and hectic. Before now I’ve been living a tight schedule life. It has always been one schedule or the other. I’ve always been busy with several forms of activity. So, the only thing I could see is that I became busier than I used to be. So, for me, I do not see it as totally different experience in terms of the schedule because hitherto, I’ve always experienced being busy on campus. So many people can testify to that. So this time around, being President makes it so difficult to make up with appointments, make up with meetings, make up with classes and make up with deadlines. So, it’s been very hectic but I give glory to Almighty God that all this while God has been with me and my dedicated team members. I’m talking of the executive members and other principal officers of the Union. Thank God that we have been able to reach this stage so far.
*UCJ UNILORIN:* How then were you able to strike a balance between academics and the office you occupy as President of the Union?
*ALAO IDRIS:* Well, I must say that it has not been an easy experience and I must say that at a point (even at the beginning of the session) I was considering suspending my academic studies for a year to face this squarely. Because a professor actually said that it was better I do that so that I’ll have time in order not to fumble with grades. But as time goes on in first semester I realized that even if I’ll do that it is better I first of all register for the session. So, I registered and after the registration along the line I was having the feeling of, why should I even suspend it because all the courses, I had a good understanding of all what they entailed. I attended classes even though they were not regular because there’s no how it can be regular with this position. So, when I attempted the first exam, I was like, O no, there’s nothing worth me suspending it because I remember I did well (by my own judgment), I did well. I attempted my exams well.
But coming to second semester, it was sooo tight that I was irregular in the classes as compared to, I mean, my absence in the classes were not as…were less. My absence was more than the way it was in the first semester which implies that second semester is usually filled with activities as we know. So, by that it will be very tight for the Union to try to round off because most of our important programmes are in the second semester: the S.U Week, Leadership Summit, Women of the 21st Century and altogether with all other students’ association activities, inviting us to grace the occasion and so many other activities on campus. Even the University administration too has activities to do and have a time. So, it was very tight and I must say that it has always been, ahhh…God first, and other persons that also showed a great level of assistance and I know some of my colleagues in the classroom. I will not like to mention names in order not to offend the sensibilities of others. I know those who would call and say: hello, ‘ore’ please start coming, the class is commencing, where are you? Don’t forget this assignment, its starting now. I remember a very good friend (permit me to mention just one), Nissi Joshua. In fact, he would always say: how far? The assignment please. And there was one particular assignment that I missed, Nissi had to call me that he will help me see the lecturer on my behalf and the other persons who missed the assignment should form another group and do, and submit, and we did it, and the lecturer later collected it and I appreciated that gesture coming from the lecturer. So, that’s a colleague that has done well with me. Others have also done well and I say a big kudos to them.
*UCJ UNILORIN:* Did all these affect your grade because we are well aware that you were once a scholar in your class?
*ALAO IDRIS:* Well, truth be told: my involvement in politics since 300 level actually affected my grade. I had no doubt in mind that if I continued the way I had started from 100 level, I have no doubt that by now I would have been not only a university scholar but I will be having a first class CGPA. Because I know if I give it full attention, full! Maximum attention, my first class should not be negotiable. But then, it gets to a point in life, you undergo life beyond the four walls of the classroom. I have a passion for leadership. I believe that it’s not about the grade in this world again. The leadership qualification is something. Then I decided, ok, let me give it worth consideration. So I contested in 300 level and lost the election. That brought some emotional set backs to me because I was finding it very hard for me to read, to comprehend so much that when I walk around on campus, they say: that’s him, he lost the election. So that stigma, that stereotype was something that demoralized me. So, there were times when I’ll read and spend up to 30 – 40 minutes on a page and I will not comprehend anything. I may sleep off at some point and go back to read…
Soon, the good thing I’m happy about is that, fine, I dropped from being a university scholar, no doubt about that but up till now, I’m still happy that I’m still in 2.1, a second class upper grade and I hope that by the special grace of God I’ll still end up with that grade. That’s my prayer. Another thing that interest me and that I’m happy with is that all through the numerous activities I’ve involved myself on campus, I’ve never had just one carryover and I give thanks to Almighty God for this monumental feat.
*UCJ UNILORIN:* In terms of stock taking going backwards, what can you say are the achievements of your administration?
*ALAO IDRIS:* The first thing is reduction in school fees. We know there have been some past administrations in the Students’ Union that came on board and it was during their tenure that there was increase in acceptance fee. But we thank God that during our time there was a reduction in school fees. So, if any person gainsays that, please I urge them all to go and cross-check the payment made in the past years and now and see the difference. The second thing is that we organized a health-based programme which has never been done in the past. It was an unprecedented effort made by us and we pride ourselves with it. We did the maiden edition of Students’ Union Press Conference which was not done in the past…One thing I want people to know is that this Union has done so many firsts of its kind. Starting with the Press Conference that was the first time it will be done on campus. The second thing was the Breast and Cervical Cancer programme, first of its kind too. Then after that, we did the Unilorin Idol, a social event programme (first of its kind). Football Jog Training Exercise (first of its kind). We did aerobic exercise (first of its kind). We did Cultural Day Programme that was the first of its kind, we brough a fuji musician in the person of Dr. Saheed Osupa to thrill the audience, the first time a fuji musician will perform in a Nigerian university.
We also brought an important Nollywood actress who happens to be one of the top African actresses in Africa in the person of Funke Akindele, which was first of its kind. So, we did the leadership training programme which falls within the realm of human capacity development for all student leaders on campus at the beginning of the session. That’s about eight things that I have just mentioned. So, we are not mentioning those things that are already traditional programmes like the leadership training programme, Women of the 21st Century etc. If you look at the Women of the 21st Century, the caliber of persons that were invited: Dr. Aisha Yusuf, Coordinator of the ‘Bring Back Our Girls Campaign’ Dr. Joe Odumakin, ehhh…Joke Silva, the honoree was Senator Abiodun Olujimi representing Ekiti South…Don’t forget that during the Breast and Cervical Cancer Programme the Fist Lady of Kwara State was in attendance. Those were the things we did. Those are basically programmes that were meant to impact the lives of our members positively, and they did!
Because people keep remembering what they benefited from the leadership training program, The Breast and Cervical Cancer, we can keep mentioning on and on of these things we did…
On welfarism, we were always alert at the University Clinic in terms of emergency. I can’t count how many times I’ve had cause to, along with members of my Exco, to rush to other hostels to pick students to the clinic on emergency cases, even to Okeodo in town in the middle of the night at around 2 a.m. There was a case like that: we rushed to the place, that’s alert. And there are times when female students call on us, we go to the clinic to intervene on their behalf. And one of the recommendations that we have made to the VC as far as students are concerned is that the school administration should try and ensure that there should be at least two medical personnel on ground on weekends to attend to students especially during the examination period because, during the exam period, there’s always an influx of students going for medical treatment.
So, on welfare aspect… transportation especially, we did work on getting a replacement when *Simpli Move* left. And don’t forget that Simpli Move left largely because of the low returns, because the school bus was operating at #20 and Simpli Move #40 and that reduced its own possibility of getting more turn out. So, they left. Then we worked on how to attract another investor to the transport system on campus. The outcome of that was the SU intervention bus – that yellow long bus. That was our own brain child, what we were able to do on campus. So, the issue of transport on campus is a very technical one and it requires that we work altogether collectively as students of the university, to bring in transport companies that can be of help to solve the transport problem, because topographically, the University is a dead end. So when transporters come in the morning, they go empty in that same morning.
On academic, we were able to provide chairs and tables for the labs… which actually benefitted the students. Part of what we were able to do on the capital project, the SU is doing souvenir and it’s going to be available anytime soon. So, souvenirs still remain as part of the capital project. If you go to Zamfara hostel, there is a bore hole there donated by *Dr Bukola Saraki* but it became faulty this second semester. We repaired it as part of the capital project. We constructed water (sic) from the bore hole outside the Lagos male hostel, we run it inside the male hostel, and run it inside the Lagos female hostel so that our students can have access to portable water. These are part of our capital projects. An inscription is already there executed by the Student Union 2015/2016 Exco. And the renovation of the Student Union building is part of the capital project. We did a thorough renovation of the electrical runnings and we painted the building and we did the plumbing work. All the major changes done in the SUB are part of our capital project. And we also have a plan to construct a new relaxation centre at the College of Health Sciences. It’s underway and we hope to do the turning of the sword ceremony before we leave office. These are part of our achievements so far. Thank you.