It is a common knowledge that ABU Zaria is currently using the SRC (Students representative council) as its central union. It may come as a surprise if a student doesn’t know about SRC and all their methods of rule, but trust me it is no surprise considering the fact that the whole thing is virtually done underground. In this piece, I would critically examine and detect the weaknesses in the whole system.
Firstly, the SRC is the central body of students and is responsible for the welfare of all the undergraduate students in the institution. As the name aptly describes, it is primarily composed of representatives from all the 12 faculties and colleges of the institution.

Each faculty is entitled to one faculty chairman, and a faculty representative, selected by the class reps of all the various departments in that faculty. Some of the faculty reps go on to be elected to serve the executives of the SRC egg president, sec gen etc. while the rest simply serve as ex officio. The president appoints special advisers and members of various committees such as the Task force, social, welfare, sports, health and other committees. This in turn completes the 66-man council. Now one may wonder why this so called ‘representative council’ sounds fragile .Below are some of the reasons.

Firstly, both the chairman and representative of each faculty are elected by class reps of the various departments in the faculty. When one intends to contest for one of the coveted seat, he first contacts the class reps and seeks for their support and mandate. Unfortunately, some of the class reps (am not saying all) can be easily floored and get carried away with the false promises some of the candidates promised them in their course of their campaign. Some may decide to vote for personal acquaintances, thereby advocating the acquaintance trumps competence policy which may only results in the election of selfish and incompetent leaders .

This needs to be addressed. To address the debacle of the class reps, the whole election (or selection) process of the class reps should be regulated and monitored so that only capacitated personnel are selected. A committee on the selection of individuals (as the case is in some faculties) might be a good idea. As far as corrupt incompetent individuals are selected as class reps, the whole system is bound to fail.

Another factor that may lead to the fragility of the whole system and possibly the collapse of the system if care is not taken is that the selection process (I won’t call it election) is mediated or co-ordinated by some selected powerful individuals. The influence of stakeholders, Godfathers, school management, other associations (religious bodies inclusive) is a threat to the whole system. The influence of the school management can be better understood by the recent case where the selection process was shifted to second semester without due consideration the negative effects this may result to. The recent cases of disqualification of candidates by some religious bodies may also be a good example. To address this situation, the whole process should be transparent and as fair as possible. It’s not like one betting game. We’re in the 21st century and in a democratic world for god sake. Leaders cannot emerge through consensus only (as in the case in some faculties.)They need to be voted for. We need to elect our leaders. For this to happen, the whole process should be transparent and not mediated by anybody, the school authority inclusive.

The current rotation policy employed in the SRC and in many other state associations may also contribute to the fragility of the system. I have always said this and will continue to say this unless some change is exerted here; this current rotation policy between the two or three campuses of the instruction breeds nothing but emergence of incompetent leaders. I still don’t get how Samaru campus (main campus) which is almost as trice (or more) the size of Kongo campus gets to share the presidency on alternate years together. This may be equality, but not necessarily equity. If justice should be done, the main campus should hold power for at least two years (or three) before the from Kongo campus are given a chance. Also, the number of incompetent candidates fielded would be reduced on both sides. Now don’t misunderstand or misquote me, (well do so if you like , it’s a free world) but I have nothing against those from the latter campus nor any personal ambition. Just trying to make common sense.

The common belief on the minds of the leaders, that they won’t be held responsible by the whole populace but only by some selected individuals also contribute to the disregard of the whole system. Sensing that no any real pressure maybe mounted on him either by the class reps or the whole faculty, a leader may decide to do as we wishes even if it goes against the requests of his subjects. Also, the myopic thinking on the part of the followers, that since they didn’t exactly vote for them, they can’t hold them answerable is also a factor. This single factor may undermine the whole representative selection process if care is not taken. Our people should therefore be encouraged to be more politically inclined, active conscious and be aware of all the happenings in the government .Only through that can they be aware of the positive things happening, and stand up against the negative aspects. If after all measures are taken, and still incompetent or corrupt leaders emerge it’s our duty right to stand up to them and Am not talking about staging a protest here .Only through this would the leaders feel truly accountable to their actions and not serving as the mouthpiece of the management.
I believe it is our collective duty, you and I to prevent this system from decaying. I believe the measures mentioned here (and those not mentioned here) if properly implemented may exert a positive effect.

I promise to dwell more on the last point on my subsequent article. Long live the students of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria.

Abdallah Malumfashi can be reached via [email protected]

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