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‘Male students encouraged me to contest’

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ObakpoloLauretta Obakpolo is a 400 level student of the Department of Pharmacy, University of Benin. She hails from Uhunmwonde Local Council of Edo State. Few days ago, she was elected the President, Student Union Government (SUG) of the university, having defeated five other male contestants. She tells ALEMMA-OZIORUVA ALIU at William Obong Secretariat (June 12 Building) seat of the SUG in UNIBEN, about her motivation, plans and how the battle was fought and won.

Motivation
It has been a passionate thing in me right from my secondary school days to go into politics, because I believe that politics is very good platform to contribute my quota to the society. School politics is a good platform to prepare one to face the outside world politics after school. It is a good training ground for those that intend to go into politics after school.

Intimidation
Intimidation is always there particularly in my own case, considering that I was contesting against five male contestants, but thank God for the intensity of the passion of the people around me. Majority of the people around me were actually men who were able to encourage me even when my faith almost failed. My passion to contribute my own quota towards making the society better also kept me going through the entire process.

Being scared of Losing
Right from the day I bought the form or right from the day I nursed the ambition, there was little of no fear because if I believe in something, if I want anything in life, once my heart is prepared for it, I get the inner strength to continue, fear of failure will cease to exist. At a point on the Election Day, I almost broke down. I became afraid because someone came to inform me that one of my opponents in one of the voting centres has already scored over 3,000 votes. I was like if a candidate in his own polling unit has gotten over 3,000 votes, how will I from small Pharmacy department, in terms of number, score that number of votes. That was the only place my faith failed, but thank God like I said before, I had strong people around me they noticed that I was falling and they quickly took me out of the place.

Relationship With Contestants
Personally, before now, throughout our clearance and then campaigns, I have always maintained a cordial relationship with them from my own part. I don’t know what they think, I don’t know what they have in mind but I believe on my own part, we will still go together. I told them in the meeting we held on Sunday that I will want them to be a part of the administration because I believe before they went to get their forms, they had something in mind no matter how small for the UNIBEN students. So I believe with their collaboration they can still help us get those things done to better the lot of the students.

Programmes For Students
We have programmes and projects already on ground that we are working on and we want to put the blueprint down, but all our programmes will be centred on improving the average UNIBEN student in the area of academics, our social life, our financial life and our environment so that at the end of the day, the average UNIBEN student would have gotten something from this administration.
Low Influence Of Students’ Union Leaders In Nigeria Today

What we will have to first of all do is to bring unity to the student union body. There is division in the students’ union. There is division among the union leaders, now if we can come together with one voice, then we can fight together when there is need to do that.

For example in NANS today, within every union that make up the body, we have divisions, that is why when the union leader says something, before you know it, the information is already in the public domain. They call them snitches and before you know, plans are frustrated. But for us to make progress, we should first be united. The factions among us is becoming too much and a divided house cannot stand.

Academic Instability In Tertiary Institutions
I think both parties should please understand that, as at today, education is the most useful tool. So if they want to jeopardise education, it will affect every aspect of the country, so they should please remember the value of education and the government should also understand that lecturers are doing their best to impact on the students. They should strive to strike a balance between their needs and their efforts and the managers of these tertiary institutions should understand that they can manage the little resources available to get the best so that the students will not suffer because our future depends on their unity.

Cultism
I believe what we need is proper orientation. Many people don’t know what they’ve entered at this particular time. Some go there with little or no knowledge of what they are doing. I think they should take their orientation to the grassroots. Before now, universities used to be the platform through which they are recruited but now they go to our secondary schools, they are now into it even in primary schools. So, I believe grassroots orientation is what we need from the primary schools, secondary schools and then universities and it should be a frequent exercise. We should tell them the danger rather then telling them to shun it. Like those of us in Pharmacy department, when we know adverse effect of a particular drug, we watch how we use it.



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