Undergraduates demand sovereign, independent SUGs in schools
Student Union Government (SUG) is an umbrella association of students in tertiary institutions of learning, with the main focus on promoting and protecting the interest of its members among other objectives.Universally, the original intent of SUG is to represent fellow students, as well as play the role of watchdog in checking the activities of the universities management.
Today, SUG have drifted from being the voice of the students and an intermediary between the students and the institution, as many SUG leaders and representatives are now driven by avarice.Prevalent in most institutions is the lapdog system; where the universities management calls the shots and the so-called student leaders are at their beck and call.
On the other hand, the students’ body has also on many occasions incited students to ignorantly rebel against the institution.However, just as the act of governance varies from institution to institution, some students who spoke with The Guardian on the activities of their SUG are pleased, while others want it reformed or abolished.
For a medical student of University of Benin (UNIBEN), Jeff Uduehi, “In the first place, SUG is supposed to represent students and act as a bridge between the gap. But if the bridge is faulty, students will always suffer the most. I do not expect any human system to be utopian, but I think there’s a level of commitment both sides should put to it. It should not be that the motivation would be what they will gain materially or socially, but the resolve to represent and stand up for the interest of their fellow students.”
Aigberua Prudence, also from UNIBEN, said, “the SUG in my school collaborates with the authorities to make our lives more miserable. Most of the students in the union are in it just for the money.” Adeyemi Mariam, a student from Fountain University, Osogbo, said the university’s management manipulates the student leaders in her school and they are in no way their representatives.
She said: “They are puppets of the management, whatever they are asked to do, they do it without asking or protecting the students.” She added that the management appoints these persons according to their academic performance and most times they are not competent to control and manage the position. “But what do we even expect from people that we did not even vote to represent us? The system needs to do better for us, we should be allowed to choose our representatives, we know them better and we know who can represent us better.”
For some other students, the SUG is being marginalised and thus are not sovereign. Ajayi Ifeoluwa, from the University of Ilorin is one of those students who shared such sentiments. “The SUG does not really represent us because the system does not permit it, the executives have to thread softly or they will have to face the consequences. The management should give them the opportunity to do what they were elected for and the SUG too should not overdo it when they are given the power.”
Folaranmi Sodiq describes the SUG at the Lagos State University, (LASU), Ojo as a fortress. “Here, they try their best and the management have been very supportive as they try as much as possible to listen to our demands and make sure they are met.”A student from the Ambrose Alli University, Egheosa Ifada described the students governing body in his school as opportunists and egocentric. He said, “They do absolutely nothing with the power conferred on them to help the students’ community. They are experts in grabbing anything that comes to their table.”
Ayoola Oreoluwa, a student from the Tai Solarin University of Education (TASUED), described the body as figureheads and thus should be abolished.
“The SUG is so many things to students in various institutions, but most of these student leaders have not lived up to expectations owing to the undemocratic nature of the university system, criminal disposition of some of the students’ representative, their incompetence and mediocrity.
“To help relieve the system from these harrowing issues, a body should be set up to perform checks and balance duties to help regulate the duties of the SUG and their relation with the university’s management. The university system should also be democratised and promote an egalitarian students community.”
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