… Announces eligibility for voting
…No student’s blood is worth spilling for Student Unionism
Ndifreke Jacob, UYO.
As students of College of Education, Afaha Nsit continue to count days to the Student Union Government Elections, Provost of the institution, Dr. Daniel Udo has stressed that the security and peace enjoyed in the school will not be jeopardized on the altar of ethnic divisibility.
Udo gave the charge on Tuesday during a town hall meeting with students and management of the institution, in reaction to the rumoured ethnic power play in the planned SUG elections.
Udo while addressing in emphatic terms why one of the presidential candidates (Comr. Israel Nathaniel), was screened out from participating in the exercise, explained that the said student was indicted by a security detailed report to be a threat and not fit to lead the hierarchy of the student body after military regalia and insignia were found in his possession.
The CoE Provost explained that the security agents had advised the management to disqualify the said candidate, hand him over to the police for further investigation; but was shocked last Friday to discover the same candidate despite the warning by the police was enlisted as an agent for another presidential candidate by the electoral umpire.
According to Dr. Udo, the discovery did not sit well with the management and faulted a compromise on the part of the electoral umpire who were expected to remain neutral in the exercise. He explained that the discovery had prompted the postponement and disbandment of the electoral body last week Friday and raised further concern for proper security and modalities to be sorted by management to aid the success of the election on the new date.
Further, Udo revealed that the decision to have the student investigated was based on reports received by the security agents and primarily to help maintain the existing peace and decorum in the school, not to incite any ethnic divisibility among the students or management.
He said, “we have enjoyed peace in this school and particularly in Akwa Ibom State. Therefore the peace enjoyed in the state must not be taken for granted. If there’s report of security threat, it does not spare anybody. Management in its responsibility cannot watch that happen or see the signs and ignore it”.
Udo hinted that the College of Education under his led administration was too level headed and few to be divided by ethnicity, as he and his management team have no personal interest in the student elections but was only interested in the peaceful disposition of the school.
While debunking the rumour that management’s endorsement of a certain candidate was the reason behind Nathaniel’s disqualification from the race, Dr. Udo stressed that the rumour was unfounded, lies and peddled by ‘fools’ whose purpose is to tear the peaceful fabric of the institution. He maintained that management will in its capacity and responsibility not tolerate such level of misinformation in the school.
“The Management of Akwa Ibom State College of Education takes no interest in whoever emerges the President of the students’ Union and other exco members. Whosoever emerges, the management is willing and ready to work with such person. All we owe the students is a free, fair transparent and democratic process”. He said.
Also debunking the rumour of increasing school fees of the institution to frustrate students out of the exercise, Dr. Udo maintained that ‘there was no way fees can be increased in a government owned institution without approval from the government.”
Meanwhile, the College Provost, who threw an olive branch to both the students and aspirants, reminded them that no student’s blood was worth spilling for an election, adding that student unionism was only a part of extra-curricular activity and doesn’t form part of job criteria after graduation.
He noted, “the primary reason of being in school is academic pursuit. Student union election is one of the extra curricular activities. What offers you job in the labour market is your certificate and degree not your level of involvement and engagement in SUG election”.
Speaking on the modalities put on ground to ensure a level playing field is given to all the candidates in the race, Dr. Udo said,”I can stake my integrity, before you and the management that the election will follow due process. I have involved myself in many elections and the outcome has always been successful. I cannot trade my reputation for a mere election in Afaha Nsit.”
On eligibility of voters, Dr. Udo stressed that only students who have paid their fees in full from 2019-2021 will be eligible to vote or allowed into the school premises and that only staff involved in the electoral process will be permitted into the school compound.
The CoE however advised the students not to allow anyone mislead or derail them from achieving their collective destinies, but should contest and go about their legitimate business within the ambit of the law.
Setting the tone earlier at the meeting, the Dean of Student Affairs, Dr. Ubong Silas hinted that the meeting was bore out of the need to have both students and management interface and thinker on issues that will translate to the growth and harmonious existence of the institution.
Dr. Silas called for peace from all quarters and assured the students that management will continue on their part to ensure their protection and academic pursuit in the institution is utilised within the timeframe of their stay.
The meeting was heralded with salient questions and concerns raised by some students and a point of consensus reached by both students and management to uphold the tenets of the school during and after the election.
Present at the Town Hall meeting were, Deputy Provost Administration, Dr. Edo Obot Ekanem, Deputy Provost, Academics, Dr. Albert Archibong, Registrar, Barr. Augustine Udoibit, Dean of Students Affairs, Dr. Ubong Silas, Bursar Mr. Emmanuel Clement Akpan, Librarian, Dr. Michael Okon, Director of Medical Services, CSO, CSP Sam Ediette (rtd.) SUG President, Comrade Ubong Godwin and his Executive, Members of the Parliament, the Judiciary arm and the other students.