Ndifreke Jacob, Uyo.
Akwa Ibom State University (AKSU), Student Union President, Comrade Abasifreke Benson has come under public scrutiny over long list of aides published online.
AKSU SUG President, Benson published the release on his Facebook page on 15 July, 2023.
In the release, Benson disclosed that the 30 aides appointed are to aid him have a seamless administration.
Sworn in on 21st June, Benson becomes the 9th President of AKSU SUG since the establishment of the institution on September 10, 2010 by former Governor Godswill Akpabio.
Proposal for the establishment of the school was originally made by former Governor Arc (Obong) Victor Attah on October 18, 2000 when he inaugurated the Committee for its establishment.
The school located at Ikot Akpaden, Mkpat Enin and Obio Akpa, Oruk Anam Local Government Areas officially flung its doors opened for activities on 1st November 2010 with 300 students.
Professor Sunday W. Petters served as the substantive Vice Chancellor of the school then.
The appointment of 30 aides by Comrade Benson has sparked outrage from the public court who wonder what a President of a Student Union will be needing the aides for.
Reaction from the public against the List
Human Rights Lawyer, Inibehe Effiong who shared his thought on Monday, July 17 on Facebook asked, What will the President of the Union then be doing in view of this long list of “appointees and aides”?
Effiong disclosed he once served as served as Chairman, Students’ Representatives Council (SRC), Nigerian Law School, Lagos Campus and never had a single aide.
Effiong faulted the mainstream political landscape in Akwa Ibom State for the prevalence of such practices in student politics.
He lamented the emergence of a destructive political culture in Akwa Ibom State, where political appointments and proximity to power are viewed as the ultimate achievement in life.
This harmful culture has also permeated higher institutions, which is disheartening, according to Effiong.
Similarly, Public Affairs Analyst and Journalist, Mr Ofonime Honesty, stated that having numerous aides does not guarantee exceptional performance.
Honesty cautioned the public against being deceived by the numbers, stating that the AKSU SUG (Akwa Ibom State University Student Union Government) is the most passive, sycophantic, and politicized he has encountered.
Also, Cybersecurity Expert. Mr Charles Awuzie who commented on the matter, said ”this is exactly my point. Our problem is BOTTOM TO TOP…. not top to bottom.”
Give a little boy students Union President and he appoints a dozen special advisers etc and embezzles SUG funds”, he added.
Famous Cartoonist and Journalist, Mr Mike Asukwo on his part said, ”looks like a joke”.
Public Voices Support for AKSU President’s Appointment List
As the public outcry and backlash intensifies, several individuals have expressed their support, highlighting the advantages of implementing a government of inclusion and division of labor.
Mr. Enwongo Udoh, a Relationship Expert, raised the question of what is fundamentally wrong with dividing responsibilities and operating an inclusive government.
He argued that by delegating tasks, Comrade Benson could effectively manage multiple areas of interest while devoting time to more pressing matters, as well as his education and family.
Udoh emphasized that if this approach is not abused, it could be a valuable strategy for achieving more for the school.
Also, Mr. David Effiong, a former Director of Information at the University of Uyo, supported this perspective by stating that these appointments are not primarily about financial compensation.
Citing instances as a student leader, he said they serve as opportunities to empower supporters and aid in their personal development.
He added that the appointment acts as a training ground, leading to subsequent elected positions and significant personal growth as well as provide platforms for aspiring leaders to be discovered.
However, Godswill Tajudeen echoed these sentiments, stating that there is nothing inherently wrong with the appointments.
Tajudeen pointed out that leadership seminars and workshops often require significant fees, whereas these appointments offer a chance to learn and grow without financial burdens.
Other Instances that have Sparked Outrage online against student Presidents
On 13 October, 2021, social media was taken aback when the then University of Uyo, Female SUG Vice President, Blessing Jaja paraded a list of 18 appointed aides.
A decision that raised serious conversations on the public space on why the Vice President had more aides than the president himself.
Again, in December 5th 2022, another female Vice President of the Akwa Ibom Female Students Association Worldwide, Blessing Utibe paraded another list of 21 aides.