University of Lagos,
University of Lagos
NOW THAT THE DRAFT OF THE STUDENTS' UNION CONSTITUTION IS OUT
Next Step is Conduct of Elections
Recently the management of the University of Lagos inaugurated the Constitution Drafting Committee to draft for students of the institution a "suitable constitution" for the students' union, which is supposed to be a step towards the reinstatement of a Students Union on the campus after over one decade of proscription. About two weeks after its inauguration, the committee has drawn out a proposed constitution for the University of Lagos Students' Union (ULSU).
First and foremost, the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) commends the University Authorities for kick starting the process of restoration of the Union. While we frown at the opaque and undemocratic process of their emergence, we nonetheless commend members of the Constitution Drafting Committee for taking up this very important task of formulating the constitutional ground norm for the running of the much-awaited Students Union.
As you may already be aware, we of the ERC are calling for an independent, democratic and mass-based Students Union. By this, we mean a Students Union whose leadership is elected directly by the mass of students and not through a so-called Electoral College and which shall be politically and financially accountable to its members.
This is because we believe that a Students' Union is a platform of all students to collectively defend their rights and campaign against any anti-students policies and exploitations within and outside campus. Unfortunately, the draft constitution proposed by the Constitution Drafting Committee falls dreadfully short of this. Instead of an independent, democratic and mass-based students constitution that can seriously defend students' interests, the implication of the proposed constitution produced by the committee is a dependent, docile, undemocratic and bureaucratic Students Union whose officials will not be subject to the control of the mass of students nor would they be accountable to them. As a result of these identified shortcomings, the campaign of the ERC for an independent, democratic and mass-based Students Union shall continue until such a time when all the inadequacies are corrected.
However regardless of our reservations expressed above, we believe that having drawn up a proposed constitution, half of the work that the process of restoring a Students Union entails has already been concluded. The next decisive step therefore should be the immediate constitution of an "Electoral Committee" to conduct a democratic, free and fair election to usher in a new leadership for the Students Union. We propose that the Electoral Committee should be composed of students elected from each of the Faculties.
This is the only way to remove the doubt in the minds of many that this is just another journey without destination as happened in 2008 when a similar process produced a constitution but till today no elections were conducted nor any union restored.
University of Lagos has carried the ignoble tag of a University that abhors the free expression of its students populace and their access to the constitutional right to freedom of association for far too long. We urge that this time around, the process should lead to the actual restoration of a Students Union.
Adamu Lateef Julius Samuel
Coordinator, ERC UNILAG Secretary ERC UNILAG
Dean, Division of Students Affairs,
University of Lagos,
Press Club, UNILAG
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