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Student Leadership in Nigeria – by Olusegun Adeniyi

105

Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-IfeOn Tuesday, PUNCH newspaper published a rather disturbing story that depicts the level of rot in our country today. But before I raise my posers, here is the story for

those who may have missed it:  

“Student Union executives and legislators at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, have budgeted N1,837,550 to make official phone calls between August, 2015 and January, 2016. In a copy of the Student Union budget made available to our correspondent and debated by members of the OAU Student Representative Council on Sunday evening, the leaders also had a separate budget for internet facilities and sending of bulk Short Message Service.

“The sum, which did not also include the one for purchase of phones, was budgeted by the leadership of the Central Executive Council and Students’ Representative Council led by Mr. Omotayo Akande and Mr. Adebari Aare respectively. Others are the clerk, deputy speaker, halls of residence executives, chairmen and secretary of transport, judicial, and budget and finance committees.

“The student union leaders, who in totality budgeted N26,090,469 for their various needs, are expecting an income of about N15 million. A breakdown of the budget showed that the speaker, Mr. Adebari Aare, proposed to spend N232,500 for official phone calls for 310 days, while the president of the union also proposed to make calls for 180 days with N108,000. Among other items that surfaced on the president’s budget were fuelling at the cost of N270,000; bus maintenance, N300,000; ‘intervention’, N300,000; and security vote, N300,000.

“Contained in the speaker’s budget is welfare costing N217,000; long journey and short journey accommodation, N1,250,000; long and short journey trip, N500,000 among others. When contacted, the Chairman, Budget and Finance Committee, Mr. Abayomi Samuel, said the budget had not been approved. Samuel, whose committee also budgeted N114,000 for phone calls, added that some of the expenses had been reduced. While speaking to our correspondent on the telephone and confirming the phone call expenses, Samuel said, ‘The budget has not been approved.’

 “However, our correspondent gathered that students of the university are divided over the budget. One of them, Sammy, said, “How will they say they want to make phone calls with that kind of money when we are all complaining of poor toilet facilities and lack of food in our hostels? This is extreme wickedness’.”

Until the story, I didn’t know that student leaders now run this kind of budgets which then goes to show how long some of us have left school. Yet even if we accept the word of the Budget and Finance Committee Chairman, Mr Abayomi Samuel, that this is just the proposal, I still have serious issues with it. One, going by the estimate, the expected revenue is N15 million but the student leaders intend to spend N26 million thus leaving a deficit of N11 million. That would be a deficit of about 70 percent! If the leadership of a student union begins to think they should spend money they don’t intend to earn, mostly on frivolous expenditure, then we are already in trouble.

Two, the president of a student union is earmarking to himself a whopping sum of N300,000 as security vote and another N300,000 for “intervention”. The import of those proposed allocations is that he wants to spend money that would not be accounted for. Three, what is the meaning of the N1.25 million voted for “long journey and short journey accommodation”? Does it mean that when student leaders travel to another institution of learning, they no longer sleep on such campuses but rather sleep in hotels? And then what can one say about those scandalous sums of money voted for telephone calls?

I find it very disturbing that student leaders would generate this sort of reckless, indeed irresponsible budget proposal which mirrors what you find in the Nigerian public life. It is a big shame.

The Verdict by Olusegun Adeniyi; olusegun.adeniyi@thisdaylive.com


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