Back in 2012, 2013 and 2014, when I started tilting interest and attention towards the affairs of the Univerity of PortHarcourt after several failed attempts to gain admission in the West and in the East, one thing that really caught my attention and by extension everyone who cared to know then ,was the level of political consciousness and hyperactive student unionism in the college.
Every one aspired to occupy seats in the SUG at whatever level be it department, faculty, college or university wide. it granted you preferences, gave you some respect and ‘dread’ around the campus and could also put some money in your pockets if you were ‘smart’ enough and played your cards well.
Back then I knew a few people who would gladly skip classes, miss tests and hire people at times to cover up when the going seemed though so as to attend meetings and be seen as serious and relevant. I also imagined having for example to be in the DOT ( Directorate of Transport) where you get an all access to free rides on all intra-school cabs all year or the DOW(Director of Welfare) where you get to have free meals on a daily. Mehn! It was every students dream.
No doubt the rise of consciousness was not without an alarming increase in cult and cult related activities. Students were not afraid to identify openly with the predominant cult groups and the killings related to cult clashes in those times competed with oxygen for rampancy. A major event that comes to mind was the “Aluu 4” that drew international attention.
Flash forward to 2018 and we have more or less a puppet SUG in comatose, cult groups going into hiding and becoming truly secret, A more studious student population and a heavily dwindling interest in student politics.
What happened you say? Laale happened!
Laale studied the system, faced it squarely and overhauled the system. From the “No school fees no exam” policy to the “75% class attendance or you come back next year” policy, Laale literally waged war on all the territory we students thought was our domain, and conquered. What about the cultists, Laale showed them those pages of the school constitution we all never bothered to read upon entry and punished them by expulsion, suspension, detention or strict binding undertakings.
Now you have boys in rip jeans and dreadlocks laced with tattoes and piercings and slay queens in fancy dresses and heavy make ups showing up for night classes not to steal ( cos you’re gone it you get caught) or goof around but to read!!!
No doubt uniport is a better learning environment than it was before, but for those of us who have our sights on politics and governance and would love to live and earn in that sector of the economy, who hope to become future political leaders how much does this help us if we can’t find an environment to practice just as the sciences do and the arts and business inclined fellows do.
We believe by now that the system is better if the school can work in conjunction with the students to properly organise the student union so as to wade off the vices that plague and are parasitic to it, this would go a long way in helping students become more confident, not just academically, but morally and socially. It would breed a generation of graduates who are at the forefront and not behind, who are not afraid to take sensible and calculated risks and pursue what they desire for good.
It would make UNIPORT conscious again because yes! We are unconscious!
Greatest Gbo Gbo!!
And by the way, Laale is the way the student community refer to the vice chancellor of the university, Professor Ndowa Ekoatte Sunday Laale.
Written by; Kelechi for baydorzblogng