The transition process from the administration of one leadership of student union to another consists of a detailed electoral process, and as I have often said, election is not an event, but a process. The electoral process usually commences with the lifting of ban on campaigns, during which time interested aspirants begin to express their aspirations to the electorates, the students. It may involve filling of Nomination forms and submitting oneself to screening, presentation of manifesto and actual voting on the day of election.
After the election and declaration of the winner, the new leader does not start performing the duties of the office until he or she is sworn-in by administering on him/her the Oath of Allegiance to the Constitution of the concerned student body and the Oath of Office. It is only after the administration of the prescribed Oaths that the new leader can begin to perform the duties of his or her office.
The scenario described above is mostly for elections into offices of the Student Union Government of tertiary institutions. However, in the case of elections into positions in the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), the election process commences with the declaration of interest and campaign to various campuses by aspiring leaders, then the screening of aspirants is usually conducted by the Convention Planning Committee, while the election proper involves voting by Senators or Delegates (SUG Presidents of affiliate unions) at the NANS Convention venue, after which Winners are declared and announced.
During the early years of NANS, immediately the winners are declared at the Convention ground by the Convention Chairman, who is the Chief Returning Officer of the Convention, the new leaders are sworn-in immediately by the Convention Chairman by administering on them the prescribed Oaths of Allegiance and Office respectively. However, in recent time, from time of Comrade Olusegun Olaleye (Radical Brothers), the swearing-in ceremony has been moved to a later day in a well organized programme for the Inauguration of the new leadership of the organization, where every elected officer of the new administration is sworn-in, just as the Student Union Government of various campuses of tertiary institutions are inaugurated in a similar event in the presence of the Institution’s management.
Let me elaborate on the significance of the swearing-in, using myself as an example. I was elected as President of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Student Union on July 28, 1999, but I did not start acting immediately until I was sworn-in in an inauguration ceremony on September 6th, 1999, almost five weeks after my election. I recall an incident that happened while I was still President-elect; the University was organizing the Anti-Cultism event where many students who were members of different fraternities were encouraged to openly renounce their membership of such fraternities as the University was set to declare a full-blown war on cultism and its associated vices. I was supposed to join my voice in encouraging the students to take the opportunity of the olive branch by the University management and renounce with the firm promise that they would be pardoned or risk expulsion when eventually identified, but I could not find the zeal and motivation to speak at that event, but immediately I was sworn-in on the day of inauguration, the spirit of Aluta took hold of me, and the aura of the office of the President became manifest upon my appearance.
It is instructive to note that the swearing-in of elected officers of the student union at every level is not just a physical event; there is a spiritual aspect to it. It is believed that the spirits of all student leaders that have passed on assemble at the inauguration venue to breathe live and courage to the sworn-in leaders. A person may appear timid and docile as an elected official, but the moment he or she is sworn-in, the garb of courageous leadership becomes manifest and the new leader begins to speak with authority. This cannot be said of a person that is not validly elected by the students but who decides to usurp the office as factional student leader. The inauguration of the new leadership of NANS Zone F (Southeast zone) has been scheduled for Monday 14th August in Ebonyi State University, where Comrade Chidi Nzekwe will be sworn-in as the new Coordinator of the NANS Zone F. Yours sincerely will be there to speak on the topic “Empowering and Equiping emerging Leaders for their future Role”. Keep a date with us!
Comrade Igwe Patrick Afubera writes from Abuja.