For lovers of literature and written words, George Orwell’s Animal Farm is more than just another fiction. It is a political satire – a graphical juxtaposition of the drama and brouhaha that often come alongside the politicking and democratic governance of any nation or group of people. It is from this classic of Orwell I would love to lend a picture – one that might, perhaps, bear some semblance to the governance of the MBBS Class 2k22, University of Ibadan. Old Major first planted the vicious seed of rebellion in the mind of every animal on the Manor Farm when he shared his dream of the future of the beasts of England with them. Emboldened by the stirring lyrics of Beasts of England, beasts of Ireland (the rebellion anthem Old Major learnt in his dream), they all declared tyrant Man overthrown in unison and instituted a government that was by the animals, of the animals and for the animals. Two major ‘statesmen’ arose from that convention – the dreamy visionary Snowball and action-driven pragmatic Napoleon. Always, they rose to the forefront, proposing and presenting ideas, programmes and policies that would be beneficial to the rebranded Animal Farm. It was bliss as ever imagined – democracy at its peak. Or so it seems as Snowball was soon defamed and exiled never to return to the Animal Farm by the vicious dogs groomed specially by Napoleon who ascended to the sole dictatorship of the Farm. In a series of major policies effected by the Napoleon-led administration, the wiser animals began to wonder if the guiding principles of Animalism were truly being followed. However, one fellow, the ever-tenacious Boxer was never to be distracted by the haters of the administration. To him and anyone else who cares to listen, ‘Napoleon is always right!’ Is Napoleon truly always right? Or should Napoleon be questioned?
Accountability is a hallmark of democracy, and the followers in any country or group of people must always ask questions from the leadership, hard questions that must be answered if they (their leaders) must develop any sense of obligation to their electorate. As Stephen Covey rightly asserts, ‘accountability breeds response-ability’. In asking these questions, it is only logical to start from the leadership right within reach as the adage says, ‘charity must begin at home.’ Early 2021, the 2k22 Class and indeed, all classes under the aegis of the University of Ibadan Medical Students’ Association (UIMSA) took to the polls to elect various representatives across board as a new academic year kicked off. To say it was blissful at the start would not be an undeserving label as plans were rolled out for several programmes and policies – In Sanity, Telegram database launch amongst others. However, have they (the elected leaders) lived up to the hype? Have these programmes and policies been of any effect to the average class member? It is interesting to note the whole lot that has happened over the past few months, and that has changed the course of this administration. However, space would not suffice to give you a full gist of the whole happenings. Here are the highlights though:
Top on the list – Mr Shoneye Michael, the elected Majority Leader of the Class, was shockingly impeached from the University of Ibadan Medical Students’ Association (UIMSA) Senate on the grounds of gross misconduct. Surprised? Well, you shouldn’t be. It was long coming. It is common knowledge, as this writer would find out, that Mr Shoneye is quite involved in a lot of personal projects that keep him busy and away even from lectures constantly. Thus, it was quite expected that sooner or later, he might get even busier to effectively represent the class at the school level. It was, however, the process by which it was carried, and not the impeachment itself, that left a lingering murmur underneath in the class. According to a class member who prefers to remain anonymous, “how will the UIMSA Senate sitting in faraway UCH decide to impeach a legally elected representative of the class and force on us another fellow of their choice (though also elected by the class) without any input, advice or consent from the class?” (Emphasis added). However, in a chat with Mr Babalola Dolapo (also a member of the Senate) who replaced Mr Shoneye as the Majority Leader, he (Mr Babalola) explained that there are rules and regulations guiding the membership of the Senate and that the whole process of impeachment and replacement was carried out in a single Senate meeting. As such, there was no room for informing the class prior to the process. However, that response leaves the question “does the class deserve to know, decide or consent to a new representative from among the other elected representative?” largely unanswered.
Now, here is something worthy to note; prior to the election of Mr Shoneye, there was a proposed blueprint, a list of what to expect from the administration and a scale on which they have chosen to be judged of all. However, there has been no such proposal or plan by the new leadership. It is thus apparent that they would continue to toe the previous plan, and perhaps make the same mistakes as the previous administration over again. Not too long after, that horror became a reality. Please permit me to visit Orwell’s Animal Farm once more – early on into the independence of the Farm from Mr Jones, every animal often gathered in the old barn to discuss every single policy and vote. However, after the expulsion of Snowball, you would recall that the democratic process was completely scrapped from existence. Napoleon simply appeared on Sundays to merely inform the animals of any change in operation or policy. That perfectly paints the present picture and horror of the whole class as Mr Babalola seem to have adopted a suspenseful style of dropping important information on the class group. These days, rather than represent the class and its’ interest, he often acts as a messenger between the Faculty and the class. That was the exact scenario he announced that GES103 has been added to the workload for the second semester. In his own words, “after an intense argument on both sides, the senators came to the conclusion…”. Note a piece of glaring information from that line – even the Congressmen were absent from the decision-making process! Only the SENATORS came to the conclusion! Is the administration divided against itself? Or are the Congressmen and women no longer representing the class? Maybe not. Perhaps, it was an oversight that they were not invited to the table, seeing that they are just the lower members of the administration. If so, how then can the class itself expect to be invited to the table if the congress was ‘forgotten’ by the upper chamber of the administration? Maybe indeed, only Napoleon is always right! Thank God that the decision was finally overturned.
I guess you must be wondering by now, what then has this administration done since its inauguration? Of what use have they been to the class? A whole lot, dearest reader! Almost every day, unfailingly, beautifully disjointed graphics celebrating birthday celebrants are made by the Social committee and used as the class’ display picture on the official WhatsApp group while the name is changed to honour the celebrant. Also is the In Sanity mental health talk successfully hosted by the class. The talk had in attendance several notable personalities on campus including the Asido Campus Network’ President, Semiloore Ateere. Myths on mental health were shattered and overall, it was a highly enlightening event. Kudos to the Organizing Committee! Worthy of mention is also the Academic committee led by a member of the Senate, Miss Adeyemo Esther. It isn’t surprising to find lecture slides flying up and down on the WhatsApp page and Telegram channel courtesy of Miss Esther-led committee. Individual lecture slides are combined just before any test and are made easily accessible on the class’s Telegram channel. That, however, raises another question; who maintains and is responsible for the channel’s continual existence? The origin of the channel can be traced to a period just before resumption when former Class representative, Mr Shoneye suggested that an arrangement be made to record the virtual classes and stored somewhere for easy retrieval by everyone. A class member, Mr Abubakar Yinka, offered his knowledge as a programmer to set up such an arrangement using the popular messaging platform, Telegram for a specified fee to be paid MONTHLY. The whole class agreed, and contributions were made for the first and by some people, second months only. Miraculously, the channel continued to exist to date, and everyone seems to forget the brain behind the task. Mr Babalola, in a chat with the Fact Checker from the Press, confirmed that there has been no compensation whatsoever for Mr Yinka but plans are in place to do so as soon as possible – the class had been at the generosity of its member. Interesting!
In conclusion, to say that this administration has lived up to the hype is still highly debatable as they have failed to convincingly impress any casual observer. Ranging from unexpected administrative errors to non-inclusiveness in decision making and discrepancies in interpreting the law, they have consistently shown gross inexperience and incompetence in the art of governance. Time is running out on them, and should they be willing to convince us, they must rise above the average and prove their worth.