Portraying UIMSA: The Twist, Turns, and Telltales of the UIMSA Image-Makers

Lemme tell you a familiar story; it is one you know so well. You see, this story typifies the reality of Nigerian politics. Every election cycle, smart-sounding, colourfully dressed politicians force their way onto our screens and lives again. They tell stories (or sometimes bring “live testifiers”) of their worthiness to contest – stories of mountains they’ve climbed and rivers they’ve dared to make our lives better out of their commitment to us. They also paint us a picture, a bright colourful piece of never-ending bliss they intend to lead us into – the “promised land” we’ve waited long for. Surely, they’d convince us since every election day we go out whether en masse or in trickles and bits. We vote them in. The next day or week, they come around again; this time, with drums and songs. They come with effusive thanks and even more pictures and promises. But then, they disappear when the music ends. Somehow, they cease to exist until the next cycle approaches. In the next cycle, they simply reappear out of their holes into our lives again. This time, the ones we voted for earlier come back with “proofs” of the promises they’ve made and kept. Beautiful Nubia, in his 2009 track Kurunmi Is On The Way, says of them;
“If you ask for evidence, naa award you go see and many many honours from foreign bodies”

Proofs. Awards. Pictures. And more flowery stories of the many battles they fought for us. The irony, as you know it, is the many holes evident in their various proofs and stories. But somehow, we never call them to attention. We simply cheer and vote them all again this cycle.

Let’s turn our attention instead to that which is closer to home.
On Wednesday, 12th April 2023, the current Executive Council of the University of Ibadan Medical Students’ Association (UIMSA) was dissolved and the electoral ban was lifted, thus marking the beginning of another election cycle for its members. However, as we prepare to usher in new hands to guide the affairs of the Association, it is imperative to take account of the outgoing tenure.

In the now-famous words of Moliere, “It is not only what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable.”

Thus, this article seeks to make a foray into the now past tenure of the office of the Public Relations Officer (PRO), University of Ibadan Medical Students’ Association (UIMSA) held by Ms Opeyemi Ilori of the 400-level class. Ms Ilori hinged her campaign manifesto on a 3-point action plan asides from the constitutional duties required of the office. The plans tagged Portraying UIMSA, included the timely publication of the UIMSA Primus list and Medscion magazine, and a substantial improvement on the Association’s online presence. It’s been a year since UIMSAites have put their faith in Ms Ilori’s plans thus it is only fair that we consider for a moment – did they ever see the light of the day or is this just another typical story in the Nigerian political arena?

Publication of the Medscion Magazine
As contained in the manifesto, Ms Ilori promised to ensure the publication of the 10th issue of the Medscion Magazine. She clearly states in her own words that she “intends to achieve this by designing a workable timeline, setting up the Editorial Board as soon as possible, developing an empirical fundraising strategy”. It is been a year since this promise was made to UIMSAites, the Executive Council – by extension, the PRO’s office, has been dissolved but the Medscion Magazine will apparently not see the light of the day for the tenure.
Ms Ilori, when reached out to on the subject says,
“This particular issue is very dear to my heart and it is with great pain that I admit my inability to fulfill this promise. The publications committee tried its best to get this done. But we were faced with some major challenges – fund raising for instance. Alumni were reached out to as well as pharmaceutical companies but none of these were forthcoming. We also received low turn out of articles submitted for the magazine and this made it difficult to compile articles for the publication.”

Publication of the UIMSA Primus List
The UIMSA Primus list is a compilation of outstanding members of the Association who have achieved incredible feats in various fields such as research, social entrepreneurship, and volunteering, among others. The list which had been in publication for a couple of tenures past has been a much-awaited and envied publication by several other departments and faculties within the University. As such, it was with much gusto and expectations that Ms Ilori’s promise of a timely publication was received. She’d promised to give UIMSAites the recognition they deserve especially with the introduction of “a double-blinded review system to select the best-fit candidates”.
A year later, you’d ask, what has become of the much anticipated Primus List? Ms Ilori says,
“The primus list is currently being finished up by the design team and would be released before the inauguration of the next executive council. I intended for the publications to be released as a grand finale to my tenure. However, I miscalculated and didn’t foresee the stress that would come with the planning of the health week which overburdened me and members of the design team. But as I have said, the primus list would definitely be released.”

UIMSA’s Social Media Presence
The last of the Portraying UIMSA agenda, asides from constitutional duties, was improving the Association’s social media presence. Ms Ilori promised that she would include the MONTHLY publications of ‘Did you know?’ facts about health, “Diary of a UIMSAite” and Alumni Spotlight in a social media campaign drive. Since the inauguration of the Executive council in May 2022, this writer takes a quick survey of the Association’s social media channels to assess the fulfilment of these promises. Over the course of twelve months, there were only 3 episodes of Diary of a UIMSAites, 6 episodes of ‘Did you know?’ facts about health, and NO SINGLE EPISODE of the Alumni Spotlight as against the 12 episodes of each promised by (and expected by UIMSAites from) the Ms Ilori-led publicity team.
Upon reaching out to Ms Ilori, she says,
“Concerning the ‘Did you know?’ segment, after a meeting with the members of the publicity committee, it was decided to merge this with the trivia Tuesday and learn with UIMSA in order to limit the amount of content going out from the committee and not fatigue UIMSAites.
The alumni spotlight was launched and we were able to deliver two releases. However, there were some bureaucratic challenges in gathering information about alumni from the database.
The diary of a UIMSAite was planned to be bimonthly. So we were able to reach half of it. However, the remaining releases were put on hold as the publicity of the health week was prioritized over content from the publicity committee.”

Constitutional Duties
In light of the multiple “mountains” that the Ms Ilori-led UIMSA Image-Makers must have faced warranting a gross abandonment of their campaign promises to UIMSAites, it would rather be unfair to end an assessment of their tenure in office without assessing the level of fulfilment of the outlined constitutional duties. These duties included responsibility for external and internal publicity of the activities of the Association and making such public statements on behalf of the Association as may from time to time. A quick survey of the Association’s social media channels revealed a moderately high level of activities on the various platforms. Also, a completely randomised survey of UIMSAites especially across the Preclinical school (who might, as a resultant effect of their location, be left in the dark concerning the Association’s activities) revealed that the team did keep them informed when due.

In conclusion, whether or not Ms Ilori has completely fulfilled her campaign promises to UIMSAites is a question whose answer is clear beyond any doubt to all. Although these plans were certainly for the overall good of the Association, multiple setbacks and “bureaucratic challenges” prevented their actualisation and dashed UIMSAites expectations. In all fairness, Ms. Ilori should be commended for the audacity to dream of a better image for UIMSA and the courage to sincerely accept the blame when her plans came short. Hopefully, the incoming administration will review these plans and possibly reinvent their actualisation.

Ayomide Oyekan


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *