On Sunday January 14th, 2024, the University of Ibadan Students’ Union (UISU) conducted a press conference to provide valuable insights into recent developments, initiatives, and future plans within the union. In attendance were a few student observers and over forty press representatives from various faculties, departments, halls of residence, UCJ correspondence, and other media platforms on campus. With this, the press conference not only evaluated the past events of the union, but also examined ongoing activities and influenced future proceedings.

The Conference commenced at 5:16PM with four executives of the union in attendance: the president, Samuel Tobiloba Samson, the vice president, Ogunsesan Nafisat, as well as the PRO and house secretary. The PRO gave an opening remark where he welcomed all attendees and proceeded to the introduction of everyone present. This confirmed that majority of the attendees were pressmen – over forty – and a few student observers.

Then came the opening speech by the president, where he also welcomed all attendees and proceeded to state the purpose of the meeting as aiming to provide insights on recent development, initiatives, and future plans of the union. The president said that the press conference was one holding in a very long time because there has been no recent conference in the past. He then proceeded to talk about the activities and achievement of the union so far. Among those mentioned were: the rehabilitation of hitherto dilapidated student facilities like the reading rooms, support of students’ payment of school fees with over 1.6 million naira, training of students on digital markets, purchase of a new bus among many others. With this, the president acknowledged that the union has made remarkable achievements on assumption into office since July 4, 2023, and that as the new semester commenced, the union sought suggestions and opinions by the students on how to better improve their leadership. He also outlined events scheduled to take place in the new semester including the resumption package to support indigent students, a training to commence on Friday, 19th January, 2024, and the renovation of more reading rooms as well as the SRC chamber. With this, the president opened the floor for questions, suggestions, and opinions from the attendees. This paved way for a barrage of questions.

One of the correspondents, the UCJ editor, began by asking about the bursary provided for students of which the portal has already been closed and the penalty installed for late payment of fees. Also, was the concern about the union not being open to controversies, one of which is the alleged money laundering of a union leader where everyone has been left in the dark about the outcome of investigation on the case.

In response, the president said that the portal was still open for payment of fees by students who have not, stating that the union requested data from students who have been unable to pay their fees. He also admitted that the union is constrained of resources, and as such, cannot meet the overwhelming demands of the student support project. As regards the increment for late fee payment, the president said the union will demand a reduction. On the alleged case, the said that although there is a report from the disciplinary committee, it is however vague, as the union does not have an explicit report of the outcome of investigation.

There was also a complaint on the anonymous nights carried out in the SU Whatsapp group where sexual abuse has been observed by way of words. Also, that the postponed meeting with the VC has not yet been rescheduled. Concerns were also raised about the new SU bus; whether or not it was meant for executives alone. A pressman from Queen Idia hall also voiced out the plight of students, stating that bedbugs and mosquitoes are ravaging students in halls around the campus, attention being drawn on the ineffective fumigation carried out by the school management under the poor supervision of the union. In response, the president said the SU bus was not meant for executives alone but to all students who intend to use it. He also said the union will look into the issue of bedbugs and mosquitoes ravaging students on campus.

In summary, among the issues of major concern were the disconnection between the UISU and the students evident from the low turn-out of attendees in the press conference, the contrast between statements released by the union and actions implemented as evident from the released statement that students should not go ahead to pay compulsory laboratory fees meanwhile, due to risk of forfeiting their examinations, students still made payments and the union insists unrealistically that students ought to act in solidarity and follow suit disregarding any opposition. With this, it was observed that the union has failed to successfully resolve a reduction in any of the inflated fees posed to students – which of course, was regarded as one of the greatest pitfalls of the present administration.

Finally, the president gave a concluding remark thanking all press representatives and observers for their immense contribution towards the success of the press conference, stating that pertinent issues and suggestion have been noted, and will be implemented in future proceedings. He also encouraged the collective efforts and support of the all students to help ensure the success of the present administration. With this, the conference came to a close at 7:00 PM.

Ugor Benedict

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