By Prince Onyenekwe
Vice-Chancellor, University of Nigeria Nsukka Prof. Charles Igwe has advised newly elected members of the Student Union Government (SUG) of the university to remain steadfast in service and resist temptations associated with their positions.
The Vice Chancellor charged them to be role models to other students and agents of positive change with their position.
Prof. Igwe gave the charge during the inauguration ceremony of the newly elected SUG executives held at Princess Alexandira Auditorium (PAA).
“I charge new SUG executives to be serious with their academics, be role models to other students and agents of positive change,” Igwe said.
He reiterated the commitment of his administration towards ensuring students and staff welfare.
He appealed to parents to actively contribute to grooming of their children to stem the tide of growing moral decadence in society.
Speaking during the inauguration ceremony, the newly elected SUG President, Enoch Chukwuebuka Utazi, outlined the vision of his administration, stating, “This Students’ Union Government promises to be an ideal bridge between the University authorities and students. This tenure will focus on the promotion of academic excellence.”
Furthermore, Utazi expressed commitment to charting a new course and maximizing the university’s facilities to ensure academic programmes stand out globally. Laying more emphasis on the importance of result-oriented research, he expressed his wish to bring the university to the limelight by seeking the support of the staff, adding that a collective effort can ensure the administration’s success.
On the aspect of promoting unity, Utazi invited other SUG contestants who were not successful in the elections to collaborate with his government in elevating the university’s status. He stressed the need for constructive criticism and ideas from his fellow opponents to ensure the effectiveness of his administration. He also stressed that constructive ideas and criticism are essential for a successful administration.
“I wish to seize this chance to call on all my fellow contestants that were not successful in the election to join hands to make this tenure a huge success. All hands should be on deck to ensure success,” he urged.
The election which involved a rigorous process was held on 30 October 2023. This was after two sessions of high anticipation for a new administration of SUG in the institution.
Utazi emerged as the first student from the faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences to win the position of President of SUG in UNN.
The poll lasted for six hours but there were students unable to cast their votes due to the challenging voting conditions. Despite the challenges, many still expressed satisfaction with the election’s outcome.
The poll that took place at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Library, witnessed a keen competition as Utazi, garnered 1,720 votes, defeating his opponent, Raluchukwu Nwafor, a student of the Social Work department, who received a total of 1,264 votes.
Utazi wooed students across faculties with his promise of drawing from his past leadership experience to steer the ship of the student body. Victor Onyishi, a student of Pharmaceutical Sciences, expressed his trust in Utazi, highlighting their shared history. He stated: “I support my candidate because I share a bond with him as not only my faculty mate but also because I know him down to earth. He is from my hometown and, in addition to that, had been my leader in the past. I want him to do again what he had done before. I trust what he can do.”
Moreover, Onyishi emphasized that his support was not based on Utazi’s campaign manifestoes, noting that, “The manifesto is only a paper political promise, and I can’t choose my candidate based on that. I support someone I know that when he gets into the office, he will perform.”
Despite the announcement of winner of the election, some students expressed displeasure with the voting conditions. They reported overcrowded polling stations and alleged that some students were physically abused during the voting. Ojuanu lamented, “I don’t know why there is only one polling unit, but from what I have seen so far, this election is badly conducted. Just look at how rowdy the environment is.”
Somadina Eleke from the Department of Mass Communication said: “The experience today is extremely bad. To even go inside to vote was a serious problem. I have tried severally to go in but the crowd here is too much, and the way things are managed seems extremely bad. Imagine that someone has fainted already here due to the dragging and squeezing here and there. The security operatives are not even helping matters.”
Esther Abonyi, a student from the Faculty of Agriculture, raised concerns about the conduct of security operatives, stating that they used force during the election. “I don’t like the fact that the election started late. Also, I don’t seem to understand why the security operatives were flogging students with koboko,” Miss Abonyi stated. “For crying out loud, this is their right, and they should be allowed to vote. That apart, I think the whole process was free and fair.”
The inauguration ceremony was also attended by dignitaries from the university community, including, the Dean of Students Affairs, Prof. Edwin Omeje and other principal officers.
The newly elected members of the SUG comprise 30 senators and 94 members of the house of representatives, representing different departments in the institution. The event heralds the beginning of a new administration after the SUG elections for the 2021/2022 academic session was postponed.