Her ability to let her voice be heard at a gathering of established professors, crack public intellectuals and numerous experts was a side attraction of reckoning at the recent International Conference on the 2019 General Elections in Nigeria at the University of Ibadan. Did that speak to just being brilliant or to a UI exceptionalism in the teaching of Political Science at a time of crisis in the university system or to something else? Intervention tried to find out in this interview with Miss Adefuye Abiola Omolola, the final year female student of the Department of Political Science, UI who came to attention by vigorously canvassing her standpoint on the theme of the conference.
You spoke from the floor at the conference which just ended and that earned you a place on the high table. What prompted you to speak?
What prompted me to speak is the issue of not acknowledging the students in what was being discussed. But students as students or corpers or youths were at the receiving end of some of the problems of that election.
So, what exactly were you saying?
I was stressing that the students were not privileged. In our case at the University of Ibadan, we registered in the school but before the elections came, ASUU went on strike. It meant that the students could not vote. They would have wanted to vote because of their love for Nigeria. Instead of mentioning such developments, they were talking about how some people were not paid and other monetary issues.
What again did you emphasise?
I also spoke on youth crisis and how that is affecting everything. I meant how the youths are tempted to derail because primary as well as secondary socialization agencies are failing. Youths are derailing as some are becoming thugs and that is worrisome. I brought in how social media has enabled youths to voice out their feelings but into the wilderness and not to the real quarters.
Do you think the government doesn’t access social media?
The government might do so but the social media is still not the traditional channel of communication. Sometimes, I think people in authority are afraid of social media rather than take the voices as a conversation. I don’t think we are getting the right answers to what we are saying on Whatsapp, twitter and Facebook. I am not sure the message gets in there.
Are you fulfilled or frustrated being a university student?
I am happy because I am in the university but there is the fear of the unknown. It is not only myself who feels that university education is not guaranteeing success anymore. I am happy because I am learning but the future is unclear. We all have to try to do God’s will to escape what we see those who graduated before us suffering.
Was education always a guarantee of success?
The tables have turned. Before, education opened different opportunities and that is not the way it is now.
You deliberately chose to read Political Science?
I didn’t choose Political Science. I wanted to read Law but my score was below the cut-off point and I was given Political Science.
What happened when you entered Political Science?
I was still angling to cross into Law. I talked to some people in the Department and in the Faculty of Law. Law was willing to take me but the idea that God might have chosen Political Science was also coming alive. I prayed about it and I talked to some people here and there, especially in the Department. At the end of the day, the idea of changing course died.
How have you found Political Science?
As a Political Science student, you can relate to whatever you are being taught. You do not just accumulate knowledge, you are also able to dispense it because we are products of the political environment. For example, when we study International Relations, we can test the ideas in what is going on in the world at any time. That is the same with other segments of the course.
Do you think Political Science in UI is different from what it is in other universities?
I would say UI Political Science is very good. They do not just teach us, they also tell us to defend the knowledge. And I like their method of teaching. It is not taking notes anymore. It is interactive. That is not the case everywhere. In some places, the lecturer is the one giving the knowledge. Here, they tell us to speak up, to voice our mind, to participate in politics, either by voting or seeking to be voted for. Even this conference, they invited us. When I consider the way our examination questions come, the knowledge we dispense, I would say we are ok. We don’t do much of objective as a form of examination. We are very theoretical and argumentative, not that there is a particular answer. It depends on how I approach a question.
Are you a politician?
You like politics. How did that come about?
I grew up in a politically enlightened or politically involved family. My father is a politician. As a student of politics, I can see some flaws. I would want to change those flaws but I cannot change it alone. If I don’t participate, I cannot do much. Right now, I am a Senator in the National Association of Political Science Students, (NAPSS).
If I meet another student of your department, am I going to hear the same trend of argument?
The next student might not speak the way I have spoken. He or she might be more brilliant. Some of them are not interested in politics and may not say certain things certain ways but they know about politics. Many of them are involved in politics in the department.
What next for you?
If everything goes fine, I serve in the NYSC. It is not by my power but God’s but I would want to be a political analyst and a politician. If one doesn’t understand the theoretical aspects of politics, one’s politics would be headache for others. If I cannot be a politician, then I might want to find myself in an international organisation.