The recently constituted Health Task Force by the President of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile- Ife Students’ Union, Oyekan Ibukun, has generated ripples among the three arms of the union and the students at large, but the President argued that the birth of union task force was a child of necessity in this interview with Ife City News Reporter, ADEJUMON KABIR . Excerpts
ICN: Sir, you recently constituted Students’ Union Health Task Force which is generating controversy among the leaders and members of the union, what really is your stand on the matter ?
President : You see, I have said I won’t say a word on some things again. One of them is the issue of Health Task Force. Section 23 Subsection 7 of our sacrosanct constitution clearly states it that the President shall perform duties reasonably incidental to his office. And by virtue of the state of Health Centre and her problems, I came up with some solutions. The problems of the Health Centre are multifaceted. Firstly, the health Centre is short- staffed and poorly equipped. On that, we have been pressurising the university management to increase staff and as of Friday, the Vice Chancellor has approved the appointment of 4 more Doctors conceding to our demands at the Health Centre. Secondly, some staff are lazy, they need to be checked every time. They prefer to just sit down all the hours and attend to no one. Seeing all this problems accumulate over years and since the inception of our tenure, I can’t allow students’ health status to be put in jeopardy hence the constitution of Health Task Force. Aside that, while campaigning, when students ask me how I will solve the problem at the Health Centre, I promised that I will form a Health Task Force and they bought it and voted me in, now I cannot afford to disappoint those ones. I have seen ladies call me on phone and blast me because they were failed at the Health Centre, I have seen guys complain to me. I cannot afford to let students be cheated as regards their health status.
ICN: It is believed that such responsibility is the schedule duties of the Welfare Director through the Welfare Committee, does that not amounting to up surging the constitutional duties of the welfare committee?
President : Yes, there is a welfare committee. My ideology is that no amount of reading is too much to pass an examination. No amount of textbook is too much to pass an exam. What is bad if the Health Task Force monitors the Health Centre for a better health delivery and the Welfare Committee do that too? It is not bad. This union is not a union of self-glory; Great Ife Union is not a union of competition. Our union is a union of results. All students want to see is result. Let everybody get to work. I can play politics with anything, but I can never play politics with the Welfare and Security of Great Ife Students. As President, enough is enough at the Health Centre. I already told the management, if they do careful, we are going to shut down the Health Centre and no student will attend the place until they meet our demands. Tell me, how do you think the Ministry of Education or the Ministry of Health will react to the management when they hear the students shut down the Health Centre that serves the students? That time, the management will sit up. But before then, lets see how it goes, at least the VC has approved the appointment of four more Medical Doctors. Let everyone get to work; as we keep pressurising the management, we keep pressurising health Centre to deliver also.
ICN: You just said you can play politics with anything except students welfare and security. Do you mean you played politics with the power of the parliament?
President: Far from that, we are all representing Great Ife students; welfare of students is our priority.
ICN: Many students still considered the idea of the Health Task Force as alien to the union tradition?
President: Nothing much! Do you want me to be begging them to accept it? To the best of my knowledge, I have received messages from students and calls from students commending it. In as much that I am not after self-glory, students perception is the greatest. To anyone that is against the Health Task Force, the person can go to Health Centre and send the members away while they are working or such people should better carry megaphone. I see them as distractors and I cannot afford to be distracted for one second at all. But they should keep it up, all the best to them.
ICN: Are you sure the Task Force is not a reward to compensate your loyalists on campus?
President: You will only hear that from intellectual vegetables. People that just want to talk always like vegetables will always want to be green but in the end, it will turn to yellow. That’s how intellectual vegetables are. They don’t know when to talk and when not to talk. They always want to talk till they will say rubbish! Please when did service become compensation? The Chairman of the Health Task Force used to stay in town, because of this mantle; he had to relocate to campus to squat with a friend so he can attend to midnight issues. So has that turned to compensation? But you know we know those intellectual vegetables. They will soon turn yellow.