From his first day as a student of the University of llorin, Wisdom Oluwaseun Okoko dreamt of leading the Students Union Government (SUG) of the institution.
For three years, Okoko who is now a 300 Level student of the Department of Health Promotion and Environmental Health Education , worked the path of his wish to emerge the President-elect of the SUG of the university.
In this exclusive interview with CAMPUS FOCUS’ Joshua Adebayo, Okoko talks about his plans for students of the institution and how he intends to maintain balancing between those of the permanent site and UITH. Excerpts;
How did you react to your emergence as the new SUG President of Unilorin?
Actually, I will say that I didn’t see myself as the winner because at the point I begin to see myself as the winner that means I see others as losers. The feeling is like we have been able to actualise a goal and what is the goal ,everyone of us who contested for the office of the Student Union President and other aspirants are focused on uplifting the University of Ilorin and anyone who emerges will be able to drive that vision. With this you will understand it is a victory for us all. I was only I given the mandate to actualise that vision but we all are going to drive it together as like minds. So, I won’t say I felt like a winner rather I had the feeling that our vision has being actualised or the process for our vision has being actualised.
Unilorin as one of the most popular universities in Nigeria has a good image already, how do you intend to further promote this image?
As you have said, Unilorin has a good image in Nigeria but we believe that it can be better and there is no extent to which you rate better things than say the best, this is where it stops. To every height you attain, there can always be improvement, so on a general note as student union leaders, we planned that when we come into office with the policies and plans we ‘ve on ground for the institution and the students we believe those from outside of the school we will see a vast improvement in academics, welfare and every other aspect that concerns us as a university. Generally, we hope that you see us better as our general mantra is ‘Better by far’ university.
You said just now that you have plans with policies for the students ,how did you think you can achieve that especially in areas where your predecessors failed?
One quality of a leader is to be able to continue from where your predecessor stopped so actually am not going to say my predecessor have not done well ,but what l am just going to do as a leader is to look at where they have stopped so that I can improve on that. It is not really all about the lapses, it’s all about improvement. Even if they had lapses, I can improve and be better than them, so what l am going to concentrate on is areas where they have performed and see how I can improve on them. As regards the lapses, we are gong to look at them and see how we can cover up for those mistakes and in your question you asked what are some of those lapses…actually I know that in the last administration there was a low cohesiveness among members, will I tag it team work, the team work was there but it was not holistic. It was not all the executives that were carried along. This is not something you can blame on the president because he tried to carry others along but may be they refused to align with him. So, what we just have to do is to see if we can cover up those little lapses but ultimately our focus is to improve on achievements of our predecessors and to block some of their lapses.
Student union as the middle-man between the management and the student, how do you intend to make the link more stronger?
We hope that there will be understanding and cohesiveness. As student union officials, what we are coming to do is to see how we can build the link between the student and the management. We are to amplify what the management are saying to the students and vice versa. We are going to be engaging in practical steps by making sure that we organise meetings around faculties every month, we will also organise press conference and we are going to have what we call emergency team which will has members across all faculties of the university. This will be extended to the outside of the university community whereby members will be closer to the people. As the Students Union President, I may not be close to everyone but when we have our eyes in every corner, those people will now be the ones to give us information about what’s happening and if there is any incident among them for those who cannot reach the president, they will report to our people in their locality. you can report to our people in their locality. So, we are planning on establishing a meeting medium that is note number 1. Also, we are planning to organise an emergency response team to keep the link between the management and the student tight. In addition, we will maximize the use of social media, you will agree with me that social media is very active in our current day so we will see how we can use it to make sure that the middle man we stand for is efficient .
Do you ever dreamt of attaining the height of the SUG President ?
Actually, I think the first step into answering that question is that, it is the hope of everyone to be great and that is why they use to say if dreams were horses beggars would ride. When l was offered admission and was in 100 Level, I saw a lot of things that I could really work on as a person and lots of things that I could pour out for people to benefit from. I started working on those things from Year 1. We had a platform where we organise school fees for students, we catered for health of students and we also assist some with employment to pay up their school fees. It was borne out of passion as my name implies to see how we can contribute to the society but I saw that if we must expand our scope to affect a large population of people ,you must operate strategically from an office and we looked at the office of the Students Union President as one of the very strategic offices to contribute to students development and for the advancement of the university. That was how I captioned the vision and you know it is not very easy for one man to come and say you want to lead over 44,000 students despite the passion and vision. We however took practical actions and steps towards it and today we are here.
During your tenure in office, how do you intend to ensure fairness and equity between students at the Unilorin permanent site and those at UITH?
Someone asked me this yesterday that l should not renege. He said as SUG President, I should visit UITH intermittently and spend time with them. I am aware l need to be accessible and available and with these, it will be easier to address issues that may come up. Actually, there is going to be balancing between both campuses.
So what should we expect in the early days of your administration ?
Expect values, rebranded values and that is my mantra . When l say, rebranded values, l mean we are going to be bringing a lot of innovations , a lot of creativity on campus. Also, policies that are going to be advantageous to the students of the University of Ilorin. ,just expect some mind blowing innovations and vibes that have youthful values.
Lastly what’s your advice for students looking for succour under your administration ?
For those looking up to us as student union leaders, we are going to set legacies, we are coming to set the pace and we are not setting it for student of University of Ilorin alone but federal universities and all universities in Nigeria.