Essence Of Students'union Politics

A piece providing information on the purpose and the realities of the Students' Union Politics in tertiary institutions.

Students' Union, like every other form of government, operates based on the principles of checks and balances. It equally encourages a clear-cut separation of powers among the three arms of government, that is, the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary. Across the global geographical boundaries, tertiary institutions support the existence and operation of students' unions. Every student is a member of the students' union. Ideally, membership is supposed to be voluntary. In Nigeria's educational system, all students are automatically members of the students' union. With the nature of the student union we operate in Nigeria; all students are duty-bound to subscribe to membership of the union. By implication, all students are to pay the prescribed SUG fee on an annual basis.

As powerful as students' union may tend to be, it is still subservient to the rules and regulations of the various institutions. It is practically impossible to have independent students' union, especially in Nigerian contexts. This is because any law, policy guidelines, or decisions of the students' union that are inconsistent with the institution's regulations to the extent of the inconsistencies shall remain null, void, and of no effect.

Obviously, the true essence of the student union in any institution is to allow students to elect their leaders through the democratic process. Once the leaders have been elected, they are to speak for and represent other students before the authorities of any institution. Of course, this is expected to be a training ground for future leaders. It is regarded as a training ground because it provides opportunities for seminars, workshops, conferences, and symposia. A well-trained students' union leader is bound to be tactful, meticulous, radical, and outspoken.

Through active participation in students' union politics, one stands a better chance to learn and acquire good writing skills, rhetorical communication, analytical skills, good reading skills, and listening skills. Anyone who desires to be a great students' unionist must cultivate good reading skills and study habits. Successful unionists are those that read widely and have enough time to research and seek knowledge from different sources.

Being a Students' Union activist is not an excuse for academic failure or an acceptable justification for poor academic performance in the College. Nowadays, most students' union leaders are intellectual charlatans, unlike in those days when most activists were ideological, politically conscious, and religiously committed to the struggle. The current trend is that average Students' union leaders are cultists and those who joined unionism to enrich themselves.

Fundamentally, students' union leaders use the power of the Congress to negotiate, bargain, and in presenting the demands of the students before the authorities. Most successful students' union leaders deploy the power of lobbying and negotiation skills to achieve results. A responsible students' union leader will never trade off the interest of the colleagues for whatever reasons or for personal gains. In essence, one must know when to talk, when to lobby, and the time to operate based on the spirit of giving and taking without necessarily compromising the interest of the students.

For the purpose of emphasis, one needs to always consult and acts based on facts and figures before any agitation. What defines a great union leader is not the ability to cause chaos but the capacity to articulate your points well and argue logically. Students' union leadership demands that the executive should operate based on the spirit of collectivity. They may account personally for their deeds and misdeeds. The actions may be treated as collective responsibility, meaning that members are expected to be united, be responsible, and act as a team.

To appreciate the essence of the students union politics, one needs to understand that the executive arm of the students union is responsible for the day-to-day activities and operations of the union. The Executive is to initiate policies, prepare the budget, constitute the statutory committees of the union and represent the union within and outside the institution. The parliament or the legislature, being referred to as the Students' Representatives Council, is expected to make laws, approves budget and appointments, performs oversight functions, and monitor the finances and project execution by the union. The judicial arm of the union is to interpret laws and settles disputes between the executive and the legislature.

In the final analysis, a students' union is not parallel management. It is not a license to commit crimes or engage in violence. Students' union leaders are not above the laws of the institution. They are to be obedient, reasonable, and results-oriented. Being in a Students' union offers a lot of opportunities for one's personal growth, and it gives one the necessary experience and exposure to become great in life. If you are opportune to serve as students' union leaders, explore the opportunity to achieve academic success, gain valuable connections and use the period to learn and acquire knowledge and skills for future benefits.

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