LEADERSHIP IS ALL ABOUT MAKING SACRIFICES: WHAT STUDENTS' POLITICS TAUGHT ME

I am of the opinion that a purposeful leadership will accomplish many tasks and create a lasting impact on the lives of the citizenry. Our leaders are not prepared to make the sacrifices that come with leadership hence we have a failure of leadership all over the African continent.

In 2010, I was in the third year, entering the fourth year in the university of Uyo when I was asked to contest unopposed as the Secretary-General of Crop Science Students Association (COSSA). We had a peculiar problem of leadership in student politics of the department. The previous regime had been a massive failure mismanaging funds and resources of the association leading to a lack of interest and boycott of the activities of the student union by students. Hence students were not interested in holding positions.

Emem Nsikan, my friend who had asked me to contest was running unopposed as President of the Departmental association.

We were elected and inaugurated.

We took it upon ourselves to restore leadership and dignity to the association.

Our first task was conducting the customary welcome party for freshers in year one, something that had been long abandoned.

We did the freshers reception.

We set up an editorial board for the departmental association.

We held a departmental congress, an event that had been boycotted by students at previous times.
Our students from all levels attended.
They were surprised to be given the agenda of the meeting, printed and distributed to every attendee. They were shocked to be given refreshments. They had never been given the agenda of a congress or offered refreshments before.

Right from that first Congress, we started having full attendance in all our departmental congresses and meetings as students had noticed positive changes in the way the association was being run.

Students were beginning to pay departmental dues because they saw that the dues were being utilized by the association.
We met our lecturers to present issues raised by the students to them. We strove to establish and maintain a good relationship between students and lecturers.

We were approachable, mixing and interacting with our students, attending to requests and offering solutions.

We embarked on a couple of projects.

We announced a departmental excursion to a reputable farm owned by a former military governor of Akwa Ibom state. Such a thing had never happened before in the history of the association.

We went for the excursion, met the distinguished personality who took us on a tour of his farm and thereafter entertained us. After the tour, the same day we went to Ibeno beach for a party. We had brought our food and drinks. Such a thing had never happened before.

By the time we came back the news was all over the campus.

We then announced that we were going to hold a socials/awards night/beauty pageant competition.

This was the biggest of them all. It was bigger than the Inter-level football competition we sponsored and the new jerseys we bought for the departmental team.
It sounded impossible.

Out of the seven departments in the Faculty of Agriculture, only one department- The Department of Food Science and Technology had held a socials night. It was unthinkable that a department with a small student population like the Department of Crop Science would be able to host such event. Where would we get the money?

We set up a committee and began to plan.
But this time around even our fellow exco members did not believe that we could host the event. After an exco meeting where tempers flared, they pulled out leaving just me and the President alone.

The President turned to me and asked me, "Iniobong do you believe we can still host this thing? Do you believe we can pull this off successfully?"

I looked at him and said to him, "Yes, we can do it"

So we stuck to our guts and pushed on.

We held the event.

Little Play House, the venue was filled to capacity. The Deejay gave an outstanding performance. We gave the awards to deserving lecturers and students. We had all our invited artistes and comedians perform including Mc Galaxy who was then Uyo based. We gave refreshments. The beauty pageant show was a success and we crowned the first ever Miss Crop Science.

By the time the event ended minutes after midnight we heaved a sigh of relief.

The news broke on campus and we became the talking point of the campus.

We had brought respect to ourselves and to the department. We became the reference point, till we graduated. By the time our tenure ended and nomination forms were out for the election of the new exco, students rushed to pick the forms to contest for positions.

What most people didn’t know was that behind the scenes, I and the President had vowed to make sacrifices to ensure that we ran a successful student’s government. We made sacrifices of our financial resources, time, mental resources and other things. We used our personal monies to finance our projects and events. By the time we left, we didn’t make money for ourselves we made money for the association and brought prestige and dignity to the department while restoring the confidence of students in the student’s association.

Leadership is all about making sacrifices.

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Iniobong Leroi Umoh

Iniobong Leroi Umoh

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I am a multi-contextual writer with a vast interest in fiction, pop-culture, tech, satire and politics. infoleric@gmail.com.