STUDENTS UNION GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS:
One of the most difficult mandates of Student Affairs Department is the duty to conduct elections into the various elective offices of the Students Union Government (SUG).
In the preceeding section, we raised the issue of nurturing and managing the Students Union Government arising from the fact that these young, energetic and promising leaders are also exuberant, adventurous and slightly undiscerning in their age.
Otherwise, why should the Student Affairs Department be charged with the onerous responsibility of conducting elections into elective positions of the SUG? Some institutions have tried to allow students conduct their own elections with awkward results. The outcome of this experiment, but for one or two cases have been largely disastrous in most respects hence the Students Affairs department is still charged with this function in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
An electoral committee comprising of both staff and students is constituted by the University Administration with the Dean of Students as Chairman. The committee is in charge of all aspects of the election including:
- Setting the time table for the elections
- Nomination of Candidates
- Screening of Candidates
- Stating the guideline and period for campaign by Candidates
- Organizing the presentation of manifesto by Candidates
- Organizing the voting proper, counting the votes and
- Declaration of the results
To qualify as a legitimate candidate in the election, most institutions insist among other things, on some or a combination of the following:
- Candidate must have spent at least one full session in the institution
- Candidate must not be a member of a secret cult
- Candidate must have a cumulative Grade Point average of at least 3.5
- The candidate must have been a registered student for the current session
It is during the screening of candidates that the committee crosschecks the claims stated by a candidate with his/her form and makes a pronouncement on whether a candidate is qualified to run for office or not. Security agents also largely assist the University with information on any candidate membership/non-membership status to a secret cult.
This step has been useful to the University but has caused certain problems for other Universities in circumstances where the agencies have been compromised by interests. After the screening, the list of qualified candidates is published and the temporary restrain on any form of campaign is lifted. The University limits the type/features of campaigns that candidates would be involved in, including the use of coloured posters or organizing a motorcade. The campaign usually terminates between 12-24 hours before voting commences, with the presentation of a written or oral manifesto before the voters.
Voting may be organized in a general polling center, or in designated polling centers using Faculties and Departments as the basis for delineation. After voting, counting of votes and announcements of the results, the committee becomes functus officio and all complaints arising from the conduct of the elections now go to an Election Tribunal constituted by the administration to review the activities of the Electoral Board.
The current practice mandates that no officer-elect whose election is being challenged at the Electoral Tribunal should be sworn into the office before a verdict is given by the tribunal. The tribunal is given2 weeks to conclude its sessions, findings and conclusions.