This week, Tell! Interviews Oluokun Salman Abiodun, the president of
Federation of Oyo State Students’ Union (FOSSU) on his remarkable achievments and milestones as president.
Many people know the magnanimity of FOSSU President but not all. Can we hear more about you?
I am Oluokun Salman Abiodun. I hail from Oyo Axis of Oyo State: born into a family of ten in the early part of ’90s, I grew up in the same environment as I had my primary and secondary school education both in Oyo town and I’m currently a student one of those science orientated departments.
Tell Us about FOSSU?
FOSSU is an acronyms for Federation of Oyo State Students’ Union. It is the umbrella body of all students that come from all the five geo-political zones of Oyo State. The zones include Oyo, Ibadan, Ogbomosho, Oke Ogun and Ibarapa. FOSSU UI is a chapter under the National body of the Association. Here in University of Ibadan , FOSSU is the largest indigenous Association on campus. Our members, according to the Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Abel Idowu Olayinka, constitute 31% of all the undergraduate students in the University. That is meant to be so because UI is sited right in Oyo State and you know, Oyo State students that will apply to study in the institution will cut across all the five Zones in the state. FOSSU UI is not a new Association on campus as it has been in existence since 1991. It was founded by Our father, Dr. Abiodun Adetokunbo who is a lecturer here in UI at Faculty of Art. Dr. Abiodun was the first President of the Union and the likes of Dr. Wasiu Olatunbosun (erstwhile Chairman of Ibadan southwest Local Government), Barrister Sarafadeen Alli and other prominent personalities as the first set of executives. FOSSU UI, since the time of her existence, has HRM, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III as her ground patron.
How did you come to the picture of FOSSU?
I was nominated from my zone. The mode of operation in FOSSU here is quite different from other associations’. We do rotate the portfolios within the five zones. That is to give sense of belonging and unity to all the zones. One zone will produce two executives in an administration. The executive positions are rotated in such a way as to allow peace to reign among the members of the Union. So, when it was the turn of Oyo to produce President, I was nominated and that was how I came to be the president of the association for this session. FOSSU has contributed largely to the development of the University community.
Before you came into the administration, what change did you notice now that never occurred when you weren’t a President?
Well, before we came to the helms of affairs, FOSSU was not this vibrant as the population of students that were conscious of the activities of the Association were not up to what we have now. So, we have been able to maintain contact with our members through time to time information dissemination about the activities and movements of the Union. Our members are more conscious of FOSSU than before. And that is the big change if you ask me.
Also, we have been able to establish new things just to re-brand our Union. We started A Royalty Celebration which is aimed at celebrating the Royal Digits across Oyo State and Yoruba nation at large. We aim that this should be done annually and thus sustaining the legacy. We also started a FOSSU movie show to balance the socio-cultural and academic life of our members. The movie show is different from what we used to have across other associations and halls of residence because we are able to bring some Nollywood stars down for interactive session. This too was not in existence before and we hope would be sustained by the incoming administrations. There are many things that we did that are new to the Association: we also produced souvenirs for our active members to serve as a form of encouragement.
Your academic pursuit can be a blessing to many in either ways, please share some challenges you’ve faced especially coupled with running an administration?
Just like every human, I encountered many challenges in my academic sojourn. I still fight many battles within. Tribulations visited me untold, I lost my Gold. Looking for how to cope, I turn a gospeller of hope. I am not where I longed to be but I am striving never to get discouraged. Now, those who truly know me will know that taking the leadership of FOSSU at the time I did wa not the best thing for someone who is yet to have a full root at that time. For someone who was struggling both financially and academically. But I just determined to take it upon myself. At least, we can only die once. And man surely must die for something. Running FOSSU alone is a huge task because the Union doesn’t charge fee from her members and people will want you to do things for the Association. You also won’t want to be like a snake crawling on a rock without leaving any impact of traces at all. So, you run from North to south to get resources all by yourself to implement your dreams for the Union.
Your administration, to many, is the most remarkable and resounding one. How did you come about the leadership?
Well, like I always tell people, every administration dreams of setting records and leaving legacies but lack of resources always make us shelve our dreams for the Union. I have many beautiful programmes I would have done had it been that the Union is financially buoyant. I dreamt of having a programme that centers around the Yoruba culture where Ooni of Ife would be the Speaker of the day. I had wanted to have a FOSSU Community Health awareness program where we would have to go to a village to give people free health treatment and all these were not possible because of money. What I am saying is every administration did her best for the union. Low Financial strength is a constraint. I was able to implement few of the plans we had because, financially, I have my mother’s backings. I call her to get funds and she would answer without delay. I will pay her back after the event though but had it been I don’t have her to run to, maybe all these won’t be possible. I also have some friends that also supported with money too. Some will give me the money while some will borrow me and I’d return them. And there are instances where I had to spend my own personal money on FOSSU. For example, the last programme that we did, the movie show, huge part of what I spent came from my pocket. It is all sacrifice that come from the love we have for the Union.
The last movie night organised by your administration must have stumbled on a lot of skinned bottles, let us learn from it?
Oh yes! Let me start from her: having a movie show was among my plans for the Association, just like I made mention of few above. I had nurtured this plan since first semester. In fact, I wanted to bring Sir Tunde Kilani to Campus and we would have a show of Mainframe’s latest movie titled “Sidi Ilujinle”. The idea was to host Tunde Kilani for two days.
First day would be movie night. He had agreed to even show the movie. That one has not even been on market. You know his works are globa and that movie is still attending conferences and all.
I asked him to come with the top actors that are in that movie: Ibrahim Chatta, Oga Bello, Jinadu Ewele, among others and he had agreed to bring up to four of the casts.
Second day would be tagged “Interaction with Tunde Kilani and Friends”
where people will ask those actors questions. Just a two-hour programme. But when I consider the logistics, I realized an Association that charges no fee like ours might find it hard. I sought for sponsors in different dimensions but to no avail. So, I almost shelved the dream until I realized we can still get it done just by reviewing our taste. We reduced the program to just one day programme and then looked for a very beautiful story that will still make sense. It is not a most we bring Baba TK.
That also didn’t come without its challenges: I firstly dropped ten thousand naira for my social director to cater for the miscellaneous part of the activity and we budgeted for two hundred audience show, then the venue was the toughest aspect of it. To get free venue in this campus is a problem. We were looking for free venue because we had little funds, and the duration we have too: the actors were the ones that picked a date. You should understand that we can’t give them date. They will be the one to pick based on their schedules. They picked a date that was not convenient for us. We had not done enough publicity for the event as at a week to the date they picked. We had not gotten a venue as at a week to the chosen date to and that made the race to be a tough one. Then we started the publicity, people trended our graphics, they did repost our broadcast and we started pushing for venue which we got by friday, when it was few days to the programme. The venue was made the venue known to the people when it was just three days to the programme. All those were challenging. There was a day I took my first meal around 9:00pm. The struggle for venue was so tough that I nearly gave up on the film show just because free venue wasn’t coming through. After that, we spent some money we didn’t budget for on that very day. We had to pay the security men that would be around on that day, we paid unbudgeted fees on that very day. All thanks to my good friend that covered the hole for me. We requested financial assistance from like ten people and only two people responded. We ain’t entitled to anyone’s money and that’s why I had to appreciate those who supported us after the event. We thank God we were alright. The lesson I learnt from the whole saga was to never give up on your dreams too soon.
The movie titled “Ologun Eru” is ground breaking. What do you have to say concerning Yoruba movies and our cultural ethics?
Ologun Eru is very dope. A very interesting story I watch over and over again. The cultural display is topnotch. kudos to the writer and producer. We still have some good Storywriter in the Yoruba movie industry that do well to give our culture the deserved chroma. People like Taofeek Adewale, Ibrahim Chatta, Ojopagogo are doing fine when it comes to making good cultural films.
Any strategy to promote the movie?
I think we have done our own quota to promote the movie. Many people have been demanding to have the movie from me after the movie show. Some have not watched it before while some have. In all, we have contributed hugely to appreciate the owner of the story.
What is your future ambition and how can it promote Yoruba belief?
I am working towards becoming a renowned Broadcast journalist. I am already a volunteer at Diamond FM. I work there and I am under the tutelage of some professionals in that line. So, I hope to promote Yoruba culture and tradition through what I do.
We all talk about civilization: it cannot be killed because as many strive to protect culture, many also transform themselves with civilization tools. How can we imbibe Yoruba culture that we don’t need to tackle civilization anymore?
Actually, civilization has come and it has come to stay. No one can obstruct that. Civilization has actually aided propagation of our culture too. We only don’t have to take the bad aspect of what civilization has brought. Or look at this now, it is our culture to eat “Amala” with bare hands. We don’t have to eat with spoon, like some people do. Eating with my hand doesn’t mean I am uncivilized. So we only need to accept civilization with sense. It doesn’t stop you from propagating the culture. There are some cultural beliefs too that are too obsolete for the modern world. For example, the tribal mark, but the issue of speaking our language without mixing it up with English, the issue of greeting the elder in an appropriate way, eating swallow food with hands, dressing among others, are the cultural practices that should not be dropped for any foreign dictate.
Any last Remarks?
To all active and passive members of FOSSU UI, I want to say thank you for the support this administration has enjoyed from you so far. You all are the reasons we have come this far. I pray we all will have a more beautiful and memorable stay on campus. You all should give the incoming administrations more support than you gave us. God bless You all.
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