Emmanuel Nwobodo: Tribute to the 3rd LAWSAN President -By Munir Shuaibu Ishaq
Friday, the 12th of July 2019, brought to an end the 3rd LAWSAN Convention held at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, and also the day of elections, wherein Emmanuel E. Nwobodo, a former Senator at LAWSAN, representing the University of Benin Constituency, emerged as the 3rd President of LAWSAN. I personally criticized the whole process in a widely circulated piece, largely due to what was later succinctly described as the ‘Zaria experience.’
On assuming office, Emmanuel Nwobodo did not only hit the ground running immediately, but almost caught everyone by surprise when he announced the appointment of Umoh Edet, his opponent for the LAWSAN Presidency who was disqualified on the day of elections – howbeit humbly accepted his disqualification in good faith, without attempting to cause further troubles – as the National Director for the Directorate of Programs, Policies and Projects. I also read with a degree of disbelief his message intimating me of his intentions I serve as the National Director for the Directorate of Students’ Rights, after knowing fully well the wide and wild reactions my previously mentioned piece generated.
One predominant feature about him which permeated through his administration, is the serious minded and business like atmosphere of leadership. Few weeks into his administration, it was felt everywhere that his government was not the regular siddon look and dormant student government obtainable today. He planted the seed to the great success recorded by his administration when he meekly invited his former opponent to join him in navigating the value train. The only logical end such gesture invariably leads to, is massive results and impactful outcomes. This is true, in so far 1+1 = 2.
A close study of his person reveals an energetic young man, in mind and body. It is evident that he has succeeded – to a fair extent – in establishing first his rulership and control within the kingdom of his inner self, so that he is in charge and control of his interior and not the other way round. In doing this, he succeeded in discharging the obligations of leadership in the exterior, making him a leader inside out. After all, one cannot give what he does not have.
I do not wish to bother you with the talks of the numerous feats and giant strides recorded by his administration, the records are there in the public domain. I wish to cite however, one specific instance, that further validated my conviction on the truism of his leadership dexterity. The courtesy visit by the LAWSAN leadership around mid January 2020 to the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo SAN is no more new information. As the head of the Directorate of Students’ Rights, I was part of the 15 man delegation.
The night before, we spent considerable time deliberating and brainstorming on the issues we were to present before the Vice President, sitting before him however, it felt as if we had done little or nothing of such. Due to the prevailing tension, I started harbouring fears and mixed feelings whether we will be articulate in our presentations before his Excellency, who from a single glance, is not in for the servile flattery and sycophancy politicians usually get from their visitors. The redness in the eyes of the president who was also the spokesman, as he prepared to commence his presentation, was glaring. Nevertheless he was determined to deliver fully our case, and he did not only delivered, but delivered excellently, the attendant nodding at intervals by his Excellency and his comments after the presentation attest to that. It is one thing to convince a politician, it is another thing to convince a politician who doubles as a Professor of Law and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
The selflessness he exhibited as the President is in no small measure, he redefined student unionism in a unique and peculiar way, that several fellow student leaders heading other associations, especially from the sciences often asked me how is it we are able to achieve all we were doing at LAWSAN. He brought fame and great recognition to LAWSAN through his value oriented programs that at the end of the day, commendations were flying around from all angles across the country, LAWSANites and non LAWSANites.
I would best describe the election crisis that rocked the tail end of his administration as unavoidable, largely due to reasons I will proceed anon to highlight. From the earlier mentioned precedents he established and the limelight he has thrown LAWSAN into, it is not in doubt that LAWSAN is on the path to global recognition, the tussle and quest for its new leadership must definitely take a new dimension. I explained earlier that his opponent for the presidency, Umoh Edet was disqualified, and who after accepting his disqualification in good faith honoured the invitation to work together with him, and he, Umoh Edet, did exactly just that, faithfully and humbly, and was recently rightly awarded the glorious ‘LAWSAN Man of the Year.’ I did not state however the reason for his disqualification and it is simply because he, Umoh Edet did not served in an ‘elected or appointed’ position before his candidacy as required by the electoral rules, established pursuant to the provisions of the LAWSAN Constitution.
Emmanuel Nwobodo, by the sheer workings of providence, emerged as the President, through this process, and did not wish for a further repetition of a similar scenario in the 4th LAWSAN elections, hence why he gladly, and promptly blessed with an appointment, one of the presidential candidates in the recent elections after he, the candidate, intimated him that he is desirous of such appointment. This, the former President did, in a bid to ensure a fair contest, even though, the candidate was later disqualified by the electoral committee for his failure to satisfy a different requirement. Unfortunately, the supporters of this same candidate are at the forefront in the attacks toward the person of the former President.
The Crux of their complaints against the former President, Emmanuel Nwobodo is that he favoured the new President, Dr Blessing Agbomhere and gave him an edge over the other opponents when he appointed him as the Chairman of the Convention Planning Committee. Mr Blessing before his appointment was serving as the LAWSAN State Coordinator for the FCT, and has proved over time and severally his abilities in seeing to the successful execution of programs, largely due to his modest influence and affluence, big circle and wide connections, a product of his several years of professional and political experience as an accomplished writer and advocate for good governance who once dared to vie for the governorship seat of his home state. I personally would not have forgiven Emmanuel Nwobodo if he had retracted the strategic appointment of such an individual as the Chairman of the LAWSAN Convention Planning Committee, simply because this person wished to succeed him as the President. LAWSAN Convention generally and it’s planning is one thing, LAWSAN elections specifically is another thing. While the success of the former is the primary duty of the Convention Planning Committee, the latter is entirely outside the purview of their duties, and a duty of the electoral committee. This is true literally and constitutionally.
With such an existing aforementioned state of things, election crisis is unavoidable as there can never be a win-win for all parties. The new standing and recognition the former President has succeeded in establishing for LAWSAN making its leadership more alluring and attractive than before, like a beautiful heavily endowed woman ready for marriage, who attracts even suitors that know very well she is beyond their leagues, even though they may later on prove their worths if they got the opportunity. The further strategic appointment of persons who will ensure the success of the Convention, who accidentally one of such key persons wished to extend further his services if given the chance to. All these provided a fertile ground for the concoction of certain theories and widespread claims against the former President, who by his appointments, first by validating the eligibility of the candidacy of the subsequently disqualified candidate (on other grounds) of the aggrieved persons, and second his appointment into the Convention Planning Committee the other candidate who later won in a vote duly counted in the presence of election agents without them protesting at the material time, all point to the fact that Emmanuel Nwobodo only acted in furtherance of the betterment of LAWSAN. In the first case of appointment, he empowered the candidate of the disgruntled party because he wanted a free and fair contest where a candidate won’t be simply disqualified because he has not served before, in the other case of appointment, the capacities of the gentleman in question who later succeeded him, in delivering results and making the Convention a success is not in doubt, hence his appointment.
Emmanuel Nwobodo came, saw and conquered, he has proved, in all ramifications, to be leadership material. If the claims of those persons that nurse certain reservations with regards an Igbo presidency is to be accorded any consideration, Emmanuel Nwobodo, has through his achievements, as the 3rd Captain of the LAWSAN ship disproved and refuted completely those reservations. In as much he continues to thread on his present path and principles, he will be the best thing that ever happened to the Nigeria of his time, if he gets to navigate the affairs of this country.
By the unfailing laws of the universe, he will reap in abundant measures tomorrow his efforts in service to LAWSAN and LAWSANites today. His exemplary leadership shall forever remain a hallmark of excellence worthy of emulation, for future generations to come in LAWSAN and other student unions in Nigeria and at large.
God bless Emmanuel Nwobodo.
God bless LAWSAN.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Munir Shuaibu Ishaq, COL.
Immediate past National Director, Directorate of Students’ Rights LAWSAN.
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