Oladele Tobi and Johnson Okunade interviewed the current BBSF president; Faith Waziri. Take your time to enjoy the interview below.
Can we meet you?
My name is Faith Onomwem Waziri. I am Kadara by tribe, from Niger state. I was born in the 1990s, August 19. I am a law student; I’m so happy I’m in my final year (laughs).
Why did you choose law as your course of study?
Whenever I hear of a scandal, I get angry. If we have a system for justice and this is what we are getting, then it means this nation is doomed.
Why did you come to Bowen University?
Well, I was to fill my JAMB form and my dad told me: “Faith you’re going to Bowen university”. That was the first time I heard about Bowen University. I asked him: “Why Bowen University?” Then he said Bowen is owned by the Nigerian Baptist Convention and it’s a good school so, there was nothing to fear.
Are you Baptist?
Which church do you attend?
I attend Great House Ministry.
Since when have you been an executive in Bowen Baptist Student Fellowship (BBSF)?
I started in my 400 level and I served as the general secretary.
The post of general secretary is one of the topmost positions in leadership. Occupying that post, what did you observe about leadership?
While occupying the post of general secretary I observed that sometimes, what you expect is not what comes to you. So as a leader you have to be always ready and always include God in your plans.
What were you able to achieve as the general secretary?
One thing that I know I was able to do was creating an avenue for students to get closer to us. Made it convenient for students to easily walk up to the BBSF on any issue whatsoever. But I don’t think I was really able to achieve that like my successor; James Oreoluwa. He is really doing a great job. And I think the fact that he’s an Information Technology (IT) student is also an advantage to The BBSF. But I think I was able to kind of lay the foundation during my tenure as the general secretary.
Why did you run for the post of BBSF?
Well, I won’t like to use the word “run”. The truth is in my 100 level; I didn’t see myself as a BBSF executive at all talk less of becoming president. But when I became the general secretary, people started calling me the next BBSF president; I still didn’t take it serious, I was just laughing because I’ve not heard anything from God. When I was nominated, I told my dad about it and he told me to pray about it and also prepare my mind. I prayed to God about it and here we are today, God has been faithful. So I won’t say I ran for this position but I see it as representing students.
So you didn’t nominate yourself?
No! I was nominated.
Do you have a yardstick for measuring your performance as the BBSF president?
Being in this office, one thing I’ve discovered is that you’ll always be in the middle, acting as an intermediary. We have the students, the chaplaincy, and we have the school management. At the end of our tenure, we will get a report, we’ll get feedbacks which can be used to measure our performance, it is actually something that is not easy because it’s like trying to satisfy everybody and satisfying people is not that easy.
Of course, I’m not expecting a 100% satisfactory comment about us because you can’t please everyone but it must be 70% and above.
As the BBSF president, what plans do you have?
Actually, our project is not something I can really talk about right now, apart from the BBSF executives. Those that are supposed to know about our plans for the project are the beneficiaries and of course, we still have God’s grace (BBSF) cafeteria. The cafeteria remains the best in Bowen University yet we have a bigger picture in mind about the serenity, the reception and so on; we are really working towards that. Apart from that we want to create a solid platform for our successors so that when they come, they will know what is on ground already, they will know the standards and how to proceed forward.
It’s recent you assumed office as the BBSF president, do you have any achievement so far?
It depends on what you are calling achievement, there are battles that we’ve fought and we’ve won but they are things that people can’t see or notice. Initially before the new vice chancellor came in I told someone that I see us working on our needs than on our fits then I didn’t know that the vice chancellor was coming. I just noticed that any idea we come up with to improve something, he’s already working onsit or planning to. An example is the renovation of Matthew (Okedara) Hall; it was exactly like we pictured, I felt fulfilled. I’ve not really sat down to count my achievements. I plan doing that at the end of this semester but I tell you that there are things that I can’t tell you about that we’ve really worked on.
Do you have any challenges so far?
Sitting in this chair is a challenge on itself(laughs). I’ve met students that wants to be BBSF president and I was like really? Are you sure you are ready for that? One thing I know is that if God did not send you to occupy this post, don’t bother occupying it because it will get to a time that it seems everyone around you is not in support of you and then the only comfort that you’ll have is knowing that it is God who put you there. As the BBSF president you have to make decisions that might even sometimes offend some people.
Do you have a way of solving the challenge of making decisions without offending anyone?
It’s not possible to make decisions without offending some people. Although I’m the BBSF president, I’m accountable to the chaplaincy, the school authority and to God. When making decisions, it is necessary to put myself in other people’s shoes and understand their way of thinking. So it is necessary to make sure that the decisions arenot tilting to one side.
As the BBSF president, people approach you on pressing issues, how have you been responding?
It’s very necessary to be diplomatic. First, I don’t blame anybody or take sides, most times I really don’t give them straight answers. I look for a way to make the pressing issue calm down first then I take it up by talkingto whoever is in charge. I always make sure students are not agitated.
How social are you?
(laughs) Me judging myself on a scale of 1-10, I will give myself maybe 1.5.
Do you have a boyfriend?
Is it wrong to have a boyfriend?
Wrong? No! If I was going to be involved in a relationship, I should have started before becoming the BBSF president. I’m a perfect model in front of some people, so imagine having a boyfriend and maybe I was busy having a meeting and I couldn’t pick his calls and he couldn’t understand it wasn’t intentional and things like that started causing misunderstandings and you start hearing things like “oh my God, even our president is breaking up”.
How have you been able to balance being the BBSF president with your academics?
Again, I will say something that really sounds cliché; it has been God.
Is this position affecting your academics in any way?
I don’t see it affecting my academics.
What do you have to say about the new vice chancellor?
I was privileged to be a member of the student committee that he passed through during his interview. During the interview, what made me like him at first was that after we asked him like two questions, he took over and we were not offended. He made us feel important and he was still able to maintain his high self-esteem without making us feel belittled. We asked him some questions and he said: “I know this is what you want, but I won’t lie to you, this is what I will do”. He is really doing a nice job, what I say may not receive favour from some people, but I really like the man.
You were the General secretary during the time of the former vice-chancellor; Professor Matthew Ojo. Between the former vice-chancellor and the new vice-chancellor, who do you prefer?
People have different personality, we all have different ways of handling things, I really do not want to compare them but If I’m to compare their attributes, I like professor Ojo’s calm nature to an extent but there are times that the calmness is not what is really needed and for Professor Joshua Ogunwole, there are some times that it is necessary to be calm, settle and observe things. But then, he is a man of action.
Is there any close relationship between the BBSF and the vice-chancellor?
Yes, the vice-chancellor cares about the students.
What is your opinion about his style of leadership?
When you’ve lived in an environment for long and in that environment, you’ve not been doing what you ought to do, you will feel not doing what you ought to do is normal. But when the pressure comes, you feel offended and tell yourself “this is wrong, I cannot take it”. But that is actually the right thing, but it feels strange because you are not used to it.
Are you saying his style of leadership is perfect, we just need to adjust?
What I’m saying is that nature, nurtures! We are all from a different background and different perspective, so what I’m saying is that he is the leader, the main thing is that we all have to buy into his vision. It cannot work out if it keeps being his vision, his way of life, his leadership, his ideology and things like that. We are all in this together.
Thursday evening service is designated for BBSF program, right?
Yes, and Sunday evening service too.
OK! What is the main purpose of Thursday evening service?
Thursday evening service is our student fellowship. You know this is the only student fellowship for denominations on campus, so Thursday service is a time we all come together and do what every other student fellowship ought to do. We share experiences with God, we fellowship with God. This is the essence of Thursday chapel and Sunday evening service.
So what do you have to say about the new style of Thursday evening service, will this continue?
It’s not a new style actually, it is just what we tried. We are really looking for a way of improving Thursday evening service.
Do you have a plan on improving Thursday evening service?
We’ve all brainstorm about this. I really wish Tobi Onigbogi; the program coordinator was here; he would be in the best position to talk about this. On Thursday 4th of October we tried something new, the program was really interesting for me, I was really blessed but I was surprised when I started hearing different comments about the program. I felt bad because I was really blessed but that wasn’t the case for most people. We want people to feel comfortable coming to chapel, we don’t want people to come because it is compulsory, we want people to say: “I’m coming to chapel because I really enjoy coming”
After listening to the word of God on Sunday, Wednesday worship service and considering the sound system in the chapel, do you think we should still come and listen to the word of God on Thursday evening?
The purpose is to fellowship with God, so if it is the word we have for the day, it should be ok, if it’s drama ministration, it should be fine if it’s just worship we should all be ok with it. Whatever we are doing, the most important thing is that we fellowship with God and we are blessed. So whatever we are doing, let God be the focus. Sitting on this chair, one thing I’ve learnt is that you cannot satisfy everyone.
What is your opinion about the university’s policy of compulsory chapel attendance?
Bowen university is a faith based university. When I was in 100 level, I had to sit down and ask myself: “Faith if chapel service is voluntary would you be going to chapel?”
And what was your response?
I still don’t have a response yet (laughs). I really sat down to think about it and my conclusion is that God is the reason we are all alive, if he decides that giving Faith oxygen should be optional, I might be in the hospital today. I wish Bowenites can just come to chapel not because they are forced to, I wish we can all come to chapel with an understanding that we are coming to fellowship with God. However, it doesn’t tell well on the image of the university that we have chapel service and people are not in chapel. Besides the motto of the university is excellence and Godliness. When a person keeps hearing the word, no matter how you keep ignoring it, it will sink in at some point. If I ever own a university, I will make chapel service compulsory.
Do you have any word of encouragement especially for people that are looking up to you?
Nobody should look up to me o (laughs). The word of encouragement I have is that let’s all look up to Jesus, let’s keep our trust in God, only then would you know yourself.