Nigeria Students ‘Unionism’ On Sale: The Need For Rescue By Whyte Habeeb Ibidapo
It is noteworthy to say that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. No doubt the principle of political participation in democracy has been extended to all spheres. The Nigerian system has also created an opportunity for her youths to grow politically and ensure the constant practice of political leadership in their own constituency. The youths have grown politically through the establishment of various bodies like National Association of Nigerian Students, Nigeria Youth Parliament, National Youth Council etc. These bodies were established for the upliftment and development of the youth constituency. That was the basis of their establishment but the case is reverse. There is urgent need for reforms to be made so that the glory of the youth constituency can be gained again.
I wish to subscribe to this idea of reform of our students’ youth movement as a prerequisite to sustaining the reforms birthed by the change that we all strove for. It is pertinent because student unionism have being compromised since the inception of democracy 16 years ago. Across all higher institutions in Nigeria, the prime driving force of unionism has financial self-enrichment to the extent that students’ union governments experience such magnitude of corruption that sometimes make mean the corrupt of political office holders we condemn. Students’ leaders scramble for avenues to enrich themselves from the first minute of their elections. The scampering for political bigwigs to associate with begins immediately they voted in, and the governments or political appointees who dole out money to them becomes the ‘good’ government to be supported with machinery of the students.
Students are therefore being used to perpetuate various political evils at a time they should be home to exercise their legitimate franchise on merit as their contribution to the political process. They rather than become the enlightened soul of their communities actually help to nurture the political rots that will further the bastardisation of our future. Student union leaders today engage in all kinds of diabolic things to manipulate, rig, and perpetuate election fraud and therefore have no will power to confront managements and/or governments in protection of student’s interest. This was heightened by direct financial inducements by politicians and political aspirants.
The wrath in the mentality of student’s leaders was further helped by access to funds via union dues. Union dues becomes a fees to be increased at inflation rates so it will be enough to go round. Cases of emptying union treasury at the end every regime without any visible or worthwhile projects are now the stories. How many houses, how many cars and how exotic, how fat are bank accounts become the relevant questions and not how a regime has affected student’s lives and academic performance positively, how it has creatively engaged all stakeholders to better the lots of students on campus and projected a future meaningful for them after graduation. The driving force of unionism today and degree of corruption has made it appealing in most institutions only to the tough, rugged, crook and low intelligent and weak minded ones who lack any sceptre of activism. Hence, the student and youth movement becoming a strong tool for the bastardisation of the future which include theirs and pitiably with their approval.
Those who have used unionism to amass wealth with pride of ignorance of the alternative forgone, do not understand that;
* Nigeria has a youth population of over 100million making over 62% of our population;
* Nigerian youths in number are greater than the entire population of other West African states put together like Ghana and even more than the population of South Africa;
* Nigerian youths are the most energetic in the world, with capacity to work for 20 put of the 24 hrs making a day;
* Nigerian youths are the most dogged who could be marketing of commodities on high ways, riding of commercial motorcycle or cab, working as casual workers in factories and yet combining that with education and still excel;
* Nigerian youths are die hard with creative potentials to stimulate happiness under antagonistic conditions and
* Nigerian youths are most endowed with the intellectual capacity to imitate, copy, assemble, and transfer knowledge and craft.
All these tremendous potentials make it glaring that the contributions of youths alone to economic and national development is enough to put Nigeria in the class of great nations, and that the denial of the nation of this potential is enough to keep it in perpetual poverty and annihilation.
However it is not good enough to suggest that students’ bodies should be scrapped. NANS is not the problem the same way Nigeria nation’s amalgamation is never our problem. Our problem is the human souls that have failed to respond to positive nurturing of truth and wise counsels of our founding fathers. If we have to scrap NANS, NYC, NYP, then we have to scrap most mosques, most churches, most universities, most polytechnics, most colleges, most secondary schools, even most primary schools where corrupt values are bread and ill-souls nurtured.
I want to rather propose that;
- All youth groups must be denied access to fund. From national to institutions, student leadership should be seen as a training ground for future leaders and not an avenue for money mongering. Student’s dues are actually meant for purposes that are essentially responsibilities of government. Union dues should be abrogated so that unionism is maintained as a student interest group. This will make it attractive only to youths who have the spirit to serve, not to rule and are intelligent enough to give the students worthwhile and effective representation. Same should apply to NYC and NYP. All their activities should be funded through subventions and must be accounted for. This is to achieved in ways that does not deny the unions their autonomy in protecting students’ rights
- This should be followed with a national reorientation programme to correct the ongoing materialism. The reorientation programme will direct youth energy and potentials to productive sectors as a strategy for deploying the potentials for national development.
The bases of the proposal is the awareness that, it is the responsibility of the society or government to mould her youths into constructive players in her national development. Leaving youths to develop without mentoring or orientation makes them into destructive players.
(WHYTE HABEEB IBIDAPO is a Lawyer, United Nations Award winner, Africa International Arbitration Award winner and Coca cola/ The Nation Campuslife Award Winner and Runner-Up Promasidor Awards for Nigeria Future Writer.