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Falana urges varsities to lift ban on student unionism


[FILE PHOTO] Femi Falana

Lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana (SAN) has stressed the need for government to lift the ban on student unionism across tertiary institutions in the country, stressing that lack of student unionism in public and private universities is breeding zombies. Speaking at the 9th convocation of Caleb University, Imota, Falana said students are expelled for protesting against perceived injustice, which is contrary to the tenets of justice.

Speaking on the topic: ‘Managing freedom, and Illusions of achievement’, he said, “Even though democracy was installed 20 years ago, the campuses have not lifted the ban on ideas. Staff and students are prohibited from exercising their rights to freedom of association. A few days ago, students of University of Benin were prevented from holding a symposium to discuss the word ‘revolution’

“As a matter of urgency, the ban on students unionism should be lifted in all campuses. I am of the view that students and staff unions will contribute meaningfully to the search for solution to the myriad of problems confronting the country if they are allowed to operate without fear of proscription.

“There has to be a deliberate policy on the part of progressive students to take the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) back from the government and re-position it to defend and protect the interests of their members.”

Speaking further, Falana said we must move away from a cargo economy to a knowledge economy, adding “You cannot develop a knowledge economy without huge and deliberate investment in human capital in the area of education.” He tasked political science departments to constantly monitor the political system, track budget performance at the Federal, state and local Government levels in order to ensure even and balanced development of all areas of the country.

Conclusively, he said faculties of engineering should have construction firms in university campuses. An in-house staff of mechanical engineers will bring in practical experience for students within the department for a thorough understanding of construction projects. “Our faculties of education should collaborate with the national commission for adult literacy. With the involvement of youth corps members and undergraduates, illiteracy can be wiped out in our country. Cuba did so in one year. Confronted by mass unemployment, our universities should redesign academic programme to include vocational education.

The acting vice chancellor, Prof. Nosa Owens-Ibe noted that compared to the 409 graduates in 2017, and 477 in 2018, 698 students are graduating this year.He added that the imperative of building a world-class university and making the institution unmatchable demands the growth of all the elements of the Caleb University dream, simultaneously, systematically and holistically. Similarly, the pro-chancellor, Prof. Fola Tayo urged the students not to follow Nigeria’s dubious ways of doing things but be shinning examples whenever they find themselves.


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