The intermittent voice of Nigerian students
Sir: Time was when the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) was vibrant and vociferous on matters concerning the welfare of students but now rarely so, as I see it. The last time I commended NANS was when it spoke against the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (GMB) for appointing elderly persons and not younger persons to fill administrative positions. But I also wondered why NANS saw nothing wrong with the reelection of GMB himself who is on his way to eighty, and at the same time and his administration is committing corruption, carnage and economic destruction of Nigeria; sinking Nigeria in debts, economic misery, and insecurities.
The shabby treatment of youth corps (fresh graduates on the mandatory one-year National Youth Service Corps – NYSC) without anybody fighting for them was another issue I raised. Some of the corps members have to rent a place to live at their own expense and face hazards that government ought to have forestalled. Is NANS concerned about the fact that government has yielded to the pressure to allow final year primary and secondary students to resume? What about university students (young adults) whose first semester exams were stopped midway by the lockdown order? I know that Dr. Solomon Oyelekan raised concern about undergraduate finalists on a platform. My mind then went to NANS.
No, the President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof. Abiọdun Ogunyẹmi, did not ask government not to reopen schools, but to resolve lingering issues. In his words, “the Federal Government should address the challenges of education sector before it can talk of reopening schools.” Otherwise, no serious Nigerian will wait for all the impossible and unnecessary conditions listed by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), when Nigerians have resumed normal marketing and travelling without any crisis. Is it resumption of schools will produce crisis?
The Integrated Payroll of Personnel Information System (IPPIS), which government imposed on tertiary academic institutions has created enormous problems, which is a distraction from the core issues of which ASUU is seeking resolution. News gatherers should also interview NANS’ officers to voice out on relevant issues. Some people are insinuating that NANS has been hijacked by politicians. What form of advocacy are NANS’ officers engaging-in? The purpose of all this is the future of Nigeria. Why, for instance, should the issue of NYSC not be of concern to NANS, when the serving youths have no other association or union to fight for their welfare? Is NANS in order keeping mute when some people are fighting for primary and secondary schools’ finalists, etc?
• Prof. Ọlọjẹẹde Oyeniran Abiọjẹ wrote from University of Ilorin.
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