A university lecturer, Prof Sam Egwu, has said that there is need for a renewal of vigorous activism in Nigeria to act as a check in governance and guarantee citizens’ rights.
Egwu, who lectures at the Lagos State University, said this in an interview with New Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
According to him, one of the key issues affecting social activism today is the decline of intellectual tradition in campuses.
“If we must guarantee a future in which Nigeria citizens are to be empowered, to make their leaders and the institution of the state and of the market accountable and responsive, we cannot run away from rebuilding the activists‘pipeline.
“I think we need to go back to sources of the breakage of that pipe,’’ he said.
He said nowadays, people organise rallies based on religion, ethnicity and region instead of the original intent which was for national unity and progress.
Egwu said to rebuild activism, schools had to teach students the values and importance of activism.
“In the 1980s, students were linked to labour, intellectual radical teachers, and there was intellectual freedom in which students were taught all manner of things.
“Issues of ideology disappeared and when ideology disappears, other influences take over.
“Now we have a generation of students who do not have the kind of orientation that students had in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.
“So we really need to return to those days and if we don’t do that, society will be in trouble. We have to return to the original idea of our founding fathers.
“The idea that deliberately made a choice to be built on one national identity out of different ethnicities without obliterating ethics and religious differences.’’
He urged that the university campuses must become centres for production of knowledge and ideas and people must produce them free in the tradition of academic freedom.
The lecturer added that the government must recognise that we need to produce critical minds that will be able to interrogate every reality around them.
Also speaking with NAN, Ms Mma Odi, Acting General-Secretary, ACE-Nigeria agreed that post-civil war activists who worked assiduously for the unity of the country were necessary.
According to her, the pressure exerted by vibrant unions on government and institutions always yield positive results.
“They were active in all fronts, vocal in denouncing violations of human rights and wrong policies and decisions of government.’’
She said there was need for all civil society organisations to be sensitive to the plight of the common man and fight on policies that will uplift and better their lives.