HOW time has changed the vision and ideological reflexes of the umbrella of students’ unionism in Nigeria, the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS!
Formed as the National Union of Nigerian Students, NUNS, in the 1970s as a revolutionary vanguard of youth dynamism for the promotion of good governance, justice and the rule of law; and led by committed and fearless progressives such as the late Segun Okeowo, NUNS commanded the mass solidarity of students nationwide and helped to force positive changes even during the military eras.
But today, NANS is a hollow shadow of itself, with some members of its leadership fighting to outdo one another for the favours of politicians; a trait that has been noticeable since the restoration of our democracy.
The latest infamy that threatens to tear the Association asunder was the recent visit by the NANS leadership led by Danielson Bamidele Akpan to President Muhammadu Buhari in which Akpan was reported to have promised to “pull nothing less than 20 million votes” for the president and candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
The striking Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, had also accused the NANS leadership of “selling out” to the Presidency for a huge sum, which has since been denied by the Association’s leadership. The actions of the Akpan-led NANS had forced a former President of the Association, Abdul Mahmud, to angrily demand that his name be deleted from all documents of NANS.
In a twist of irony, the same Akpan-led NANS had, earlier in September 2018, dissociated itself from the open endorsement of the APC governorship candidate in Lagos, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu by some youth and student groups, describing it as “embarrassing”. In a statement, Akpan had hinted that: “NANS will make its decision (about the primaries in the various political parties) known based on the interests of its members, which is majorly educational development and rightfully direct them in fulfilling their civic responsibilities.”
It is about time that the students and youths of this country called their various executive bodies to order in respect of their reckless hobnobbing with politicians. NANS is the umbrella of all students who have all shades of political opinions and interests. Allowing the leadership to railroad NANS to support any particular party or its candidate will destroy the association and deny it of its capacity to help drive positive change and good governance.
We call on students’ union leaders, especially those of NANS, who are interested in partisan politics to resign their posts and join political parties of their choice. They should stop dragging the image of students’ unionism in the mud.
Students should return to progressive unionism and activism. They should stop behaving like opportunistic, hungry youth who have no future.