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June 24, 2024

Restoration of student unionism: Anxiety at UNILAG over NANS’ ultimatum

Restoration of student unionism: Anxiety at UNILAG over NANS’ ultimatum

… security personnel deployed at school gate

By Adesina Wahab and Elizabeth Osayande, Lagos

Anxiety gripped the main campus of the University of Lagos, UNILAG, Akoka, on Monday as tension rose over calls by student leaders for the restoration of student unionism in the institution.

The situation led to the deployment of security personnel at the main gate of the university, as there were fears that the leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, could mobilise students to protest.

Incidentally, some faculties and departments held elections for their associations same day, and some students used the opportunity to demand the restoration of student unionism.

Speaking in a chat with Vanguard, the Head of the Media Unit of the university, Alhaja Ajoke Alaga Ibrahim, dispelled the claim of any protest at the university.

“There was no protest. Some faculties and departments held elections for their associations today. We gathered that a section of NANS sent a report that some online media feasted on some days ago, giving the management an ultimatum to restore student unionism. No letter to that effect was sent to the management.

“Moreover, the management of the university has set up a committee to look into the student unionism issue and members drawn students and others, including the NANS faction we know, and the committee will submit its report by the end of this month,” she said.

However, a student leader, Femi Adeyeye, who is the co-convener of the Fund Education Coalition, FEC, said in an interview with Vanguard that no students participated in any protest.

He alleged that the school authorities had requested security presence in and around UNILAG to preempt any potential protest following NANS’ 14-day ultimatum for the restoration of SUG.

Adeyeye stated, “As a coalition, we oppose the privatization and commercialization of education, particularly emphasizing the need for the democratization of the school community and the reinstatement of SUG.

“The media uproar was triggered by NANS’ ultimatum to UNILAG to restore SUG. The ultimatum expired today, and the school management, in their usual suppressive manner, deployed police officers throughout the campus.

“Protest was not even on our agenda today. Our demand is the reinstatement of SUG. However, this does not rule out the possibility of future protests if necessary.”

In 2016, the management of the universities suspended student unionism following a violent protest by the students over poor municipal services, among others.