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NANS, Cleanse Thyself- An Open Letter To The Yinka Gbadebo Led Students Body By Solanke Abiola

September 9, 2013

Fraternal greetings to the leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students[NANS] led by our erudite and indefatigable Comrade Yinka Gbadebo 'Ayefele'. I hope my letter meets you well. Kudos on the struggles so far in advocating for the rights of Nigerian students.May the spirit of Aluta continue to back us up and may we never stumble.

Fraternal greetings to the leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students[NANS] led by our erudite and indefatigable Comrade Yinka Gbadebo 'Ayefele'. I hope my letter meets you well. Kudos on the struggles so far in advocating for the rights of Nigerian students.May the spirit of Aluta continue to back us up and may we never stumble.

Please, permit me to delve into history a bit.

In 1925, an umbrella body for Nigerian Students, the West African Students Union (WASU) was formed to defend the right of Nigerian Students. In 1956, it metamorphosed into National Union of Nigerian Students (NUNS) which later became the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS).

In 1980, NANS became the umbrella body of Nigerian Students. The body is meant to defend the interest of Nigerian Students all over the country and ensure that the right of its members are defended at all times. NANS was a strong movement in the 80’s and 90’s which moved against the military junta and became the albatross of oppressive governments in the country.

It is thus unfortunate that NANS has lost its relevance as a Voice for Nigerian Students, it has become a sounding cymbal which does not add harmonious tunes to songs. It is no longer the voice of Nigerian Students and thus has lost credibility among many Nigerian Students.

At the commencement of the strike action by ASUU on July 2, 2013, its National President Dr Nasir F. Isa lamented the state of the Students body especially NANS. Dr Nasir stated the obvious truth that most student leaders in the country especially at the level of NANS were possible drop-outs, government agents, Youth Corps members and individuals of questionable characters. He stated further ‘’ As a Union with a stake in the future of our youths and nation, ASUU shall use her networks to monitor and identify the true status of those who currently parade themselves as student leaders nationwide. We are determined to indigenise student unionism in our campuses’’. Thus, it has gotten to the point where Staff Unions are interested in helping us cleanse our house, what a shame!!

Just like our respected uncle, Agbo Agbo said in his article of March 21, 2013. ‘Is all well with the House of NANS?’, student leaders who are supposed to be groomed for everything noble are already in the same track with our ‘’leaders’’. The current NANS headed by Com. Gbadebo Yinka (Ayefele) has now become notorious for spurious, unguarded and ill-thought statements which has not only made the body a toothless dog but has made it lose relevance in Government circles unlike in the 80’s and 90’s when the ‘cough’ of NANS sent shivers down the spine of government.

Following the wake of the crisis at Nassarawa state University, Keffi (NSUK), Gbadebo issued a statement in which he ‘directed’ Nigerian Students to begin a series of civil disobedience against Gov Tanko Al- Makura until the killers of the NSUK 4 are brought to book.he further added ’’ In the meantime, we hereby declare the suspension of every co-operation with the government of Nigeria and declare Emperor Tanko Al-Makura persona non-grata at all public functions until those culpable are brought to book’’. Was it the Governor who ordered soldiers to shoot the Students?, Was it not reported that the Deputy Governor of the state gave the NANS leaders who went to Nassarawa 10 million to whittle down their threat or what has become of the Investigations which NANS said it will launch to determine the remote and immediate cause of the crises?

On the 8th of June, 2013, Gbadebo issued a statement in which he called on the Oyo State government to address some issues or risk massive protests that may shut down the state. Some of the issued raised includes Compensation of business owners whose legal business were destroyed without compensation in the State Governments Urban Renewal project, promulgation of transport scheme to meet the need of the people of Oyo State, conducting elections into the various SUG in the State owned tertiary institutions. It has been said that NANS is notorious for such statements when they need money from such states. Ever since the 14 days ultimatum elapsed, those issues have not been addressed and NANS has refused to carry out its threat or has it collected its ‘dues’ from the Ajimobi led Government?

When the Senate President of NANS, Com Donald Ukaogwu lost his life alongside some other comrades while going to intervene in the crises at UNIUYO, Gbadebo hurriedly issued a statement directing that Nigerian Campuses be shut down to protest against the death of the Comrades based on the earlier report that they were killed by Policemen. Why such hurried and reckless statement that only ends up ridiculing the Student body as reports later ascertained that they were actually involved in an accident?

I also remember the statement credited to Gbadebo in which he said NANS were not consulted by ASUU before embarking on their nationwide strike and thus Lecturers should return to classes or their offices nationwide would be picketed. NANS!.
And just when we thought NANS was repositioning itself, out of the blues came yet another blunder when NANS JCC Ekiti axis threatened to shut down private universities to force the FG to implement the 2009 ASUU/FGN agreement.!. This is not only ridiculous but has brought the Nigerian students to disrepute.

The current NANS leadership is fast becoming fond of issuing dud, reckless and ineffective statements which lacks potency and is even rejected by the Nigerian Students the body claims to protect and thus he needs to check it.
I was having a heated debate with an ASUU official of the Premier University(UI)recently about ASUU not reciprocating students support for their struggles. I asked him why ASUU did not consult Nigerian Students before going on strike. His answer blew me off my feet. ''Who are those that we will consult,?.Is it your current leadership in which most of them are not students that we will discuss with?. We can only discuss with those who are aware of what is going on in the Universities not outsiders who are parading themselves as Student Leaders.'' His response was as if a sharp sword has pierced my heart. My heart bled and i wondered ''so these people know what is going on''.

There is a need for NANS to review its current status and make themselves relevant in the Nigerian polity just like ASUU, NASU, NUT amongst others. NANS should ensure that its elections henceforth are not riddled with unnecessary controversies. NANS should do an in-house cleansing and reposition itself for glory. It should desist from being a tool in the hands of desperate politicians who do not mean well for Us. The President, Com. Yinka Gbadebo should refrain from statements which end up in the trash bin of history.

 Statements coming out from the mouth of the students apex body must henceforth be thoroughly thought out before such statements are made. Enough of empty statements which cannot lift paper. I repeat, enough of statements which only make us laughing stocks in the society.
NANS must return to its pride of place as the loud voice of Nigerian Students.

(This piece is meant to call our consciousness to the points raised with a view to seeing the necessary corrections as highlighted. We love NANS and that is why we are chastising it so it can serve its original mandate. God bless Nigerian Students.)
Please pardon me for taking some of your time in the course of reading this lengthy piece.

In Aluta we wine and dine.
Long Live Nigerian Students
Long Live NANS.
Long Live Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Solanke Abiola is an undergraduate of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta.

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