Painful as the task before me is to describe the dark side of our affairs; it sometimes becomes a matter of indispensable necessity. Anyone who stops learning is old. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young. Keeping our mind young is by making it vibrant especially towards issues that concern our existence as a whole. Though, I get worried about issues that concern my immediate constituency – which is the Youth Constituency. I owe an obligation in doing things for the betterment of that constituency. Like I do know that some people see the glass half full. Others see it half empty. I see a glass that’s twice as big as it needs to be. This time, my worry is about NANS. I am off the view that the NANS of today has lost its ethical values and culture.
What seems to be a platform to speak for the entire humanity of Nigerian students is now an epitome of political endorsements, award creators, violence and complete misplacement of real gut and virtues. Permit me to say that without ethical culture, there is no salvation for humanity. Some generosity is extraordinary; so also some talents are undeniable. We need an opportunity to explain our situation. This is my own opportunity again though when I did some years back about NANS in a publication titled,Student Union Officers Interference in Societal Politics: Whether wrong or right (published by the Nation on the 8th of September, 2011 at page 34 – 36). I got several threats from lot of NANS quarters. Be that as it maybe, nothing in the entire world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity which is the basis of today’s NANS. Chioma Nwobi corroborated my assertion when the fellow wrote in Punch Newspaper on the 10th September, 2014 at page 25 that, ‘honestly, my anger is more with the Nigerian Media which continues to highlight organizations such as NANS in the papers as if they mean anything and as if any value to any serious group of people. NANS has been a useless organization…’’. Though, some still argue that NANS is still an element of patriotism and students brotherhood. Interestingly, they never deny the fact that as at today, it is nothing but a dead platform for student struggles in Nigeria.
The propitious smiles of heaven can never be expected on a body or organization that disregards the eternal rules of order and right. Today’s NANS in its entirety has defiled the real concept of student unionism. In the past, NANS leaders were envied and respected. But the story has assumed a disturbing dimension as the so-called youths behind this body, have turn to corporate office-beggars that flex muscle on money from politicians rather than advocating for the entitlements of the crop of Nigerians they represent. They beg for cheap favours and go around making factions all in the bid of making money. The bitter truth about these factions is that they all stand for the same thing – which is money making. This is a ‘betrayal’ to the essence of factions in a group. Factions are meant to correct the wrong of other persons or group. One would now see the main reason why the NANS of today, can never get it right. NANS constitutes national embarrassment and monstrosity. It contributes in no small measure to our nation’s battered and scruffy image. Indeed, it’s only few men that have enough virtue to withstand the highest bidder.
Right now, the body do not have enough ethics or enviable morality. No single iota of respect for the NANS constitution or respect for past heroes of NANS. No sincere decorum and focus at all. The body is the perfect synonym to misplacement of priority. A body like NANS should be seen advocating for the proper existence of Nigeria students. Make a tour of Institutions in Nigeria, your sight would be left with crumbling infrastructure and inadequate equipment which makes a case for the signs of decay campuses. NANS should be the proper platform to advocate for better policies on education in Nigeria. At a time, certificates from Nigerian institutions were courted like beautiful brides. Today the story is that of a nation whose universities are unable to make the best 5,000 in the world or even the best 50 on the African continent where incidentally, it claims to be the giant of Africa. What are the policies put in place by NANS to ensure the government perform her responsibility in making education in Nigeria enviable? All the leaders think of is how to mandate all students to vote for Mr. President again. All the visible act they perform is to celebrate and promote failure by given awards like Grand commander of Nigerian Students award, Defender of Democracy award, Governor of the year award, Nelson Mandela icon award etc.
It becomes so surprising when as at this hour, one would be wondering what active role did NANS played when Nigerians were clamouring for the missing girls to be brought back alive. Aren’t the missing girls Nigeria students or weren’t they kidnapped in their schools? Even till now, the executive of NANS have not in any way talked about the immigration scam that saw the deaths and injuries effected on the both the graduates and undergraduates of this great country. Are we saying NANS do not have business in that aspect or what? Recently, the new CBN management made a levy of N65 on ATM charges which in all way will affect the students’ alot. Most students have been complaining about it but there is no one to relate their grievances to those in authority. The only body that can do that is NANS and the question is where are the elected NANS executive? Aso rock I guess, they are planning for the bringing back of Mr. President in 2015. No pecuniary consideration is more urgent to NANS, than the regular misplacement of priority and love of money like their role models. Survival is not about certain death, it’s about keeping your head down. You are not to be so blind with patriotism that you cannot face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it. Abimbola Adelakun of the Punch Newspaper puts it right when she opined on page 59 of 4thSeptember, 2014 that, ‘NANS obviously is a band of opportunists looking for what to eat and for whom no perfidy, no level of ignominy, would be too low to wallow so long as it guarantees supply of ‘stomach infrastructure. Their desperation to be included in the routine sharing of the national cake perhaps explains why you never see these professional students ever associated with anything academic’’. To even worsen the situation the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, spoke to the Punch on the 14th September, 2014 at page 8 that, many of these characters are found in Abuja. They don’t go anywhere; they just sit there. They see governance as political activities and endorsements to collect monies from politicians and as a day-to-day routine business. We were part of the so called NANS, in the past. But today, many people will agree that it is neither here or there… All is not well as regard the view of an average reasonable Nigerian towards NANS. It shows the body is decaying so fast. I pray the present crops of leaders in NANS do not make it crumble completely.
At a point in time, news had it that Nigerian students were equally represented in the just National Confab and I doubt if any reasonable impact was made by the NANS officials that represented the student. The major thing we hear about the Confab is all about Constitution amendment, State creation etc. No major thing was heard on education advancement and the future that behoves the Nigeria students. Have you come to think of it? When the Super Eagles loses a match in a tournament, the National Assembly is always quick to set up an ad-hoc committee to critically examine such failures in a bid to avoiding further disappointment. Why can’t members of NANS flex their muscle ‘of money’ to lobby the members of the National Assembly to set up a committee to check the rising unemployment, education advancement, university restructuring and untold hardship that seems to be pulling the nation apart? What is the hope of a Nigerian student with a body like the NANS of today? We would continue to ask these questions until our tears travel long and sink somewhere beneath the sea-shores. To stand well in the estimation of one’s country is a happiness that no rational creature can be insensible of. I leave you with a mind full of hope. If it is to be, it is up to us.
(WHYTE HABEEB IBIDAPO is a United Nations Award winner, Africa International Arbitration Award winner and Coca cola/ The Nation Campuslife Award Winner.