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Students Unionism; What are its main objectives

Written by Arakunrin Ogundele Oluwaseyi Samuel pka DURACELL

Mwai Kibaku, once ascertained that, “Leadership is a privilege to better the lives of others. It is not an opportunity to satisfy personal greed”.

No doubt, what Nigerian politics will bring forth strongly depends on the quality of students presently conceived and will par adventure be produced, therefore the quality of students Unionism in our institutions will serve as a litmus test to the quality of tomorrow’s political leaders, hence direction of Student Unionism is of paramount importance to the future of Nigeria.

The inner man of me keeps on shedding tears anytime I realize how Students union leaders voluntarily turn a deaf ear to the yearnings of Nigerian Students. At some certain stage, I have to take a rethink that is Leadership about a title or a designation?

I would therefore use this platform to call the attentions of all leaders of our students unions to the difficulties Nigerian students are encountering because failure to appropriately utilise this period, no doubt will lead to catastrophic consequences.

Let me start by quoting (ISAH, 1991), who defined ‘Student union as association of students in a particular place of education with stipulated rules/regulations to guide the operations of the association, purposely and primarily to protect and defend not only their interests but also the entire society’.

There are many students unions all span through the country ranging from the umbrella body, NANS to SUG, the apex students association in schools.
Although there have been changes to higher education sector recently, but the roles of students’ union has remained undetected.

Consequently, a responsible Students union leadership is expected to:

  • Represent the interests of all its membership at local, regional and international levels
  • Be accountable to its membership
  • Promote constructive relations between students and the wider community (management)
  • Operate efficient, high quality services and activities.

Pitifully and unfortunately, all these are not exhibited by the leadership of our students union government any longer. Nigerian students now experience underserve tortures- spending extra years in school as a result of unfavorable strikes. This is as a result of the decadence in the education sector and handfolding nature of various students union government leaders.

These and many more forced me to conclude that are ‘Students Union Government Leaders Freedom Fighters or Pocket Fighters’?

Before I proceed I would like to emphatically state it that this article is not meant to witch-hunt but to openly indicates how obsessed I am. Also, I know this post will attracts criticisms, notwithstanding, I would still exercise the right bestowed on me by Nigeria constitution(freedom of speech).

Question to all, are Nigerian students destined to be maltreated? That will be an issue to tackle another day. Presently, Nigerian students are facing undeserved oppression from the so called oppressors. We are being exposed to adverse effects of insufficient accommodation, even though the ones available are without toilets, which are dangerous to human immune system. Students are left unattended to by health workers, students are allowed to risk their precious lives to travel to and fro to campus by seeking assistance from unknown men due to insufficient means of transportation and high cost of transportation. And upon all these, Students union leaders feel less concern about the welfarism of Nigeria students. Why do we deserves this kind of treatment.?

Moreover, students unionism as far as students movement is concerned was borne as a result of oppression from government via school managements. These days, Unionism has now become household for hooligans. At first, cultism was a negative reaction to unionism, which according to my knowledge cultism is anti-unionism, but presently it has become a norm. Some institutions so called unions parade irresponsible and egocentric personalities as its leaders. Can a good thing comes out from a bad abode anyways?

Unionism was created to be the voice of the students. They are expected to serve as the middlemen between the school authorities and the students and give constructive criticisms as regards the rules and regulations constantly formulated in school. Reverse is the case nowadays. Students union leaders are constantly sidelined. They are always made to be a ‘Yes Sir’ leaders/types. Emphasis been made, yes, not every situation do leaders have to interfere, but in a situation whereby students are not allowed to put on face cap without satisfactory reasons to backup the decision and more. Most annoyingly, in the course of formulating these policies, the managements failed to put into consideration that students in question are old enough to live their lives without external interference. Despite all these agonies students are going through, those elected to represent us are more or less dormant.

Truth be told, each students union government has its peculiar strengths and weaknesses. Infact, no doubt some of our leaders are a typical exemplary of Gani Fawehinmi. But to whom much is given, much is expected. A students union that can not successfully persuade management to an agreement, is that a students union government? A students union government that will be relieve if its activities, whenever it voices out, is that a students union government?

Although, I might not be in the right position to advice, but I would still speak. All students union leaders should maintain solidarity with their students at all times without compromise and pursue their course with wisdom. Probably, if students union government can device a more approachable and result-oriented strategies to pass our message across, school’s managements could be more willing to listen to them.

Whether you like this thought or not, the fact still remains “Students Unionism in Nigeria needs Rebranding”