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Thursday, 3 November 2016

Crisis Rocks NANS over Jimoh Ibrahim’s Award

CRISIS has hit the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) over an award presented to Mr Jimoh Ibrahim, the People, Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the November 26 Ondo State govxxernoship election. Some students believe that he bought the “Leadership Award” in order to get the association’s support in the election.

But, NANS Senate President Salam Oyejide, who presented the award to Ibrahim, is keeping mum on inducement allegation.
When CAMPUSLIFE spoke to him on telephone, Salam said he had nothing to say on the allegation. He added: “The award was presented to Mr Ibrahim because of various student-related programmes he has done and his support for education.”
Salam’s explanation did not go down well with his colleagues, who criticised the NANS leadership for using the platform to feather its nest. They wondered why NANS always gives what they called “frivolous awards” to politicians during elections. The leadership’s latest action, they said, would further weaken NANS’ capability as a pressure group.
NANS came under criticism during the 2015 elections for the series of awards presented to some politicians. After the  elections, NANS leaders drew the flaks when they presented an award to Senator Buruji Kashamu.
Ibrahim’s representative was said to have received the award in the Postgraduate Complex the businessman donated to Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) in Ile-Ife, Osun State, in 2011.
It was the issue of discussion when CAMPUSLIFE visited OAU. Students are asking the association’s leadership to stop hiding behind the NANS facade to scoop money from politicians.
They said the association’s activities are against the tradition of students’ unionism.
According to Moshood Olajide, former Public Relations Officer (PRO) of OAU Students’ Union Security Committee, the NANS’ action is a rape on students’ unionism, adding: “The action of the NANS Senate President is an affront to our collective struggle as students and a rape on the tradition bequeathed to us by the founding leaders. NANS’ awards should go to radicals, not politicians who are oppressing the students. This action has shown that, NANS Senate President was insincere in his manifesto in which he promised to bring back the association’s glory.”
Moshood pointed out that students expected a body that would lead an agitation for reduction of fees and campaign for good governance. He said students should not see the present crop of NANS leaders as those that would take the association out of the woods.
“The kind of leadership students expected is not seen in the current crop of leaders. NANS is supposed to be part of the pressure groups  that will strengthen our democracy by fighting income disparity and anti-masses policies. Students are tired of NANS leaders giving frivolous awards to politicians in exchange for money.We are tied of hungry leaders hosting meetings with vice-chancellors to sabotage students’ interests,” he said.
An education student, who identified himself as Comrade Joe, described the award as an insult to students.
He said: “I will not be a party to mediocrity and travesty of students’ unionism. I don’t know why somebody would wake up today to give award for something done five years ago. Besides, the Prof Bamitale Omole-led management had honoured Ibrahim for donating the Postgraduate complex. Also, the Faculty of Law presented an award to him for the same reason.
“Is it that NANS is just waking up after five years? The award is an insult to the collective sensibility of students. NANS leaders need to tell us how much they were paid to create such frivolous award to boost the ego of a moneybag. They are selfish and driven by personal interest, rather than common good.”
Wole Olubanji, an OAU alumnus and the convener of Alliance of Nigerian Students Against Neo-Liberal Attack (ANSA), described the award as ridiculous and self-serving. He said though NANS could honour anyone for achievements, such award, he said, must be subjected to popular vote among students.
He said: “OAU Students’ Union leaders, led by the Speaker, Niyi Adewumi, in 1986 honoured the late Gani Fawehinmi with the Senior Advocate of the Masses (SAM). This was a general decision subjected to democratic process. It was a unanimous decision supported by all students.
“Such award was not controversial, because it was a product of intense debate on the character of the recipient. And whether such award was necessary, reverse is the case in that of Ibrahim. It was a decision of a few students, who are looking for the politician’s money.”

It was gathered that members of the NANS Senate have not convened any sitting since they were elected months ago. This fueled the insinuation that the NANS Senate President may have acted alone in giving the award to Ibrahim.
Gafar Fatoyinbo, an Education student, criticised the NANS leadership for what he called its insensitivity, noting that there were many events calling for NANS’ attention.
He said: “Weeks ago, the management of Kwara State Polytechnic expelled SUG Welfare Director for challenging the school authorities on students’ welfare. Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) has been closed down for over four months, while over 23 students were suspended by the University of Lagos (UNILAG). There have not been serious  efforts by NANS to address these issues. We have an association that is effective in turning itself to an appendage of politicians, rather than being being a platform for students to fight oppression.”
Lekan Igbasan, a 200-Level Philosophy student, said the award stood logic on the head, observing that the recipient’s democratic credential was questionable. He cited Ibrahim’s decision to contest for governor under a factionalised party, adding that the PDP candidate’s antecedent as a bad manager   showed that he would be dictatorial and anti-masses.
He said: “All these actions are against the ideals of unionism. Such a person (Ibrahim) should not be honoured by any student. NANS should stop giving politicians awards and concentrate on addressing the plight of students.”
CAMPUSLIFE gathered that some members of NANS executive present during the ceremony left immediately the  award was conferred on the politician to avoid any untoward situation.

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