“The blind leading the blind is not so
upsetting, more jarring is the blind
leading the sighted.”
The academic staff union of
universities (ASUU) have been on
strike for the past ninety days;
according to the ASUU chairman- Dr.
Issa Fagge, the strike action became
imperative because the federal
government had failed to honour the
agreement it made with the union in
2009.
As it has always been whenever ASUU
strikes, the university students are
always at the receiving end of it as
we are left with no other option than
to sit idle at our homes recounting our
losses especially the inevitable
extension of our academic years in
school.
Though no student in his or her right
senses would want to extend his or her
stay in school by even a day, the
situation of things that prompted the
strike embarked upon by ASUU ought
to make us have a rethink and to
ponder for a moment on whether we-
as students would rather agree to
support ASUU in this cause on their
position that education has to be
adequately funded or succumb to the
extra year pressure in clamoring for
an end to the strike.
Among the stakeholders that have
been vocal on the current imbroglio is
the National Association of Nigerian
Students (NANS) headed by the
National president- Yinka Gbadebo.
Gbadebo while speaking in Lagos
recently, said that NANS was no
longer in support of the strike as it
has no moral obligation to do so
urging ASUU to drag the federal
government to court.
The National Association of Nigerian
students is the umbrella body of
students studying in all tertiary
institutions in the country. Thus by
implication, every student studying in
a university, polytechnic or college
becomes an automatic member of the
body.
Before embarking on this journey, it
would only be fair to give a concise
definition of an association in order to
ascertain whether NANS fits in.
The Oxford advanced learner’s
dictionary (International student’s
edition) defines an association as “an
official group of people who have
joined together for a particular
purpose; a connection or relationship
between people or organization”;
Encarta dictionary defines it as
“coming together and social
interaction between people”.
As it is expected of an organization,
we believe that any statement from
the leadership of NANS ought to be
the position of the generality of
Nigerian students across universities;
polytechnics and colleges respectively
but a closer look at the antecedents,
actions and statements from the
leadership of NANS should make every
Nigerian student wary of this body.
A colleague confided in me that quite
a handful number among the
leadership of NANS are either drop
outs or graduates; he further
revealed that the smart ones amongst
them enroll for a part time, diploma
or graduate course in an institution
before obtaining a form of contest in
order to be recognized as a student.
Clearly, ASUU and NANS are
independent bodies; as Gbadebo
pointed out, NANS has no moral
obligation whatsoever to partake in its
fights and struggles but as logical as
the statement may sound, the
leadership of NANS fell into a deep
fallacy by asking ASUU to accept the
paltry sum of 130 billion to be shared
by over 60 universities.
As I wrote earlier in a piece titled “On
ASUU strike: unlike a nation’s pride”,
the 2009 agreement consists of quite
a number of things but there are few
ones that ought not to be the fight of
ASUU but that of NANS, especially
the funding of education. Not a single
one among undergraduates will
support ASUU if it had embarked on
this strike because of the increase in
the retirement age of professors or
the handing over of landed properties
to federal universities.
No Nigerian student whom NANS claim
to represent and speak on its behalf
would line up and sing songs of praise
in support of ASUU if its reason for
leaving the classroom was for an
increment in pay and not the call for
a better education for the Nigerian
people.
If NANS had been an association that
truly seeks to protect the welfare of
the over 60 million Nigerian students,
it would have occurred to its
leadership that the clamour by ASUU
on the funding of education ought not
to be ASUU’s fight but theirs; or who
stands to benefit from a world class
classroom, a standard laboratory, a 24
hour electricity supply to the hostels,
a reduced teacher – student ratio?
The lecturers or the students?
How would NANS claim to represent 60
million Nigerian students when it
neither owns a website nor a blog?
What authority do NANS and its card
carrying executives have when they
have not a single presence on the
social media? I searched for
‘www.nans.edu.ng, http://www.nans.org ,
http://www.nans.com and several other
combinations but all i got was “website
not available”.
A Facebook search of NANS only
shows a page with a total like of
“4654” as at 14th of September 2013;
a scroll to the bottom of the page had
a poorly constructed statement that
goes thus:
“I am comrade Adeoye Adelaja,
former Ass sec Gen in Federal poly
Bida 2004/2005 set, i searched on
facebook and i did Ŋ¤τ̲̅ see NANS, i
decided τ̲̅ȍ create the page!!! in
solidarity and for the sake of passing
information τ̲̅ȍ all concern across all
students bodies, i donate this page τ̲̅ȍ
NANS, all the current Excos who which
τ̲̅ȍ Manage this Page should do ♍ƺ an
Email dibigslim@yahoo.com for ♍ƺ
τ̲̅ȍ admin dem”.
How on earth is NANS representing
students in Nigeria if it cannot boast
of a Twitter account in the 21st
century? How can Gbadebo and his
colleagues be speaking on my behalf
and on the behalf of all
undergraduates if it does not have a
single notice board in the University
of Lagos, the University of Ibadan,
the University of Calabar, Ahmadu
Bello university- Zaria, Federal
university of technology- Akure, Yaba
college of technology, Adeniran
Ogunsanya college of education, and
all the other tertiary institutions
across Nigeria?
The benefits of the social media as a
powerful tool was most evident during
the January 2012 subsidy protests
where the Nigerian people were
mobilised via the online media; NANS
absence on the online media would not
have bothered me if other associations
such as the market women, national
union of road transport workers,
national union of local government
employees, carpentry associations
etcetera were not online.
Is it not a farce that a few
individuals have been parading
themselves as the saviours of Nigerian
students when they see nothing wrong
in the standard of education in
Nigeria? If Gbadebo was a Nigerian
student, will he claim not to be aware
that a four man room in an average
Nigerian university now occupies at
least twenty students?
How can NANS be a body that is
concerned about the welfare of the
Nigerian students when our laboratory
taps are dried or is the ailing
standard of education not part of its
mandate?
What justification does NANS have to
clandestinely take sides with the
federal government (please convince
us otherwise) when it is glaring that
this country has the resources to
fund education even beyond the 26%
recommended by UNESCO; this is a
country that feeds a president with 1
billion naira per annum and changes
the spoons and forks in the first
lady’s kitchen with 45million naira for
the same period.
How does NANS claim to speak for
Nigerian students when it has always
taken sides with the government in
power? Speaking at the 11th annual
campus life workshop, the Lagos
lawyer- Mr Femi Falana stated his
displeasure over the lack of sincerity
on the part of NANS as the
association could not present itself as
a witness in the court to fight the fee
hike in the Lagos state university; yet,
they claim to protect the interest of
the Nigerian student.
How does NANS expect Nigerian
students to buy the idea that the
country’s economy will collapse if
education gets adequate funding when
there is profligacy everywhere? The
politicians ride in exotic cars of the
latest model whereas our professors
drive about in a jeep of less than
N800, 000 that was manufactured
probably in the 70’s; former president
Olusegun Obasanjo owns a university,
Atiku Abubakar owns one, David mark
earns over N600 million a year, Dimeji
Bankole stole his own, Patricia Etteh
stole, James Ibori laundered, Tafa
Balogun stole, Bode George carted,
Sanni Abacha’s loot is still hanging,
General Theophilius Danjuma sold an
oil block and after paying all
obligations, he asked Nigerians to
advise him on what to do with it
because the proceeds were too much;
is NANS still buying the lies of
Labaran Maku and Dr. Okonjo Iweala
that the economy will collapse; that
there is no money in Nigeria to
educate its masses?
The 20th century physicist- Albert
Einstein wrote that “Education is not
the learning of facts but the training
of the mind to think”- so as an
individual that have received little
education, I’ve been engaging myself
in some serious thoughts on whether it
was possible for the federal
government to declare bankruptcy if
it decides to cough out a paltry N1.2
trillion spread over three years on the
education sector when each senator
and member of the house of
representatives earn at least $1.7m
and $1.2m respectively amounting to
over N3 trillion per annum in a country
where 10 million children are out of
school.
What calibre of student occupies the
executive position of the association?
Which school do they attend? What
level are they? What’s their course of
study? What are the criteria for
becoming a member or an executive of
NANS? What are the short and long
term objectives of NANS? Who were
the Nigerian students that agreed
that the governor of Ondo state-
Olusegun Mimiko was the best
governor of the Nigerian students?
What were the criteria involved? How
was the conclusion reached? Was it
through a vote? If yes, who voted?
Where did the voting take place? Was
it online or offline?
How does NANS organize students for
mobilization and protests if it neither
has a website nor a Facebook account
or does it go about it via phone calls
or text messages to all 60 million
Nigerian students? As a student body,
who acts as NANS staff adviser(s)?
Politicians or Lecturers? How does
NANS get its funding? How are the
funds utilized? Who does NANS report
to? Has there been any case of
financial misappropriation among its
members? If yes, who? When? And
what actions were taken against the
person(s) involved? These are begging
questions that needs sincere answers
from the leadership of the
association.
If the questions above have answers,
where are they and why are they so
elusive not to be within the reach of
the Nigerian students?
If Nigerian students pressure ASUU to
call off the strike, I would not want
us to forget that since the
establishment of ASUU in 1978, it had
embarked on strikes in 1988, 1992,
1994, 1996, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2013
over similar issues as the present one
which makes it evident that if this
problem is not solved once and for all
knowing fully well that the country
has the resources to heed to its
demand, our children will probably be
in our present predicament in a matter
of years.
This is a clarion call to fellow students
in all tertiary institutions across the
country to demand for a body that
will serve to protect our interests,
speak on our behalf and sincerely
represent us in order to help build an
education for all society.
Until then, our heads are soaked,
please NANS, stop the urine.

Modiu Olaguro finds ‘X’ at The
University of Lagos.
Email:dprophetpride@gmail.com