State of The Union: The Plight, The Purpose & The Panacea
By Obeten Emmanuel
In his famous letter to Bishop Mandel Creighton in 1887, the great historian and Moralist, Lord Acton, opined that “Power corrupts, absolute Power corrupts absolutely. In the same vein, a popular aphorism credited to Mahatma Gandhi, opined that “All men can withstand adversity but if you want to test the true character of a man, give him Power”
Unionism both in its political and advocacy connotation revolves around power play, struggle and survival. But for the purpose of this article, I would prefer to look at Unionism from the Students’ advocacy point of view.
A Students’ Union or Campus unionism refers to an umbrella association of Students in a tertiary institution of learning which protects and defends the rights of students on campus. It creates a forum for effective interaction amongst students and a horizontal communicative relationship between students and school management. Historically, Students’ Unionism began in 1925 with the formation of West African Students’ Union (WASU), pioneered by some West African students, predominantly Nigerians, in London, with Comrade Ladipo Solanke as its pioneer President. In 1948, there were moves to establish Students’ union in the University College of Ibadan, this move gave birth to the formation of a joint platform of Nigerian students, under the auspices of National union of Nigerian students (NUNS) in 1956, with Comrade Emmanuel Obe as its pioneer National President.
One of the driving forces that gave birth to Students’ Unionism was the dehumanizing plight and sufferings of Nigerian students in higher institutions. The right and privileges of an average Nigerian student has been, in one time or the other, abused by both School management and other Authorities both governmental and nongovernmental. During the colonial era, Students’ unionism was pivotal in the propagation of Nationalistic tendencies amongst African students. The Union advocated for independence amongst other things.
Presently, the aim and objective of Students’ Unionism has been brutally bastardized by Union Leaders in concerted effort with school managements, Federal Government apparatuses and other regulatory and supervisory bodies.
Today, the Union parades leaders that are narcissistically megalomaniac. Leaders whose sole interest is in self aggrandizement even at the detriment of the Students’ interest they are suppose to protect.
One of the greatest plight facing every Nigerian student is the issue of marginalization and total disregard by the management of our tertiary institutions. It has become a norm for institutions to unilaterally increase tuition fee, acceptance fee, Accommodation fee etc, without recourse to the interest of Nigerian students, in most cases, the Students are not consulted before such decisions are taken.
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
One of the introspective questions every progressive unionist must ask is, how did we get to where we are in Union today? Undoubtedly, Campus unionism is in its nadir but not without the express contributions of students.
Today, Students prefer to elect notorious cultists that may not be goal-orientated as their Leaders, and by so doing, inadvertently hand over the running of the Union to men of the underworld with questionable characters.
Today in Union, Students prefer a leader that can buy their next meal to gain their vote and support. And as the law of nature would have it, these leaders after spending humongous fortunes to clinch power, tends to be more self centered and playing into the whims and caprices of the School Management in other to recover the monies spent on Campaign.
Today in Union, we elect Union Leaders that lack the boldness and courage to Objectively challenge any wrongdoing on the part of the management. Today, we are comfortable electing stooges and puppets.
Today in Union, our independence has been abused with constant interference by School management and external bodies. Looking at the environment, Campus unionism rarely exist and where they do exist, they exist as a “pseudo or Vegetative” existence. How else can one explain the fact that officials that ought to be vanguards of Nigerian students in achieving the true essence of Unionism, are actually colluding actively with authorities in order to deny Nigerian students their rights and privileges. It has become quite unbecoming, to the poring that many students spend close to 5years in school without knowing the names of their Union Leaders.
I want to humbly recommend the following, that,
Union Leaders should cultivate the true spirit of commitment and solidarity to the overall wellbeing and interest of Nigerian students.
Union Leaders should have a clearcut Vision, Idea and purpose before running for any elective position.
Any defaulting Students’ Leader should be penalized accordingly.
Students’ Union Government should be allowed to enjoy autonomy with minimal intervention or supervision from authorities.
Electorates MUST choose their Leaders based on credibility, capacity and commitment. etc.
HRH CHIEF OBETEN EMMANUEL Was one time;
President, National Association of Yakurr Local Government Area Students Worldwide (NAYS-WW) President.
Leader of Central Local Government Area Presidents at the level of National Association of Cross River State Students Worldwide Council of Presidents.
President/Chief, Central Senatorial Students Assembly of Cross River State Worldwide (CENSA-WW).
And Currently, SA Students Affairs to Distinguished, Senator Sandy Ojang Onor.
Senator Representing Central Senatorial District of Cross River State.
HRH CHIEF OBETEN EMMANUEL
- Access Bank Plc Recruitment for Dutch Desk Manager
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- Financial Officer (NYSC) at Kadick Integrated Limited
- Production Supervisor in a Leading Paint and Coating Manufacturing Company
- Administrative Manager at CapitalSage Technology Limited
- Administrative Officer at HRbreakoutRoom