ALUTA GOSPEL ACCORDING TO COMRADE PATRICK AFUBERA: Factions in the Nigerian Student Union Movement

The history of factions in NANS can be traced back to the unprecedented victory of Comrade Dennis Etim Inyang in 1994 at the OAU Ife NANS Convention that was chaired by the charismatic Adeola “Baba Show” Soetan. That convention was a turning point in the history of the organization because up to that moment, a single group or tendency, the Progressive Youth Movement of Nigeria (PYMN) had been in charge of the association and produced most of its leadership, including all its Presidents. PYMN was a very powerful and organized group whose tentacles extended deeply in the nation’s radical left, with influential members in the professions (Law, Journalism, and the pro-democracy human rights community, etc).

Dennis Etim Inyang was supported by forces and tendencies opposed to the PYMN, and as such the group rejected him. It was only the Late Inimitable Gani Fawehinmi that lent a helping hand to Dennis Inyang’s NANS Leadership, and at the end of his tenure, Mohammed Baba-Kazallah of UNIMAID emerged at the ABU Zaria Convention in 1995, however, a handful of the PYMN elements went to Ago-Iwoye and claimed to have elected Comfort Idika and Tajudeen Yusuf of UNIJOS as President and Secretary-General respectively. That was the beginning of factions in NANS. During the next election, a similar drama played out, as Oludara Ogunlana and Ropo Ewenla became the Presidents of the factions. The matter became even more interesting, if not for its ridiculousness, when at the next election, the factional Presidents were classmates (Bashir Abdullahi and Musa Ujah of the Faculty of Law, ABU Zaria), and the duo were succeeded by Moses Oisakhede and Ken Henshaw as Presidents of the factions in 1998. After the death of Moses Oisakede on September 1st 1999, his Vice President (National Affairs), Comrade Tijani Kabiru, assumed office as Acting President of NANS until the ATBU Bauchi Unity Convention in February 2000, where all efforts were made to kill factions in NANS, rather after that Convention that saw the emergence of Comrade Philip Shaibu as NANS President, two other persons, Comrade Wole Badmus of UNILORIN and Comrade Tanko Yakassai of UNIMAID, declared factions of parallel NANS leaderships. However, following consistent struggles, the authentic leadership of Comrade Philip Shaibu overran the others and organized a successful Convention at the University of Maiduguri in February 2001 following the abortion of the UNEC Convention in December 2000, and handed over to Comrade Olusegun Olaleye of the University of Ibadan. After a smooth and unchallenged administration of Comrade Segun Olaleye.

NANS witnessed the first most violent convention at the University of PortHarcourt (UNIPORT) in 2002, after which the convention was rescheduled and held in Federal University of Technology, Yola (FUTY) where Comrade Daniel Onjeh emerged as NANS President and enjoyed an unchallenged administration. Factions resurfaced again in the students’ movement after the 2003 NANS convention in which Comrade Tony Nwoye of UNEC emerged as NANS President, but following some unresolved disagreements in the conduct of the election, Comrade Igwe Patrick Afubera of UNIZIK declared a unique factional leadership of the NANS; unique in the sense that both factions shared every other Executive officer except the Secretary-General who were running mates to the respective Presidents. Irrespective of whether the faction was viewed as pronounced or not, it lasted till a unity Convention was held in Abuja, and which unity convention produced Comrade Okuma Kenneth Hembe as NANS President, unfortunately, Okuma did not enjoy an unchallenged administration as Comrade Kanada of the University of Maidugri (UNIMAID) declared his own factional leadership of the NANS. Okuma Hembe’s administration was very successful in many respects, but the highest point of that administration was the 25th Anniversary celebration of the NANS, a programme that was designed and conceptualized by yours sincerely, Comrade Patrick Afubera, and it was during the Award Gala that the NANS President, Comrade Okuma Kenneth Hembe, on behalf of the entire Nigerian students, endorsed Obasanjo’s third term bid.

At the end of Okuma Hembe’s tenure, Stakeholders of NANS in collaboration with the Vice President (National Affairs) of NANS, Comrade Abubakar Musa, who stood and fought alongside some members of the NANS Executives, even at the risk of being impeached, against the Delegate Conference convened by the NANS President and Senate President for the purpose of finalizing the review process of the NANS Constitution that endorsed a two-year term in office for elected NANS officers forcefully convened a gathering of students and before one knows it, NANS Convention took place at the Old Parade ground and produced Comrade Femi Osaibinu of the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) as NANS President. However, Comrade Okuma Hembe, being a highly calculative and focused Leader, activated a Constitutional process that led to what could be described as a properly convened NANS Convention in Benue State University, (BSU) Markurdi and which convention produced Comrade Yinka Dada (Aluta Sadam) of Ekiti State University (EKSU) Ado-Ekiti as NANS President. Interestingly, these two Presidents of the NANS factions from Zone D operated jointly and severally as co-Presidents until they handed over after the 2008 NANS Convention held at the Old Parade Ground where Comrade Bashir Babale emerged as NANS President, and shortly after that, a faction of NANS leadership led by Comrade Bashir Moru also emerged. In 2009, following the end of Comrade Babale’s tenure, the NANS Convention at the Eagle square was described as inconclusive, however, the top contending Presidential Aspirants, Comrade Jude Imagwe of UNIBEN and Comrade Iniobong of UNIUYO engaged in a battle of recognition and supremacy, and it did not take long before Comrade Jude Imagwe, a highly experienced and technical Leader, overran Comrade Iniobong and was recognized as the authentic NANS President, a position that gave him recognition by the President Goodluck Jonnathan Presidency, that at the end of his tenure as NANS President, he was appointed Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on Youths and Students, and a National honour of Member of the Order of the Niger (MON). The next NANS Convention held in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State produced Late Comrade Dauda Mohammed (Kapon) of UNIJOS as NANS President, but again, a faction led by Comrade Adekole Ochai of BSU, Markurdi emerged therefrom. At the 2012 Unity Convention in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom state, Comrade Yinka Gbadebo emerged NANS President and enjoyed wide acceptance and recognition, but there was a faction led by Comrade Prince Miaphen of the University of Jos (UNIJOS), even though it was short-lived. At the 2014 NANS convention in Asaba, Delta state, Comrade Tijani Usman emerged as NANS President and enjoyed an unchallenged tenure, at the end of which an inconclusive or aborted NANS Convention in Gombe was rescheduled to Old Parade Ground, Abuja where Comrade Haruna Kadiri of the University of Benin (UNIBEN) emerged as NANS President. However, a faction led by Comrade Chinonso Obasi (IBB) already emerged from the aborted or inconclusive Gombe Convention, it is instructive to note that the factional leadership of Comrade Chinonso Obasi outshined the authentic leadership of Haruna Kadiri in all ramifications, especially by way of media presence and programmes.

At the end of their tenure, a Unity Convention at the Abuja Old Parade ground produced Comrade Danielson Bamidele Akpan of the Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK) as NANS President. At the end of Comrade Danielson’s tenure, which was unnecessary elongated as a result of the lockdown occasioned by Covid-19 global pandemic, the crisis of transition which saw an impeachment and removal from office of the NANS President and swearing-in of the Vice President (National Affairs), Comrade Chidi Ilogebe of the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), as Acting President, and a resultant inauguration of a second Convention Planning Committee (CPC) in addition to the CPC already inaugurated by President Danielson Bamidele Akpan, a situation that was already heading to a great division in the NANS. Stakeholders and Government agencies, especially the Department of State Security got involved with a view to resolving the issues so as to ensure that only one unity Convention held, an effort that was almost hitting the rocks but for the sacrifice of one man, the first CPC Chairman inaugurated by the incumbent NANS President before the issue of impeachment, yours sincerely, Comrade Igwe Patrick Afubera, who decided to step aside and allow Comrade Abubakar Barde to chair a unified and harmonized CPC to ensure that only one single NANS Convention held, and which convention produced Comrade Sunday Ashefon of Ekiti State University (EKSU) as NANS President. After the administration of Comrade Ashefon, the NANS Convention at the Old Parade Ground produced Comrade Musa Barambu as NANS President, though Comrade Fakky attempted to run a factional leadership, but the quick intervention of stakeholders like Comrade Smart Olalekan, former Senate President of NANS, ensured that the issue was resolved and up till this time, there is no faction in NANS.

It is on the basis of the above that the stakeholders of the NANS Zone F have resolved not to allow the emergence of any faction in the zone, no matter the justification, following the outcome of the Zone F Convention which took place in Imo State University on 16th July and which Zonal Convention produced Comrade Chidi Nzekwe and Comrade Ifeyinwa Felix as Coordinator and Secretary respectively.

Patrick Afubera writes from Abuja.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button
Call Now Button