The issue of funding of the activities of student union in Nigeria is a very controversial one, in the sense that people, especially the authorities and managements of tertiary institutions always try to find a way of stifling the student unions by denying them access to fund. The funding of student union is already provided for by the Constitution of the student union, which provides that every student should pay a certain amount of money as student union due for each academic session. It is this payment that qualifies a student as a member of the student union. Again, the student union is meant to be financially autonomous, hence the monies collected from students’ dues are kept in a bank account operated by the student union government with the President, Treasurer and Financial Secretary as signatories to the account in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of the student union dealing with the finances of the union.Unfortunately, however, these days, the management of tertiary institutions, in the guise of helping student union to collect the dues together with the school fees to ensure that every student pays his or her dues, go ahead to maintain a hold on the monies collected as student union dues only to release to the union upon demand in line with approved programmes of the student union, which is usually subjected to stringent approval process even up to the table of the Provost, Rector or Vice-Chancellor as the case may be. For me, this is not acceptable. If there is synergy between the student union and the management, which is actually encouraged for the smooth running of the institution, the management could help collect the student union dues from the students together with other fees to ensure compliance, but on the condition that after the payment of fees, the total money collected as student union dues should be transferred to the student union account maintained by the union to which the President, Treasurer and Financial Secretary are signatories, as provided for by the Constitution of the student union.At the level of the National association of Nigerian Students (NANS), funding of the activities and programmes of the NANS should not be an issue, but we have always been faced with situations where the NANS goes cap-in-hand begging for funds from the government to prosecute her programmes, especially her annual national Convention, and that is why the government always try to determine who emerges as Leaders of the organization, because he who pays the piper, dictates the tune. This is also not acceptable. The Constitution and Charter of Demands of the NANS, as amended, has provided for the funding of the NANS via Capitation fees from affiliate student unions. This capitation fee is supposed to be a percentage of the student union dues paid by every student who is a member of the student union of that particular tertiary institution. The money is to be split into three various components and paid to the Joint Campus Council of the state, the Zonal leadership of the zone and then a major chunk to the National purse. If this is properly implemented, NANS will have so much money that the organization will never look the way of the government for funding, but again this will come with the demand for financial probity and fiscal responsibility from the leadership of NANS at various levels.In all of these, we find out that it is the irresponsibility of certain leaders of the student union that create room for the management to usurp the financial autonomy of the student union, if not how can we explain the situation where a President of student union connives with one of the two of Treasurer and Financial Secretary under any guise, to issue and sign cheques for withdrawal of money from the student union account running into millions without the approval of the legislature or an already approved expenditure schedule by way of annual budget. If that is not financial rascality and abuse of office, I wonder what is. I had at one time presided over a meeting that lasted Nine hours (from 8pm to 5am) to resolve the crisis in the students union of my alma mater and I was shocked to see the statement of account where funds running into several millions were withdrawn by cheques in the name of the President, and I recalled telling them at that meeting that, throughout my time as President, I never collected any cheque in my name, in fact release of Constitutionally-approved imprest was usually done by a single cheque withdrawal by the Treasurer, who then releases the imprest for all the Union Executives. Financial probity is a prerequisite to good leadership at all levels. Say No to Financial rascality in the students union fold.
Aluta Continua! Victoria Ascerta!!
Comrade Igwe Patrick Afubera writes from Abuja. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org