THE PAINS AND GAINS OF STUDENTS UNION STRUGGLE VOL. 2
As a follow-up to our last discussion on the above topic, we will be discussing the Gains of Student Union activism, and indeed struggle generally. In this paper, emphasis will be on how active participation in student union activism has helped in developing great Leaders for our nation who are currently doing very well in their various fields of endeavor.
The Gains of student union struggle, however, are the benefits and/or proceeds of the struggle to the general students, to the institution, to the community and then, to the individual student leader. The student union struggle does not benefit students and student leaders only, but can actually benefit the institution and the community. Examples of the Gains of the struggle to the students, the community and the institution abound. From my personal experiences, as President of student union, I can point out a few instances where our struggles have benefited the various groups mentioned above.
– When the student union of Nnamdi AzikiweUniversity, under my watch as President in 1999, fought the battle against shylock Landlords of private hostels who are in the business of increasing house rent every session without any improvement on the property, which resulted in the students living for a complete academic session without paying rent, the benefit was to the students.
– When we stood our ground against the planned payment of school fees through Zenith Bank, as directed by the University management, under my watch as President and against my suggestion that the University should provide a temporary cash office to enable the bank station their staff to collect the fees from students and move to their bank since Zenith bank had no branch in Awka at that time (1999), it was the students that benefited because that struggle saved students from the stress of traveling from Awka to Enugu or Onitsha amidst possible risks of armed robbery or motor accident.
– During the reign of Rt. Hon. Dr. Wilberforce Chuba Okadigbo as President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I had an opportunity of meeting him as President of Student Union, and my brief presentation during that casual meeting spurred him into scheduling a visit to our institution, NnamdiAzikiwe University, in October 1999. And this visit to the University attracted a number of projects to the University in the 2000 Appropriation Act of the National Assembly. That was a huge benefit to the institution.
– Construction of the Temporary site road (ObyOkoli Avenue) to Mgbakwu, and the Dike Street to Obunagu Road (where the SUG President’s lodge was situated) by NigerCatConstruction Company courtesy of PTF was a huge benefit to the community. This was made possible through our struggle because when I assumed office in September 1999, I realized that the PTF, before being scrapped, had awarded some road contracts and mobilized the Contractors for the said roads, which included the ones mentioned above. The UNIZIK Aluta squad, led by Comrade Desmond of Civil Engineering department, upon my directive, went to the Quarry of Nigercat in Awka and seized some of their equipment and brought them to the campus. This forced the management to come and discuss with us, during which meeting I made it clear to them that I want the temporary site road (Oby okoli Avenue – Okpuno – Mgbakwu Road) done before October 15th when the students are meant to resume, and also the Dike Street – ObunaguRoad.
The above instances are direct benefits or gains of the student union struggle to the students, the institution and the community. It should be noted that in all of these, I had continually turned down offers of personal gratification that would make me sacrifice the interest of the students, the institution and the community, not because I love to be poor, but rather because I had a clear focus of what I wanted to achieve for the union and for the institution. However, people are hearing and seeing what was happening, and they are all verifiable. It was based on these antecedents and proven track records of capacity that gave me the privilege to meet and work with many of the political leaders in my state, which eventually made me to join politics. Although I am yet make it big in politics by winning the nomination of my party or any general election, but I have had opportunities of being appointed into certain political leadership positions in the past, including serving in the SURE-P Presidential Implementation Committee during Goodluck Jonnathan’s administration and also as Special Assistant to the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the 8th Assembly, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara. These are direct personal gains of the student union struggle for me as a former student leader, and I am working hard presently to build on these feats to actualize my political aspiration, which is anchored on the desire to offer service to the people and make impacts on the lives of our people.
In my book, I enumerated and gave a brief profile of some persons that have risen to various leadership positions after serving as student leaders. Some of them include:
1. H.E. Dr. John Fayemi Kayode – Immediate past Governor of Ekiti State, was a former member of Parliament of the University of Lagos Student Union.
2. Rt. Hon. Comrade Philip Shaibu – Incumbent Deputy Governor of Edo State, was former NANS President, 2000.
3. Hon. Dr. Tony Nwoye – Anambra North Senatorial Candidate of Labour Party and former member of the House of Representatives, was former NANS President, 2003 – 2005.
4. Hon. Heman Hembe – Labour Party Governorship Candidate in Benue State, and two-time House of Reps member, was former NANS Director of Sports and frontline Presidential Aspirant at the Bauchi2000 NANS Unity Convention.
5. Rt. Hon. Luke Onofiok – Member House of Representatives, and former member and Speaker of Akwa-Ibom State House of Assembly, was former SUG President of UNIUYO.
6. Rt. Hon. Comrade Samuel Nwanosike – Presently serving his second term as Council Chairman of Ikwere Local Government Area, was a Student Leader and NANS cadre from RSU.
7. Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere – CUPP Spokesman and PDP Candidate for House of Reps, Ideato Federal Constituency, was a former student Leader at the level of NANS, and former President of the National Youth Council of Nigeria.
And many more others, too numerous to mention, yet the list keeps on growing, hopefully my name will join the list in the near future.
Comrade Igwe Patrick Afubera writes from Abuja.