Student president reflects on accomplishments
LAGOS, Nigeria, Sept. 29 -- Ahmed Agbabiaka is the National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS) Senate President in transition. The graduate of Fisheries and Aquatic Biology of Lagos State University is currently a MBA (Master of Business Administration) student.
His journey into students’ union politics was an interesting and a thought-provoking one filled with a lot of experience.
Starting from the 100 level days, Agba thought it fit to face the challenges headlong not to graduate just like any other student but to go into student’s unionism watch is for activism to correct some anomalies within and outside the campus.
His voyage into the National Association of Nigerian students (NANs) was set off by what he observed at a National Convention in Abuja as at the time he was leaving office as the President of the Students’ union.
“As at the time I was leaving office as the president of LASUSU," he said. "I was in 400 level of a five years course. At the convention in Abuja, I didn’t cease the opportunity seeing the calibre of students contesting, then I pose myself thus: if people are contesting with such background, what stops me from contesting with the kind of experience I gathered being a students’ union president of the most vibrant campus when it comes to activism? That (LASUSU presidency) alone widens my horizon in terms of administration and crises management even more than a local government chairman then I contested and won as the National P.R.O NANs."
He told CAMPUSLIFE that his office as the Senate President of NANs is saddled with the responsibility of juxtaposing National issues affecting students. Where the Senate President coordinates the activities of senators i.e (Students’ Union Presidents) of all University, Polytechnics, Monotechnics and Colleges of Education either state or federal. And the greatest challenge is understanding these people with different ideologies and marrying their ideas to bring about an impact.
"It is a very great challenge calling for senate meetings and thank God for the first time in ten (10) years, we held two senate meetings," he said. One in LASU my constituency and the second at Federal college of Education (technical) Katsina where we passed resolutions on issues affecting the entire Nigerian Students.”
On his struggles and their effect on students, he has this to say: “Our struggles started on the entrenchment of ideas because, an organization or movement to revolutionize a nation like ours without a strong ideology is a mirage. We organized democracy congresses in commemoration of June 12 once as the P.R.O. and twice as the Senate President where intellectuals such as Dr. Abubakar Momoh, Dr. Obayori to mention a few delivered lectures to awaken the interest in our students on issues happening around them because we identify that students are not interest in whatever happens around them."
"Also, we had different rallies in support of NLC (our parents) during the fuel bike," he continued, "the planned privatisation of NNPC and other civil societies. We had rallies on June 12 the real Nigeria’s democracy day; NANs Senate participated in “One man one vote” rally in support of comrade governor Adams Oshiomole to ensure free and fair election. And on the 2011 general elections, we sensitize and conscientize students across different geo-political zones not be used as political thugs. We mobilized for voter’s registration, mobilize and monitored the voting that INEC recognized us. In the course of doing the aforesaid, we organized on campus Senate meeting – a fit rear attained and we ensure that all their programmes are held on campus."
In all these, what do students gained? "All what we have done are directly related to students," he said. "Rather than going on strike and lamenting on government policies like a bull dog that cannot bite but bark, we decide to solve the problem that may bedevil any incoming government by showing them the right path and ensuring democracy, rule of law and good governance. If all our demands were heeded to, I am sure Nigeria students won’t have much problem as at hand."
On the presidential debate planned to be held on campus, he said: “We thought the campus will be a level playing ground for all the presidential candidates to come together. But because of the bastardised educational system, they were scared of going to their own product to make their programmes and ideas known."
Agba tackled the endemic in NANs- faction at the peak of their administration, when there were many claimants of the presidency. He summoned a meeting to encourage others to swallow their egos urging that the status quo should not persist till the end of their administration. He brought together all self acclaiming presidents of NANs at Abuja where according to him, “we sat down to eschew our ego and to put up a unity convention regardless of whatever interest. And that brought about the emergence of one the president Dauda Mohammed from UNIJOS accepted by everybody in the convention held in Bayelsa. It there any, that was our major achievement."
With the standard he was able to set, he is of strong believe that the new executive will continue cross fertilizing the ideas. By that, NANs will go back to the basis of the 1970s and 1980s when the students’ body stood in and participated in meaningful struggles to fight anti-masses politics and since as a medium for collective propagation of the ideas that is needed for good governance.
He advised the NANs leaders –elect to maintain the standard, if they cannot beat it. “If they cannot beat the standard, they should maintain the standard," he said. "They should go back to the campuses where our legitimacy comes from, hold NANs programmes on campuses and not in hotels or government houses. They should be criticized on campus and develop on campus. That alone will make the people see NANs as a body that represent the students."