The recent agitation and imbroglio at the Lekki Toll Gate in the wake of the calamitous and ill-faited #endSARS protests and attendant consequences must necessarily redefine the Buhari-led government’s hostile attitude towards the youth.
Statistics has shown that 75% of our population constitutes people below age 35. The intellectual pack that occupied the toll gate during the protests are either National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) members who joined because ASUU was on strike. Graduates who are former members of NANS were also available to participate because they were less busy due to lack of employment. Although the protests were facilitated to some extent by a few business- oriented guys, some of whom are privileged to have the means. It is this class of the populace that government is now going after. Beyond chasing shadows, NANS convention and election of its leaders offers this government the opportunity to improve on its human rights rating locally and internationally.
The Lekki impasse would have been better managed on both sides, had the group had leaders that could dialogue with the government when it was ready and willing to talk.
Reports from Abuja shows that the students community is already agog with representatives of governors who are desirous of the office of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2023.
The chiefs of staff or different governors are working asiduously to out smart one another on behalf of their principals. The determination of this class of aspirants to hijack the leadership of NANS by manipulating its election must be frowned at and resisted by the Buhari-led administration, using relevant security apparatuses. Government must consider intelligence from the DSS and critically review them to make intervention where necessary at ensuring that true students representative leadership emerges during this week’s NANS elections holding between the 3rd and 6th of December 2020.
The zoning of NANS Presidency and the general secretary to the South West did worsen the interest of South West governors in the leadership of NANS. Failure of Federal Government to stop governors from intruding in the election may surge up cultism and violent- related activities on our campuses and by extension our country.
The violence that our mainstream politics has become must not be allowed to over run NANS election this year. This is the first litmus test that the Buhari Government must pass to show its readiness to promote non violent election in 2023.
Communication is the strength of every relationship, government and citizens inclusive. Nigerian students must resist every temptation by those who are not members of NANS to determine its leadership with an intention to influence and control the students body.
The aborted willingness of the Buhari-led administration to dialogue with the Nigerian youths during the last EndSARS movement protests must be revived. One sure way to effect this is to ensure that persons that are true representatives of the students and not proxies of politicians with an agenda other than a better NANS leadership emerges as elected representatives of the Nigerian students.
The very best of conventions my wishes to NANS, and may her best emerge during this election.
Long live, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, long live the National Association of Nigerian Students.