The newly-elected president of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Sunday Asefon, has decried the incessant strike actions by lecturers, which have crippled academic activities in the country.
Asefon said it is unfortunate that many students end up spending up to seven years in the university for a course of four years.
According to him, the federal government and the striking lecturers need to come to a round table to find a lasting solution to the reoccurring impasse.
The student leader stated this when he paid a visit to Comrade Daniel Onjeh, one of the Nigeria’s most respected student activists who led NANS 18 years ago.
The NANS President said he had come to seek for guidance and advice from Comrade Onjeh in recognition of his meritorious stewardship of the organization.
The university lecturers’ strike, he added, negatively impacted Nigerian students, educational and financially.
He noted that most of the students who paid for accommodation lost their money because of the strike and they have to pay rent afresh when the schools reopen as their landlords do not care about what caused them not to stay in their rented rooms.
According to him, “Ours, we have decided that we want to fight for the interest of the Nigerian students. The issue of ASUU strike, making our students to stay at home every time must come to an end.
“If there is an agreement between the federal government and ASUU, the FG should as a matter of urgency try to honour the agreement, and if there is none, they should come out to tell us because we cannot continue to allow our students to stay at home every year, it is not fair.
“It is sad that most of our students who are studying a five or four years course, end up spending up to seven years on campus due to this industrial action by lecturers, this is against the curriculum of the Nigerian student.
“During the course of my campaign, I visited most of the universities in the country and discovered that students in one of the schools are paying as high as N185,000 as acceptance fee. To us it is fraudulent, to us is a scam.
“These are things we are going to put an end to.
“Let it be on record that if by the end of this December, the federal government and ASUU failed to come to a conclusion and our students returned to class, we shall embark on a total shutdown,” he warned.
The new NANS President, however, said the claim that he is 48 years of age is laughable.
He pointed out that if he served under NANS Presidents who came after Onjeh, people who were far younger than Onjeh, how could he be older than Onjeh as media reports claim?
He said he expects his political adversaries, especially those who lost in the contest for the NAN Presidency and their backers, to sponsor these spurious reports to blackmail him.
“The allegation that I am a serving civil servant is baseless. If my accusers have proof, they should come forward with it, as he who asserts must prove. I promise to resign if anyone comes forward with proof that I am a civil servant.
“Those going about with the story are the people that their candidates lost during the election.
“For your information, I am a post graduate student of Ekiti State University, with matric number SU/PGD/MN36. Department of Institute of Peace and Security.
The new NANS President used the opportunity to sound a warning to lecturers in higher institutions of learning in Nigeria who demand sex for mark from female students. He promised to pursuit every legal means to pursue the matter and to ensure that these sexual predators are flushed out of our schools and prosecuted.
In response, Onjeh advised him to domesticate NANS activities by prioritizing the interests of Nigerian students, whom he swore to, defend and protect, in all ramifications.
He urged him to be true to the organization’s constitution and its Charter of Demand whose tenets are geared towards the enhancement of the educational system and the development of Nigeria. Further to that, he urged him to provide exemplary leadership to the organization, and to strive to strengthen and make NANS independent.
This, he said, can be achieved through constructive engagement with the constituted authorities and a return to the collection of capitation fees from its members. If students across the nation contribute to the NANS purse, the organization would not be vulnerable to the whims and caprices of politicians and other state actors. The organization can, through the fees students pay, be able to sustain its programmes.
Drawing from his experience as a former NANS President and a civil society actor, Onjeh told the incoming NANS President that the best way to attain his objectives is by organizing programmes that will uplift the Nigerian student.