Student Godfathers, Stakeholders Destroying NANS, NAPS – OkoPoly SUG President

Comrade Chukwuemeka Kingsley, President of the Student Union Government, Federal Polytechnic Oko, Anambra State, speaks with OLUMIDE OLUSEGUN on student politics, experience, and student loans among other issues.

Tell us about yourself and your background.

I am a student of public administration, HND, final year. I started my academics here in 2018 from ND1 as a class rep. Right now, I am the student union government president. I am the first son in a family of four.

As the first son of a family of four, you have a lot of responsibility when you come to talk about the family. How has it been piloting your affairs?

Of course, we have been doing our best. The country has made it so hard for everyone. So, we just have to manage in any way we can. Things are difficult for everyone.

Tell us about your experience so far as a student union president.

It has been a very nice experience. I would say this is just a stepping stone. I am going to make it in life as a political being. It has not been easy piloting the affairs of thousands of students. Trying to negotiate their parts with management on how to support them. But then, all this while, we have been doing our best to make sure that the students are well-represented. That is the motto of my administration. Excellent representation of the students. We have been doing our best to make sure that the students are well carried along, their affairs are well maintained, and their welfare is being overseen. We make sure that the management hears us out whenever we go to them for anything that has to do with the student’s welfare or interest.

But there’s always this issue of sometimes the student leaders, usually have this rapport with the management so much that they find it difficult to press on issues that have to do with the student leadership. How have you been able to manage that relationship bridging the gap between the students and the school management so much that you will not compromise the trust of the students?

The truth is that the students elected me to represent them out of thousands of students that they have entrusted to go and negotiate for them. I don’t believe in fighting the management, but I believe everything can always be sorted out in the table of negotiation. In my regime, I have always said that I am not our institution is one of the higher institutions that students’ union government doesn’t jeopardise their integrity by selling off the students to the management. No. We maintain our ground that this is what the students want, no matter whatever the offer or the benefit or whatever that comes, that may be coming out of it. We stand our ground to protect the interest of the students because they are the ones who elected us. And anything we do to jeopardise their interest. The administration will always want to be successful because higher opportunities await us in the future. And these people, no matter how naive they are now, they are still the ones who we testify tomorrow. Yes, these people did well when they were this and when they were that. Without that attestation, or if they happen to be negatively testifying in the future about me, of course, it is a very big injury to my political career. So I will just have to do my best to balance the relationship between the management and the students, which I have done to the best of my abilities.

You already had the experience of politicking within this student arena. Do you intend to take this experience and your political ambition to the Nigerian political space to practice in the real politics of Nigeria?

Of course, we are learning to improve to go higher. I believe that this opportunity given to me is an avenue for me to establish my political background so that I will have enough evidence to back up my political aspirations when the time comes. This is the half of my administration and I am in the middle of my administration. And I believe that by the end of everything, I will have more experience.

You earlier mentioned that things are hard in the country and with the leadership experience you have had, how would you describe President Tinubu’s administration in the area of governance, especially within the education sector since he assumed office?

Leadership is not easy. I have used my little office to know. People will always criticise you without knowing what you are going through. I won’t say Tinubu is doing perfectly well. I won’t say he is not doing well. The only thing I will keep saying is that leadership is not easy. And whatever he is doing, he is doing it based on his ability, capability, and understanding. And I believe that is what works for him. So whoever goes there tomorrow, we also deploy a means of what will work for him. But in my understanding of what I can see. Tinubu is doing his best. Nigeria is not a country that you can just wake up and turn around overnight. No. There are a lot of mechanisms to employ and deploy to make Nigeria better. No matter the pressure or the prophetic messages people are saying, there is no miracle that we make Nigeria become the US overnight. To the best of my knowledge, Tinubu is trying his best and I give him the accolade.

One of the initiatives of the Tinubu-led administration is the student loans and the implementation has commenced. What is your take on the idea?
The idea is very nice, just that the procedure is very hectic. I have tried going through it. It is a very tenuous process. I don’t know if there is any way they can make it simpler. Also, when I went through the process, I saw the list of institutions that were enlisted. And my institution was not there. I was worried why a federal institution as popular as ours was not enlisted in the programme. It gives a bad signal about what is happening. But then I don’t know how they gave me information about those institutions they enlisted there. My institution was not enlisted and I don’t like it.

You could remember there was a time that the handlers of the programmes said some institutions refused to submit the data of their students. How well are you aware if your institution submitted the data of your students and what are you doing about it as the president of the institution?

Whoever the issue may be from, I am not just comfortable about the fact that my institution was not enlisted because I know many students from my institution would like to benefit from it. But then I will have to speak with my Rector to know what happened because we have seen the data released online. My institution was not among those enlisted.

Speaking with the president of the Student Union Representative Council of Amadu Bello University, Zaria Aminu Abubakar, said that students will buy phones and cars with student loans. What is your take on that?

The truth is that people have their priorities. But I don’t think any wise student should get such a loan and buy a car, phone, or irrelevant properties. Someone who has something upstairs should obtain loans that will help him or her earn more money to pay back the loan. It is called a loan, not a giveaway or grant. It’s a loan that you have to pay back. To be sincere, any student who would use such a loan to buy a car is a foolish person. Let me just believe that will not happen.

There are concerns about the age-long crisis between the Academic and Non-academic staff unions of universities. How would you describe the federal government’s commitment to alleviating the suffering of workers in the education sector?

The Federal Government is backward when it comes to this aspect. The truth is that good deeds deserve to be adequately rewarded. When you see a lecturer earning a Peanut especially now that they are demanding an increase in the minimum wage, it is not much that the Federal Government cannot grant their demand. But prolonging this whole issue and making it seem as if it is impossible. It’s just not okay by me. This is something that the president and all those involved should look into. The country is too hard. Prices of items are increasing daily but the salaries remain the same while every other thing increases. It shouldn’t be. The Federal Government’s relationship with the tertiary institution workers as relates to financing is too poor. I urge the federal government to step up.

The unions have threatened strike actions if the Federal Government refused to yield to their demands. Do you have fears about this issue of strike?

At this moment, I don’t even want to believe that there will be a strike. The Federal Government, I believe the administration of President Tinubu has what it takes to do the needful to avert this coming strike. The strike is not something that we should hold on to at this moment. We shouldn’t anticipate a strike at all because all these things these people are demanding are workable. They are not demanding for the impossible. Even if it is impossible, negotiate with them, and give them some sense of belonging. We don’t want any strike and I believe there will be no strike if the needful to be done.

On the issues of unionism in the school. There has always been this issue of crisis, especially when unions such as the National Association of Nigerian Students, and National Association of Polytechnic Students are having their elections even though these people pride themselves as leaders of tomorrow. Is it not worrisome how the so-called tomorrow leaders are becoming a nuisance today?

One major problem that the NANS and NAPS are having is Stakeholder problems. They are the major problem. You will see someone who graduated 10, 20, and 30 years ago involved in NANS and NAPS politics. What are they still doing in NANS and NAPS? They should go and rest and allow the young ones who are in the game to play the game. But if they keep on becoming godfathers of nonsense, trying to pilot the affairs of students, they will continue to create problems. Someone who has a lot of children in the family, three wives, and so on, has students to take care of, you are just going about messing up your life with student activities, it is something that you have far gone beyond. So the major problem we have in NANS and NAPS is stakeholders.

Do you mean student godfathers?

Yes, student godfathers who call themselves stakeholders. Until these people leave, NANS and NAPS will know no peace because they are the pilots of all the hatred anarchy, and the violence occurring in NANS and NAPS. I am even afraid of this year’s convention in Abuja, I may not go to Abuja because I heard what happened last year, the way they shot, and all those other things. Who can just wake up and decide to go on a violent election and risk his or her life? For how much? But these are the things that stakeholders do. If they come to you and tell you this is who we want you to vote for, no matter who the person is, even if the person is an animal, we want you to vote for the person and you say no. They will cause havoc, and scatter everywhere, you might even get injured. So the only problem NANS and NAPS have are stakeholders and Godfatherism, let them go and we will have peace.

So how do you think the federal government can intervene?

The only way federal governments can intervene is to caution various institutions and various arms of students, to stop recognising them. Don’t welcome them in your institution. Once they are done with their duties, let them go. Go and go for good. Those who are new in the game, who are picking up the mantle of leadership, can come and do things. Can you imagine my school, someone can just call me, I was former this and that in NANS and NAPS, I want to come and pay a visit to your Rector, I will ask, for what? I will not lead you if you know your way, go. So the Federal Government can stop it by issuing stern warnings to various institutions and various cadres of student political levels, to stop entertaining this, and once they are done, let them go.

Sometimes you hear that the Federal Government or a top government official has an interest in a particular candidate but the students have an interest in another candidate thereby leading to a clash. What is your call to the Federal Government in this regard?

The truth is that this is a student activity. A situation of such an instance does not make sense. Why will Federal or state government or politicians have to have an interest in the affairs of students? This should not be condoned. They should fund the activity and allow the process to be and not try to interrupt it. This issue we are having is because you feel you have connection and money, you can do things to boycott every process of getting into office. And that is why someone like Peter Obi will always say that if you must be called His Excellency, the process that brought you into that office must be excellent. And that is why till tomorrow I will be proud to be called His Excellency Giant Comrade, because I know I was well elected by the students.

About Olumide Olusegun

Check Also

UI Engages Students Over Protest

By Olumide Olusegun | The Management of the University of Ibadan has met with the …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *