Today's Students' Unionism
Upon my admission into the university, my idea of the Students' Union Government was a union which comprises a group of students with similar goals and objectives speaking in one voice not knowing that my definition or decription of Students' unionism has long been reviewed by the Students' "unionists" as a body comprising students who delve mistakenly into school politics to amass wealth for themselves, drive around our campuses in Toyota sienna vans,live in furnished rooms despite the lamentable state of our hostels and wear starched clothes.
Students' unionism has been typical of an oxymoron because studentship in recent times has dissociated itself from the essence of unionism.It is quite lamentable and laughable that problems in higher institutions brew when the population of students has increased in tens over the years.
The offices of students' union officials have become too juicy leaving Nigerian students in the hands of leaders who are worse than the occupants of the red and green chambers.Leadership ought to be purpose driven and not that which is backed by finacial appetite.
As scholarly as Albert Eisten when offered the position of Isreal presidency declined the offer saying he lacks the natural aptitude to handle official matters.There is no gainsaying Eistien made his mark on earth. The case of students leaders is quite different as they are sponsored by godfathers in schools' governing council or "overgraduate students".
"Overgraduate students" are those alumni ou see on our campuses who come to our campuses to invest in students' union elections, all these has given rise to mediocrity in students' union government.
These tom,dick and harry students' leaders emmerge victorious and they go into government to fulfil their purpose which is not to speak as a voice for the students but do the dictates of sponsors and protrude their pockets.The interference of school authorities in students' politics is also a plague to students' activism, the level of tribalism that plays on our campuses is colossal where certain positions are reserved for students of host communities.Often times on our campuses there are clashes between school's annionted candidates and the oba,eze,alafin,emir,sultan,ovie,olu as the case may be.
The palaces have become determiners of the lives of young students who are christened "leaders of "tomorrow"
The deplorable state of our hostels today is not due to the bad government we have in Nigeria today but due to the dumb leaders we have on our campuses who have refused to speak for the students who have no choice but to find comfortability in bed bug-ravaged mattresses, bushes housing bed bugs,over crowded hostel rooms, bad toilets and open air bathrooms(student have their bath outside).
Students' activism can no longer be percieved in our schools, maybe it died with Abacha. Students' associations in the departmental and faculty levels are the most handicapped on our campuses, their objectives are simple -host faculty and departmental balls, produce t-shirts and collect dues from which a good proportion of the dues collected leave students' coffers to faculty deans and HODs.
These faculty leaders ought to channel the grieviances of their students to the SUG when they can no longer contain the pressure.Contrary to the objective of a sane students' union,leaders protect their GPs to the detriment of students they lead.
Victimization of students has become commonplace on our campuses where students are victimized for not dancing to the tune of greedy lecturers and sexually voracious lecturers who have turned their offices in hotel rooms,when these innocent young women die of abortion their families become painned and when their wombs are destroyed the become prey to their future husbands.
The students' leaders have not been able to tame these unsrupulous elements in the name of academics.
The state of overcrowdiness of our lecture theatres is so much in a sorry state, where a lecture hall for five hundred students is made to forcfully occupy over three thousand students.
Arise! Students must not be dumb or feign ignorance of this plague, thousands of students united cannot be defeated by a few pot bellied administrators who know of our plights but have not been informed with cries and demonstrations of angry students who have not enjoyed the true benefits of studentship.The school is a micro reflection of the larger society and if we fail as intellectuals the society will die.We must not wait on our "leader" but on the miraculous spirit of "aluta"
Let the unschooled man not say "thank God I didn't go to school.We must talk.
Merie Prosper is a student of the University
of Benin and a social critic