Fading Unionism

By Kazeem Olalekan Israel GCAF

This is not the time to read from the book of lamentation about the safety of democracy in Nigeria. We have been told that democratization in Nigeria is still some work in progress. Really, from the insensitive attitude of the federal law makers who are breaking the laws, notably the law on monetization of benefits by buying cars they have collected money for, it is clear that all is not well with our brand of democracy.

I am quite concerned that there is too much quiet about the many concerns that are assailing this democracy and the civil society organizations including the media are not on top of the situation. May be the situation is on top of all of us!

There are now more columnists than reporters of the gory details of the Fulani herdsmen's atrocities. Journalism is remarkable only when the people, especially elders, experts, rights activists, CSOs, youth movements mobilize to get the front pages daily for a long time.

That was how we got this democracy. The most significant body in this civil society movement has always been the students union. Even before independence, student activists from tertiary institutions have always been the arrowheads of civil society actions. But now, the student unions in Nigeria have become part of the campaign against the people.

They now have their headquarters in the nation's capital, Abuja where they regularly assist even troubled and corrupt government agencies to defend their positions. It is a tragedy. The civil society organizations have always been strategic to getting the critical mass of protesters and agitators for the right thing to be done.

Now we have a national legislature that works hard to touch the treasury with all their 'legislooting' strength. We have had sordid revelations about how men of yesterday have been looting our treasury. We have had details of the horrendous Panama papers.

The 2016 budget (appropriation) bill cannot be signed into law because of reported impurities in the document. There is a permanent national energy crisis (fuel scarcity and power outage); there is inexplicable cash crunch in 27 out of 36 states of the federation, as the governments of the states cannot pay salaries anymore.

The newspapers have written their editorials on these issues and yet nothing has happened. Even the Students Union body and those concerned are insufferably silent. It now seems that they are comfortable with the whole scene.

Come to think of it, the umbrella body of Nigerian Students, NANS has been irreticent on the issues directly affecting the well-being of Nigerian Students.

Those leading us in NANS are now passive and irresponsible. It is inscrutable why the leadership of NANS are silent over the issues affecting the larger society, especially the Students. We want a NANS where men would be men, leaders would be leaders, and our vibrancy would be speaking.

We don't want a NANS where our leaders would just be blowing grammars without action. They are just noisy on social media platforms, they don't follow their words with a total clampdown on Nigerian streets. What has happened to NANS? Is there any serious internal affairs challenge?

Why are we not asking questions on daily basis? I am really concerned that we students are not reading the import of Albert Einstein's message in 1879, that: The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything. This is the time to re-structure NANS and re-build the consciousness in us. E Soweto! E Africa! E Aluta!

Kazeem Olalekan Israel (GANI) Member, Pacesetters Movement, OAU

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