Student’s Union as an Honour Conferring Body for Pecuniary Gains a Worrisome Development

After reading through a news feature titled: “NYCN Dissociates Self From Honour Conferred On Obasanjo”, and published in the Saturday Independent of June 29, 2019, my mind immediately flashed back to late 2015 when I was on a mission to help a friend fix a distressed tutorial center located somewhere close to the University of Lagos, and my subsequent encounter with members of the National Association of Nigerian Students from the schools in that axis.

The National Youths Council of Nigeria (NYCN) under the leadership of Amb. Comrade Sukubo Sara-Igbe Sukubo, according to the publication dissociated itself from an honour conferred on former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Reading further, the National Public Relations Officer of the body Hammed O. Damola, on behalf of its National President Sukubo, was said to be dismayed on receiving the news of an honour conferred on Obasanjo as "Father of the Nation" and a donation of One Million Naira cheque to buy books for his presidential library by one Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere and Nihi Oladele John in the name of the National Youths Council of Nigeria.

He further puts it on record that Ikenga Ugochinyere was a former senior adviser to former Senate President Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki. He was also the spokesperson of Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP). On the other hand, Nihi Oladele John was also a member of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Kogi state campaign team and still personal assistant to Senator Dino Melaye.

Finally, in a disclaimer, he said the leadership of the NYCN has on several occasion dissociates itself from Ikenga and Nihi because they do not represent the interest and structure of the council at any level.  The general public is therefore warned not to fall victim to the duo.

Upon settling down to the task of reviving the tutorial center as mentioned above, I met a couple of young guys who will serve as my assistants in several capacities. One of them is a fresh graduate of Federal College of Education (Technical). He majors in Commerce education. I must admit that he is politically savvy too.   

There was another who isn’t a graduate, who didn’t even have his O-level qualification but went about pretending to be one deceiving the ladies and enjoying all the perks that come with such a relationship.

But I also noticed that it was as if it is an unpardonable crime to be anywhere around Akoka and you don’t have anything to do with academics.  Somehow, everybody thinks every other person is a student or at least is about to gain admission.

It may, however, not be unconnected with the fact, I stand to be corrected, that Akoka, Lagos is the happening community with the most institutions of higher learning in Nigeria. There are three of them namely The University of Lagos, Yaba College of Technology, and Federal College of Education (Technical).

I must confess that I had a cordial relationship with the guys both on and off the job.  However, I equally noticed that there is another aspect to these guys. And interestingly it has a lot to do with student unionism.

The one that is a fresh graduate of the Federal college of Education (Technical) was neck deep in student activism. And he has the ambition of becoming a politician in the future. That, you may argue is certainly in sync with the saying of Henry Noble McCracken that “Student self-self-government is a laboratory of citizenship”.

Student unionism, I agreed in totality, is a noble platform for the youths to learn the rope as far leadership is a concern and must be encouraged. 

However, there is a disturbing twist to their activities of late which has to do with conferring honours on the rich and influential members of the society strictly for pecuniary gains.

I noticed that from these young guys around me then.  And they see nothing wrong in it. In fact, they confessed to me that’s their stock in trade.

They go out of their way to shop for individuals with deep pocket with little or no concern for how they make their money.  All they care for is the monetary reward that comes with each honorary conferment.
However, to be perfectly in the know of their modus operandi, I agreed to participate in the process of honoring a traditional ruler in the community.  The said beneficiary is a Baale, who clearly, in their findings is rich.

The conferrers had the plaque ready and the sensational title neatly etched on it.  They had positions of National officers from the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) sorted out among members of the hurriedly contrived award committee.  

But they don’t have to rehearse their speeches.  They are now quite familiar with the lines because that will not be the first.  And interestingly, I was given a position whose name I can’t even remember now.

When the date arrives, a bus with the inscription National Association of Nigeria Students came through to convey us to the palace. All this is a calculated ploy to make the whole process appears official and that the National Council is in the know.
At the palace proper, we briefly hanged around for the Baale and his chiefs to be seated. And from the look of things, it was evidently one of the most important days in the life of the minor potentate as well as his chiefs.

And as the ceremony gets underway, the impostors did everything right from the roll calls of the representatives purportedly drawn from the National body of the Student’s Union as well as their speeches. I was called too and I got up, take a bow, and sat down to observe the charade.   

After the honorary conferment, the sovereign was full of gratitude for the National Association of Nigerian Students. The chiefs were not left out too.

After all said and done; and the ceremony was coming to the end, the conferrers were eager to hear the traditional ruler announce a monetary reward in the name of NANS. When none was forthcoming, at least within the targeted time frame, we all moved to the front of the palace and tarried all the same.

In the end, the royal father didn’t drop anything. But he promised to reach out to them in the days ahead. They were all obviously disappointed but they dare not show it. We boarded the bus which we had to jumpstarts and departed.

Before I left the job, I’m aware they were already hatching another plan to stage the famous standup comedian and TV host, Teju Babyface with a view to honoring him. And I wouldn’t know if they were able to actualize their plans or not.

Just like the National Youths Association of Nigeria (NYCN) did in that June 29, Saturday Independent’s news feature, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) should begin to look into the activities of members and Excos alike at several of our institutions of higher learning to see how their excesses can be curtailed.  

Because it is worrisome that the once noble body is now being used for honouring every Tom, Dick, and Harry in the society with a singular aim of getting financial rewards, though, I'm not unaware of the crisis and factionalization in the Association presently.       

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