17th November, 2014
Former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has been accused of killing the student’s unionism in the country.
The accusation was made today in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital by the convener, Save Nigeria Group, SNG, Pastor Tunde Bakare during this year’s anniversary of the International Day of Students.
While delivering a paper titled, “Good Governance: Sustainability of Democracy, the Role of Students in the Forthcoming General Election”, the clergyman traced the history of students unionism to the colonial days, revealing that the body was dealt a fatal blow in 1978.
According to him, “General Olusegun Obasanjo’s government ordered the brutal suppression of that protest. Live bullets were unleashed on protesting students. As we proceeded outside University of Lagos’s main gate, I narrowly escaped death as Akintunde Ojo, the young man standing next to me, was gunned down.
“With that incident, Obasanjo carved his name on marble as a villain of democracy. I did not mince words when opportunity presented itself in November of 1978, I pointed to his face saying, ‘This government possesses power without compassion, might without morality and strength without sight,” Bakare posited.
The Man of God, who recently turned 60, further stated that students unionism has been hijacked by never do well people, stressing that the height of this fall was the conferment of the title of Defender of Democracy on Obasanjo in 2005 by student body.
“Nevertheless, student unionism in Nigeria today is in a sorry state. Not only has it fallen from its pinnacle of intellectual doggedness and ideological astuteness, it has lost its activist steam and has become a mere appendage of ruling political parties and a tool in the hands of corrupt politicians.
“The apotheosis of the perfidious degeneration of student unionism occurred in 2005 when NANS decorated General Obasanjo as a ‘Defender of Democracy’; yes the same Obasanjo who masterminded the brutal repression of unarmed students who were merely registering their displeasure over hike in fees,” Bakare stated.
He also condemned the role played by student leaders in the botched third term bid of the former President, “worse still, when progressives rose up against Obasanjo’s third term agenda in 2005, NANS shamelessly campaigned for Obasanjo’s life Presidency agenda.
“In essence, Obasanjo killed student’s unionism in Nigeria. As a military Head of State, he killed NANS by brutal repression and proscription. When Obasanjo returned as civilian President, he killed NANS and made it a shadow of itself, doing so this time by corrupting the body.
“Upon the foundation of corruption of student unionism laid by Obasanjo, NANS has become weak and factionalised in subsequent administrations.”
Bakare, however called on the student body to embark on journey of rebirth to return to the good old days of student activism, “then you must rid yourselves of cultism and other self destructive tendencies and take back student unionism from hoodlums and charlatans.
“You must restore student unionism to its glory days. After undergoing such rebirth, the student union must become a shining light to the dark polity,” he advised.