National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) was birthed in 1980 as a successor to the National Union of Nigerian Students (NUNS) which was proscribed by the then military dispensation of Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo. It is a body that represents the interests of millions of Nigerian students both home, and in diaspora. But reverse seems to be the case with the NANS of today, that its leadership and activities range from violence, to monetization, and being used as dreaded tools in the hands of political office holders. Here is a quick look at some of these ugly shades with the student body.
1. Violence: The violence that is always accompanied with NANS gatherings is one of the indices that undermine the value of the student body. Especially during elections, NANS representatives are seen coming to the polls with charms, and some other objects of violence.
2. Government Stooges: As opposed to its duty of taking up the government on its unfavourable policies and actions, the NANS Body take sides with the government. For instance, in the erstwhile administration of President Good luck Jonathan, the NANS Body conferred on him an award of Grand Commander of Nigerian Students, amid the closure of tertiary institutions for more than 5 months. They are sometime used as errand boys by politicians.
3. Lobbying for Political Appointments: Majority of those who vie for offices in NANS do so for cheap political appointments in their constituencies. They work with politicians rather than students to get cheap connections. They lead students to protest government actions, but end up as their Political Special Advisers.
4. Toothless Dog: NANS today can be regarded as a toothless dog. They issue ultimatums to the government at every opportunity but they do nothing at its expiration.
5. Lack of Focus/No Meaningful Projects: NANS body lacks focus. The representatives source money from many channels but with no meaningful projects. No student-oriented welfare programmes in tertiary institutions.
6. Useless Awards: This is one of the failures of the NANS we have today. They give awards to undeserving citizens for the sake of financial gains from these political figures. Recently, the student body was divided over the ‘Golden Man of the Year’ award given to Senator Buruji Kashamu by its leader, Tijani Usman. According to him, Kashamu, an alleged drug baron, was given the award because of ”his large heartedness and philanthropic gestures to Nigerians of all shades and colours, especially the less-privileged.” Such honour signifies a pitiable erosion of value and a leadership that has been so debased, backward and visionless.
7. Self Enrichment With Huge Allowance: It is a shame that the leadership of NANS today enrich themselves with huge allowance. There is hardly any meeting conducted or visit that would go without compensation. Their public conduct opposes the legacy of the founding fathers, who were organisationally and operationally effective with less stipends.
8. Non Student/Over-aged Leadership: Majority of those who head NANS are far-above average school age. Some of them have been either been sent out of their school, or queried for one level of gross misconduct or the other. This is blamed on the poor organisation structure that is responsible different factions and terrible student organisation.