By Babatunde Kaka
The Federal Lawmaker representing Epe Federal Constituency at the lower chamber of the National Assembly, Hon Tasir Wale Raji has called for a focal re-orientation of Student Union bodies in higher institutions of learning across Nigeria.
Represented by his aide on Research and Youth Affairs, Mr Osifeko Mark Olaniyi, the lawmaker made the call on Thursday, November 18, 2021, at an event organised to commemorate the 2021 International Students Week at the Federal College of Fisheries and Marine Technology, Victoria Island.
High profile names present at the event include the Provost of the Federal College of Fisheries and Marine Technology, Dr Chuks Onuoha, Director of Ekiti State University (EKSU) Degree Program (MOCPED), Dr Olumuyiwa Viatonu, Dean, Student Affairs of AOCOED, Dr Dawodu.
Others were NANS Zone D Coordinator, NANS JCC Lagos Axis Coordinator, Com. Rasheed Ogunsanya, Legislative Aide to Rep. Wale Raji, Ms Modupeoluwa Ogunkoya, student leaders and students from various Lagos campuses.
Delivering the keynote address entitled “Student Unionism: A Pathway Towards Democratic and United Nigeria,” Wale Raji hailed past and present student union leaders who have represented the interests of their fellow students and contemporaries with credibility and integrity.
Hon Wale Raji also implored the student union leaders to prioritise achieving the interests of the collectivity ahead of the pecuniary incentives associated with such exalted positions.
“It is the same people with whom you serve today that you will see at the peak of your political career in the larger society. The wrongs you do today will speak against you just as the right you do today will also speak for you”.
Speaking further, the astute legislator condemned the ugly trends in unionism experienced in recent times where violence, corruption, factionalization and other reprehensible practices have become the order of the day.
He urged Union leaders to revert to the foundational objectives of student unionism, which is premised on serving as a conduit between the students and the leadership of the institution.
Also, in a bid to build sustainable leadership traits capable of repositioning student leadership and national democratic development, the Lawmaker mooted some workable recommendations which he believes will be largely dependent on the role of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“INEC Voters Card Registration Center should be situated in Every tertiary institution and every student in the tertiary institution that has attained 18 years should have a Voters Card. INEC should organize purposeful and none political seminars and symposiums in all tertiary institutions to educate students on the need to Participate actively in Electoral Processes,” the lawmaker recommended.
Other recommendations are; restoration of true unionism on campuses especially by school authorities who sometimes hijack union leadership for sinister purposes, the commitment of Union leaders to their leadership mandates, presentation of a clear and feasible blueprint by candidates before being allowed to run for elected offices as well as a level playing ground for the candidates to sell their vision/manifesto to the electorates.
Wale Raji, who was presented a leadership for his immense support to students and youths in general added no member or leader in the union should view himself as a political avatar, but seek to participate in the promotion of the overall interest of the nation’s education system.
He also held that those who defraud the union or betray the public trust should be held accountable for their actions. He also advised students to organise intra-ethnic seminars and events where the tenets of most ethnic nationalities can be headlined and highlighted.
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