By Abdullah Abdulganiy
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) had its national convention last week to usher in new leaders. The convention ran for three days but was not without some drama. Prior to the convention itself, NANS had always been in the news for the not-so-good reasons as the outgoing national president, Danielson Akpan was battled for his sit tight approach to power.
Akpan held on to the position for two straight years and was not willing to hand over power. He fought his opponents back. Apparently however, he was overpowered by forces beyond him which culminated in last week’s convention after he had been suspended.
The convention took place at the old parade ground, Abuja, the nation’s capital. On Thursday, as accreditation was ongoing, news of some boys brandishing different weapons (guns, machetes) rented the air. They were reported to have disrupted the peaceful process of the convention, leaving scores seriously injured. In fact, some publications said men of the Department of State Security (DSS) took to their heels.
Commenting on the unfortunate incident, one Adamu Kabir, who is also a student leader, said the sporadic gunshot was a normal exercise, and in fact an “annual ritual” that must be observed to test the “ruggedity” of the candidates. Ruggedity, indeed!
After that riotous scene, normalcy was restored and the process went on peacefully. Then came the biggest drama. The president-elect is Sunday Asefon, a postgraduate at the Ekiti State University. Asefon is in his forties. He’s old enough to be somebody’s “grandpa”. In an association populated by youth in their early twenties.
The irony is that most of these students are the ones who rail against a Buhari presidency because in their words he’s too “old”. Granted. But is it not laughable that same students open their eyes to be led by a grandpa so to say? Does it mean that they do not practice what they preach?
The height of hypocrisy is in Nigeria’s student unionism/association. You see grandfathers parading themselves as student leaders and youths. As if that is not enough, they are cheered on by the unsuspecting students. Imagine a 50-something-year old Omoyele Sowore priding himself as a youth. The word “youth” has been so bastardized. It’s an all-comer affair. Everybody is a youth. You may just need to add Comrade to your name. Comrade Sunday Asefon.
This recent event lends a teeth to my argument that despite my belief in the NotTooYoungToRun campaign, youthfulness is not wholly a catalyst for good governance or performance. We’ve seen youths who have done fantastically bad in public offices they are trusted with. Even the so-called student leaders. But for a few, many are for “stomach infrastructure”.
They wine and dine with the politicians they crucify. Present awards to them for personal benefits and motivation. Many have allegations of misappropriation of funds hanging on their necks. This is not to say that there are not brilliant and ingenious ones among the student leaders. But the belief that only youths can move the country forward is what I disagree with, and has been ripped apart by developments overtime.
In light of this therefore, unsuspecting people should be wary of those who are found of playing on their emotions with talks of youths. They have the tendency to do worse. They just need to heat up the polity, play with sentiments for personal benefits. In the final analysis, youthfulness is not a determinant of performance or good governance. Let no one deceive you!