Students Union are found in all higher institutions in Nigeria and are generally very effective until recently when the strength of Student Unionism becomes weaker.
Students Unionism began in 1925 with the emergence of West Africa Student Union (WASU). and was partly pioneered by some Nigerian students in London.
They fought the colonial masters for the right of Africans.
The National Union of Nigerian Students (NUNS) inherited the same ideology from WASU and became a platform of change and informed activism.
People like Late. Segun Okeowo, Akintunde, and the likes wrote their names in gold as active student unionist.
Students Unionism is a very good foundation to learn and train a student and achieve a smooth drive into a larger political water of the nation.
In everybody, it is a common knowledge that youths make up the most populous section of the society.
The youths are future leaders, hence they are importantto a nation.
The students in our higher institutions represent a greater percentage of youths in the nation.
The students are at the pinnacle of their lives.
The time of exuberance and diverse manifestation of youthful energy and zest.
It is with all this in view that the student period of one’s life is considered as the most active or productive of one’s life.
Failure to appropriately utilise this period, no doubt will lead to catastrophic consequences.
The future of Nigerian politics strongly depends on the quality of students so produced, therefore the quality of students Unionism in our institutions has direct impact on the quality of our political leaders, hence direction of Student Unionism is of paramount importance to the future of Nigeria.
I, therefore wish to analyse the future of Nigerian students and proffer suggestions that will contribute meaningfully towards the creation of a better future for the nation.
The student age is normally characterized by certain qualities as vigour, freshness, immaturity e.t.c, at this age , students are characterized by hyper activeness.
In a society, such as we have in Nigeria, the importance and place of our students is often times relegated to the background, a society that treats the elderly and aged people with a lot of respect can very easily turn that well intended respect for the aged to neglect and disrespect for students, there is no gain saying the fact the effect of negligence in our students is of catastrophic proportions.
Students has a natural tendency to be free, to be noticed and to express themselves, hence when they are neglected, there is the possibility to engage in all sorts of activitiesm some of which could be harmful or inimical of good conduct in order to make themselves noticed.
In the Nigerian society, students are expected to be hardworking, with the harsh economic conditions and the highly critical atmosphere that pervades the nation, it is not uncommon to see students forced into various activities both good and bad in order to ensure a living, with the soaring cost of education, the ever rising cost of goods and services, coupled with the ever depleting and diminishing standard of living, many students can no longer afford to obtain quality education, with the ever increasing quick money syndrome andthe need to survive, Nigerian students are exploiting every opportunity available to them for survival, the effect is the turning out of students who are half baked, immature and most times poorly equipped for the challenges of the future which includes good leadership.
Considering the fact that the Nigerian society of tomorrow belongs to the students of today, it becomes necessary and of urgent need that students and students Unionism must be integrated into the order of thingsm with the current trend of civilisation, high scientific and technical breakthrough, it becomes necessary that students Unionism be strengthened to meet up with global standards and challenges so that the product of Unionism will be able to compete favourably with contemporaries from different part of the diaspora.
High quality student Unionism cannot be relegated to the background, the future of our nation depends strongly on our youths and students Unionism is expected to be a political test ground for our youths, they are expected to be well educated, that encompasses Academic, religious, moral, physical, political and other aspects of training, this is the only way that our students Unionism can revolutionalize our society by proffering new ideas, working asidioulsy towards attainment of developmental goals and the making of a better Nigeria.
Enhancing a better student Unionism will aid a better Nigerian future by moulding our students to become exemplary like the biblical injunction says;”bring up a child in the way he should he go and when he is old enough, he will not depart from it.” In the same way, adequate character formation of our students through a better unionism is of paramount and cardinak importance. The most important means by which this can be done is to institute a viral student unionism.
The society no doubt is the singular most important factor in the development od student union, this simply because the student live in the society. All that he or she sees,hears and pronounces are the things which goes on around him or her in the society. Therefore, a student growing in war torn country will definitely grow up bearing the imprint of violence, desolation, destruction and hunger. The same goes for a student who grows up in an atmosphere of crime, filth and poverty. The atmosphere has alot of effects on the development of our students. THis referred to in social sciences as nature. This has to with environment in which students finds him or herself. The role of religious organisations on this political test ground called Unionism cannot be overemphasised. Religion shapes mindset, it is without doubt that students are very receptive, they accept quickly and once they are given to certain theories, they seek out ways to prcticalize what they have learnt. This no doubt makes it important that religious organisations strive to inculcate the values of patriotism, love for fellow men and the need for honesty and transparency in handling public affairs.
Religious organisations must take student union formation seriously and specially make out time ro relate with students and make effort to instruct, encourage and pacify them.
Mass and electronic media should be put to proper use to encourage students to participate in student unionism. Our higher institutions are expected to provide quality political programme in our institutions. The things that we see and hear go along way in affecting our thoughts and attitudes. Like jesus christ said, the words that i speak to you are spirit and they are life. The audio visual that we see on the television and the program that we listen to on radio go a long way to determine what and who we become. Educative and informative programs on the ass and electronic media will produce an educated and informed student population. On he other hand, violent, pormographic and unhealthy program will leave a polluted and morally debouched student population.
The government should create an enabling atmosphere for student unionism to grow in our institutions. The government is also expected to organise student union programs to train our students on such topics as leaderships,wealth creation etc. Parents should encourage their wards to participate in seminars.
The factor limiting proper development of student union in Nigeria includes the following;
1) Poor infrastructure
3) High cost of living
4) Negative influence of political leaders
5) Bad government
6) Lack of religious influence
7) Uncensored audio and video materials
8) Quick money syndrome
9) High crime rate
The Nigerian students union is expected to rise above economic and moral degradation. The ned for complete and revolutionary changein the present system of student unionism in our institutions. This can only be achieved by taking drastic measures such as those already outlined.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
There is no mountain too high to climb neither is there any river too wide to cross, it only begins with a change of mindset. The future of the Nigerian student union, though bleak, can be remedied and it is in the hands of the students themselves to do so. Then, Student unionism can be a better platform for good leadership.
Ifemosu Michael Adewale
Founder Youth In Good Governance Initiative YIGGI
Mail : firstname.lastname@example.org.
Twitter : @elderdacomplex