A Nigerian human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) on Friday, May 15, lamented over the ineffectual patriotism of today’s Nigerian university students and the country’s youths as a whole.
Falana expressed this displeasure during a virtual conference attended by this reporter and many other Nigerian youths, most of whom were drawn from universities across the country.
The e-conference titled: “COVID-19 spending: The role of students in holding federal and state governments to account,” was organised and coordinated by the Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project (SERAP).
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria said the unwarranted taciturnity of today’s Nigerian students in the wave of many societal ills which, to him, “are enough to challenge” authorities at all levels, is bothersome to him.
He encouraged students to get involved in all political and social activities going on around them. This, he said, would enable them to be able to hold their leaders accountable.
Referencing budgetary allocations for the purchase of cars for the political leaders and the renovations of government buildings, he challenged students to fight waste in today’s government because, according to him, “there is a lot of money in the system which should be redirected to building the education system. The resources are enormous and if it has been well managed, it would be enough for all.”
He further encouraged Nigerian students to take a cue from their counterparts in other societies. Using Cuba as an example, he said in spite of the country’s small demography, the government has been able to build its systems to become so viable that the country has medical experts in many countries around the world volunteering to help fight the novel coronavirus disease.
In conclusion, he encouraged students to study global events to be able to have a healthy parallel juxtaposition of systemic functionality or otherwise with the Nigerian society. He expressed this as a major fear to him, maintaining that Nigerian students are not updated enough with events around them.
More so, maintaining the role expected of youth in the nation-building, Falana enjoined students to be ready to build their future by themselves and not leave it in the hands of “gerontocracies.”
He noted that the society was better when he was an undergraduate, recalling that even before graduation, job offers were placed before students and students only had to choose which one gave them better dividends.
Student activism during his undergraduate days, he said, was a viable tool used to address issues in the country and unionism was utilised to address anomalies in society. He noted that in spite of numerous agitations, “no government proscribed any Student Union Government.”
Relying on this, he challenged students to bring their university or tertiary schools authorities to account, concluding that the youth must ensure their Vice-Chancellor and Governing Council comply with the rule of law.
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