Asefon Sunday Dayo, a post-graduate student of Ekiti State University (EKSU), was declared winner of the presidential election of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), in Abuja last week. But, it was not without chaos as gunshots were fired during the convention.
In an interview with CAMPUSLIFE, Olawale Kappo, Southwest coordinator of NANS, who was at the convention, stated that three buses from Moshood Abiola Polytechnic (MAPOLY), Ogun State, Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo, and the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta stormed the venue with occupants of the buses shooting.
He noted that officials of the Department of State Service (DSS) had to intervene by shooting into the air to stop those thugs.
Kappo, however, debunked claims that 20 people were injured. He said only one person sustained injuries, and nobody died.
“When accreditation started around 12pm, almost all the zones had taken part. It was the turn of Zone D, then we noticed that three buses drove in belonging to MAPOLY, FUNAAB and Adeyemi College of Education. Those in the buses started shooting. When the shooting continued, the DSS operatives shot into the air to disperse them. Some of the thugs ran away. The DSS men searched the buses and recovered guns. They took the buses away thereafter. Nobody died, only one person sustained injuries,” he said.
He continued: “Thugs from a particular camp were mobilised to disrupt the election. We know the people who brought the buses. People who do not have the interest of students at heart wanted to create problems and make the election inconclusive.”
Reacting to the incident, a member of the NANS Convention Planning Committee (CPC), Adamu Kabir, described the shooting as an “annual ritual”.
He said: “This shooting is an annual ritual that must be observed in order to test the candidates contesting the NANS presidency.’’
Students condemn shooting
Chairman, Joint Campus Committee, Ondo axis, Akintewe Babatunde, pinpointed cultism as the cause of the shooting at the convention.
He said: “In an election that involves students from all states of the federation, there is a tendency that cultists would come to prove themselves. We have been preaching against cultism, but sadly, it still holds sway in schools. It is unfortunate. As youths,we accuse politicians of using thugs during election, but we are not different from them.”
Babatunde, who said it was disappointing that those contesting NANS election, left school many years ago, but still wants a drastic change in the union.
“Students in their final year should be allowed to lead the union, not those who graduated nine years ago. Of all those who contested this year’s election, the youngest candidate was 23 years old; the rest were above 40. This should change. The government should look into the matter and take NANS election to campuses,” he said.
President, Lagos State University Students Union, Ashade Abdulbasit, who decried the shooting, said it was time the narrative of NANS changed, noting that the chaos at the convention was uncalled for.
He said: “This is not the first time it has happened. Some even said it is the tradition of NANS. This is not supposed to be so. It is high time we changed the narrative of the association. We need to change. Such should not happen again.
“The convention was going on peacefully until those thugs came around and started shooting. It took the efforts of the DSS officials to restore order.’’
A Students Union Government (SUG) President, who preferred anonymity, expressed his disappointment with student leaders who resorted to violence during their election.
Chinonso Odoemena, a Political Science student from Abia State University, said: “I’ve never believed in NANS, and I know they’re being manipulated by top officials. That fight was a struggle for interest that’s not even within the students but within officials.”
An Engineering student from Yaba College of Technology, Christian Onyisi, said the shooting was a distraction b cultists looking to cause trouble.
‘’I am sure it was a cultist group stirring trouble. Honestly, the shooting at the NANS convention was a distraction caused by one of the opposing parties.”
Vivian Iheme, a student of the University of Abuja said: “NANS leadership is a non-productive and inactive leadership. They basically don’t represent the Nigerian students well, they are no different from the bad leadership we complain about in the governance of Nigeria.’’
For Favour Samuel, a Chemical Engineering student of the University of Uyo, the problem started from the grassroots.
“I feel this is a problem that started from the grassroots.The problem the NANS is having now, they learnt it from their leaders, especially those in politics,” she said.
Also, Sandra Michael, an English and Literary Studies student, said this was the right time for student-leaders to pressurise ASUU to call off the strike, but they were busy with irrelevancies.
“At a time when we expect these so-called representatives to mount a healthy pressure on ASUU. They are busy chasing rats while the house in on fire.
“It is appalling that a consensus can’t be reached without violence. This isn’t the way forward for our educational system. NANS are elected to represent the interest of students at the state and federal levels and not turn barbaric nor invest in stomach infrastructure or political rivalry.
“We expect the relevant authorities to call themselves to order and ensure the matter at hand is resolved … the crux of it being the resumption of tertiary institutions.”
Uzoma Michael, a 400- Level student of Landmark University, lamented that politicians have influenced students such that shooting has been termed “annual ritual.”
“They are really learning fast from the politicians! How canould era?
“Who will pay the hospital bills since it is the norm to shoot annually. The participants should be banned from participating in future conventions to serve as a deterent to others. They are future chair-throwing senators in the making,” he said.
Robert Joel, a 400- Level student of Abia State University (ABSU), said: “I don’t think this is right. Violence is not a normal thing. It is sad that testing how rugged candidates are has become the norm during conventions. Something must be done to address that.”
Also Othniel Eggah, a final year Computer Engineering student of the Federal University of Technology, Minna, advised that security agents should look into the situation and culprits should be brought to book to forestall a recurrence.
Uwakmfon Umoh, a Chemical Engineering student of Michael Okpara University, said: “Honestly, it’s all politics and ego. Violence is expected to occur because of the nature of students. However, such should not be allowed to happen again. If a student association cannot conduct elections without chaos, then the future of the country looks bleak.”