Nigerian students have been asked to develop the power of imagination and creativity in order to position for opportunities to enhance their future.
The call was made by a human rights activist and erstwhile student leader, Mr. Wale Adeoye recently in Lagos. Adeoye addressed student representatives from the University of Lagos and Yaba College of Technology during a campus conversation on good governance, elections and related electoral issues held organised by the International Press Centre (IPC) under the Strengthening Citizens Engagement in Electoral Process (SCEEP) with the support of UKaid and Actionaid.
Adeoye, a former student leader and human rights activist enlightened students at the event. “You must develop your power of imagination. After university, you must be creative and do not imagine that the only way to be successful is through your certificate.”
Enjoining the students further, Adeoye said, “Your certificate has two pages; the front and the back. The front is where the institution writes your name and the back is blank. This means you need to write your own profile and it means you are just starting.”
He also enjoined them to be active and participate in students’ activism in order to fight good courses on the campus. “Do not believe in the wrong notion that activism is for rascals. Do not forget that what the government does affects your future and you must show interest in righting the ills of the society.
“The essence of going to school is to acquire knowledge to right the wrongs in the society and you can’t do that by keeping quiet, you cannot fight your battle alone and that is why you need to form networks.”
In his own words, Director of the International Press Centre, Mr. Lanre Arogundade told the students to be ready to take up responsibilities since they are the leaders of tomorrow.
Allaying the fears of students on possible victimisation as a result of ctivism in pushing for their rights and due process on the campus, the former Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Lagos Chapter said, “You must be ready. I spent five years in the University for a four-year course because of my roles in students activism. You must be ready to sacrifice. My fifth year was as a result of my being the National President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), that was a form of sacrifice.”
Arogundade did not hide the fact that things were not as difficult in the 80s when he attended the University of Ife. “Things were easy in our days, your meals were nothing to worry about. Meals were at N50k and it came with ice cream and chicken. It was also easy to mobilise students in those days. The authority would always say there is no money but students must have information and be able to ask questions.”
Another speaker at the event, Mr. Tomi Olagunju also enjoined the students to engage the electoral process to effect change and position for the future.
Encouraging the students further, Olagunju, a lawyer and activist said, “People below the age of 35 represent 60% of the entire voting population in Nigeria and if the youths would vote for the youth, they would win.
“You can engage the electoral process and strengthen democracy. Through the instrumentality of the social media the youths were able to address the brutality of SARS and they won. This means the youths have a tremendous power in their number but they must be enlightened and well mobilized,” he said.
Pushing further, Olagunju asked how many students are interested in the way and manner their schools are run. “How many students know the budgetary allocation of their schools in 2018 budget? This is a way to participate in the political process, not only by voting.”
In his own submission, anchor of the event, Mr. Ayo Aluko-Olukun however enjoined the students to stay abreast of events in their immediate environment, the higher institutions. “We must have the spirit that will resist things not going right in the country.”
He however observed that the long years of military rule in Nigeria has its impact on the psyche of the people up till today and things must change. “The long years of military rule and successive failures in the government is responsible for the dosile nature of Nigerians which would not allow them to address issues confronting them but things are changing,” he added.
The students were however encouraged by the IPC to make themselves available for future engagements by the organisation and prepare to participate in the upcoming electoral process.