The Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi has charged the newly elected President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Comrade Sunday Asefon, and the new executives to focus more on championing causes that will improve the standard of education and welfare of students in tertiary institutions and not be distracted by other sundry interests.
The Governor gave the charge on Tuesday evening when he received the newly elected President, members of executive Council and other stakeholders of NANS across the country at the Governor’s Office, Ado Ekiti.
Dr Fayemi asked Asefon to consider his responsibility to the students as a priority and strife hard to make a significant difference in the lives of young people in the country by fulfilling the mission and serving the interest of Nigerian Students.
The Governor who also pointed out the need to rebrand the image of NANS from being perceived as an avenue to achieve selfish aggrandizement, said he was optimistic that the new President would conduct himself properly in such a way that posterity would be kind to him.
He said: “NANS’ image needs to be rebranded, so that NANS is not seen as that opportunistic vehicle for other agenda rather than the Students agenda and that is why I am glad that the President highlighted things that are specific about students.
“That should be the number one priority. Of course there will always be collateral issues that would come about deepening our democracy, about strengthening the nationhood but number one issue is improving the quality and standard of our students in tertiary institutions.
“It is your generation, I believe you will fulfil the mission that has been put in your hands, you will not betray it, you will serve the interest of Students and will challenge and speak truth to power where necessary.”
Responding to the request made by the NANS leadership to NGF to intervene in the nine months strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Dr. Fayemi disclosed that the Governors in the country are committed to ensuring that ASUU and the Federal Government meet the deadline of returning students to school before the end of the year.
The NGF Chairman said the governors were passionate about the need to re-open the universities, adding that the governors have been intervening in bringing the lecturers and the Federal Government together even after they had gone apart in their negotiation.
“We will still get them to meet the deadline of returning students to school before the end of the year because it is our collective interest not in your interest as Students but our interest as governors and leaders of our people because there is a direct correlation between idleness on one hand and nefarious activities on the other hand.”
Dr Fayemi also stressed the need for NANS to prioritize and strengthen its Secretariat by setting up a policy and advocacy research centre that would enable it to independently gather data and verify information on issues of concern to the body in order to drive it’s negotiation ability with people in power.
The Ekiti State Governor advised that the NANS secretariat should have a directorate for research and policy that would serve as an empowered, informed and strong back up for the students’ body.
The Governor who said he was impressed by the way other contestants accompanied Asefon to Ekiti in presenting his letter of appreciation, implored the Stakeholders at the meeting to continue to stay together and demonstrate that a new and better Nigeria that brings every tribe, religion and ethnic together is possible.
He further charged the NANS’ President to be sure of reflecting the national character of the students’ body to avoid losing all the supports he garnered from different parts of the country.
On the need to secure campuses across the country, Dr Fayemi urged young people, whom he described as source of intelligence, to be willing to join the move to collectively tackle the menace of insecurity ravaging the country.
Earlier, Comrade Asefon had complained about the annual reduction in the national budget for education. urged Governor Fayemi to use the platform of the NGF to appeal to the Minister of Education, Minister of Labour and ASUU to conclude negotiation so that students would resume school before the end of the year.
The NANS President while disclosing plan of his Association to visit Katsina on the recent adoption of Secondary School Students from Kankara, raised the need to ensure maximum security within and around campuses in the Country.
The event was attended by the Secretary to the State Government, Hon Biodun Oyebanji; the state Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development, Mr Michael Awopetu; the Special Adviser on Federal Matters, Mr Makinde Araoye; the Special Adviser on Public Procurement, Mr O’seun Odewale and other government officials.