A Senior Advocate Of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana has described the current leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) as a mouthpiece of the government, saying they have strayed from the motive of establishing the union.

Falana noted that the student leaders ought to realise that NANS were not up to defend governments but to fight for the students.

He spoke on Wednesday as the guest speaker at the 3rd anniversary and maiden edition of Comrade Yinka Odumakin’s Inter-Faculty Debate Prize and Public Lecture.

The event was organised by the Student Union of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State.

Falana, represented by a lecturer in the University, Professor Wumi Raji, spoke on “The Role Of Students In Nation Building”, noting that, unlike the time of Odumakin, the Student leadership now defends the politicians as against what they were there for.

He said “In recent times, NANS leadership have become a mouthpiece of reactionary governments. It has joined the Federal Government to fight ASUU and NLC.

“Permit me to cite two instances. During the ASUU strike of 2022, NANS raised the alarm that the incessant strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) was no longer in the interest of tertiary education but “an act of educational terrorism economic sabotage.

“On February 16, 2024, the NLC announced a 2-day nationwide protest against hardship facing Nigerians as a result of the removal of fuel subsidy, NANS claimed to have backed out of the protest even though it was not involved in planning the protest.

“As if that was not enough, NANS stated the looming threat of strike poses a significant risk of further exacerbating the economic challenges facing the nation and disrupting the lives of ordinary citizens, including students.

“The current crop of student leaders ought to realise that NANS was not up to defend governments but Nigerian students.”

He urged NANS to defend the interests of Nigerian students at home and abroad.

“Henceforth, NANS should prosecute and defend the interest of Nigeria students at home and abroad.

“NANS should take up the case of the two students who lost their lives in a stampede which occurred at the Nassarawa State University during the distribution of bags of rice. NANS should campaign against the abduction of students and payment of ransom.”

Earlier, the wife of the deceased, Mrs Joe Odumakin, said the only way to remember the activist is to imbibe the virtues that he lived and died for.

She said, “Today, we remember Yinka three years after and the only befitting memorial is to imbibe all the ideals that he lives and died for.

“What we do for ourselves dies with us but what we do for others and the world lives. Today, as we remember this great comrade, let us continue to imbibe the virtues that he lived and died for.

“Let’s remain incorruptible. If you see an injustice or anything going wrong, you must rise against it. I want to salute everyone who takes their time to come here today.”

Others who spoke at the event include, ace broadcaster, Edmond Obilo; Senior legal adviser to the Attorney General of Osun State, Depo Oladele, Barrister Femi Aborisade while the Dean of Student Affairs of the University, Professor John Odedire represented the Vice Chancellor of the University.

The Faculty of Law of the University came first in the debate titled, Nation Building: Should Activists Consider a Career in Politics and went home with a cash of N200,000.

Faculty of Agric and Faculty of Art came second and third respectively with a take home of N100,000 and N50,0000.

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