The higher institution of learning, being, a complex society of adults with different backgrounds and diverse orientations, requires an organization of students as well as their goals and desires, needs and other issues bordering around their collective welfare as undergraduates. To lend a voice to all such needs, a recognized body of students which is commonly known as Students Union becomes a necessity.
Going by canonical expectations, Students Unions ought to be the mouthpieces of students serving as intermediaries between school administrative sectors and the students ensuring that the plight and demands of students are articulately communicated to the school management in order to ensure the ultimate adequate welfarism of the student community. Students Unions are not limited to respective tertiary institutions. They, as a matter of fact, are found at zonal and national levels with the sole aim of improving the lives of undergraduates nationwide.
It is however appalling that Students Unions in the contemporary Nigerian institutions have derailed from their founding goals and have turned agents of inimicality to the students whose lives as undergraduates they ought to make better. Oftentimes, the problems that rock Students Unions in Nigeria are associated with leadership and power tussle. The comeuppances are often gross and are acted out in several ways which include the following:
- TRUNCATING THE ACADEMIC CALENDAR
While it should naturally behove Students Unions to aid smooth operational school calendar in conjunction with the school management, it is rather ironical that several Nigerian schools have been repeatedly closed down for long months due to unrest orchestrated by Students Unions. To think that decisions often taken by the leadership of Students Unions are in the long run not in favour of students whose cause they claim to fight is both worrisome and laughable.
- CULTISM AND UNHEALTHY POLITICAL ANTAGONISM
Suffice it to say that Students Unionism is a microcosm of the political gambling which characterizes the larger society. In several tertiary institutions of learning, the desperation that goes with election into offices at the level of Students Union is often heated and bitter, to put it mildly. Overtime, there have been recurrent cases of killings and cultist attacks connected to tussles over one political post or the other. Quite surprisingly, the Students Unions which should agitate and stand for Students’ wellbeing, safety and security becomes the altar on which lives of students are sacrificed and several others maimed or left in perpetual terror.
- STUDENTS EXPLOITATION
As the popular quote goes, power corrupts while absolute power corrupts absolutely. As if the dangers bordering around the election into posts in the Students Unions are not enough, some greedy students with the misinformed aim of getting into such offices to enrich their pockets, ameliorate their poverty and elevate their socioeconomic status do so at students’ peril. This explains why there are constant reported cases of students abuse, embezzlement of union funds, mismanagement of union resources, budget padding and several other ignominious acts perpetrated by such enemies of the students who parade themselves as students leaders, thereby making life unbearable for undergraduates.
Matter-of-factly, the dangers of Students unions are manifested in many ways than discussed here. On several Nigerian campuses, the Students Unions have suffered proscription for their excesses and rightly so. While it is not in the interest of students to proscribe Students’ Unions, it is advisable that Students Unions leaders should rather be students-oriented and aim at providing assistance to students and fight for their rights and freedom in cases of infringement on such rights by the management or any other sector in the school community.