NANS 2016 CONVENTION – MATTERS ARISING … By Osioni Obokparo That the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) enjoys a symbiotic relationship with display of hooliganism and thuggery at every convention ground is not new. What is disheartening is the non commitment, on the part of stakeholders, students and student leaders, to wipe out this menace from the lexicon of our students representation.
The NANS 2016 Convention, which was holding in Gombe State, has ended in a deadlock due to the breakdown of law and order in the rank and file of the participants at the convention.
Report has it that all hell broke lose when the Convention Chairman (the umpire for the election process) was elected. The Convention Chairman, having allegedly served as the Campaign Manager for one of the Presidential aspirant emerged as the umpire for the exercise. The other leading presidential aspirant cried foul, alleging that with such personality emerging as the umpire for the election, there is no way he won’t be biased towards the preferred presidential candidate he campaigned for. It was on that note that all caution was thrown to the wind, fracas broke out, guns, matchetes and other dangerous weapons were allegedly being brandished by thugs sympathetic to one of the leading presidential aspirant, thus disrupting the process as nominations for the presidential post was about to commence. The rest, as we all know, is now history.
Resources – spiritual, personal, financial, metaphysical and time, expended by every aspirants, students, stakeholders and the government for the Gombe State convention has now gone down the drain. It doesn’t take rocket science to know that Gombe State – the venue of the convention, is a very far location to the majority of institutions. The lengthy distance, risky trip, waste of finances, time and resources is mind blowing.
The betting odds on the NANS 2016 Convention being hitch free was closer to 0! But that no elective post would be conducted at all is unprecedented, at least, to my knowledge!
As it stands now, the outgoing (outgone) NANS National Officials and the Convention Planning Committee (CPC) stand dissolved!
What it implies is that our dear association, NANS, as at today, has no elected representative at the National level. All students interest are now vested in the respective zonal structures, state structures and individual institutions.
Our association needs a proper restructuring – from the composition of the CPC to the eligibility of the aspirants, we need a comprehensive overhaul of the NANS Electoral process.
1 – CPC MEMBERSHIP
The number one criteria for CPC membership MUST be studentship.
If members of the CPC are non-students, what moral justification they do have to screen out a non-student from contesting?
A system MUST be put in place to ensure that all CPC members are students of any tertiary institution in Nigeria.
The current illegal practice whereby every outgoing NANS President compiles the list of CPC members is constitutionally wrong, questionable and open to bias.
I’ll quote some section of the NANS Constitution and Charter of Demands to substantiate my positions.
COMMITTEE AND COMMISSIONS
(A) “NANS Congress shall establish committees and commissions (standing or ad-hoc) when deemed necessary. It shall also appoint the members of such comittees and commissions.”
The NANS President does not have the right to usurp the duties and powers of the NANS Congress.
The CPC is like every other committee or commission of NANS. It is to be constituted by the NANS Congress only and not by the NANS President and his executives.
If a compromise is to be reached, a more workable solution would be the formation of the CPC that is open to nomination from respective NANS JCC (state structures) via the NANS Zonal structures. The current ‘tradition’ where the incumbent NANS President and his cohorts handpicks each CPC member to represent a state will always be lopsided.
2 – ASPIRANTS
I find it appalling that at this age and time, we are still debating if an aspirant contesting to hold a position as an executive/official of an association named: the “NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIAN STUDENTS (NANS)” should be a student or not.
Can you become a NLC executive without being a labour member?
Can you become an ASUU official without being a lecturer?
Can you become NURTW official without being a driver?
Can you become the Governors’ Forum Chairman without being a governor?
Can you become the SUG President of an institution without being a student of such institution?
If the answers to the above questions are in the negative, then how do you justify being a NANS official without being a student?
The NANS Constitution and Charter of Demands is very clear on the studentships of anybody aspiring to hold any elective position in NANS.
ELIGIBILITY TO HOLD EXECUTIVE POST
(A) “(I) Any active student from any of Nigeria institution of higher learning whose virile membership of NANS is not in doubt will be eligible to hold an EXCO post in NANS. Should an aspirant hold any executive post in his institution, he shall compulsorily have to relinquish that institution Executive post for National assignment of NANS.
(II) He has to unambiguously satisfy the Electoral laws as stipulated by electoral commission established under this constitution.
(III) Only student from autonomous members unions that have fulfilled their financial obligation to NANS as provided in Article 33(a) are qualified to contest.”
From the above section of the NANS Constitution, it is obvious that the number one and perhaps most sacrosanct criteria to contest for any NANS post MUST be studentship!
Intellectual prowess, exemplary oratory skills, intimidating experience etc CAN NOT be a substitute for not being a student.
3 – CONVENTION CHAIRMAN
The Convention Chairman MUST also be a student.
A system should be put in place to ensure that the convention chairman MUST be unbiased with no (known) affiliation to any of the aspirants. You can’t go around campaigning for aspirant “A” only for you to aspire to become the umpire in the same election. It’s similar to the INEC boss being a “chief campaigner” for a political party!
4 – NANS YEAR
“NANS Year shall be from the end of one convention to the end of the next convention.”
The above section of the NANS Constitution and Charter of Demand is what successive regimes have been hiding under to elongate their stay in office beyond 12 months. The truth is that, these successive past regimes have not violated this particular constitutional provision.
The implication of the above section of the NANS constitution is that a regime could be in office for as long the “the end of one convention to the end of another convention”. It could take 6-month, 12-month, 18-month or 24-month for that period to elapse.
The authors of the NANS Constitution and Charter of Demands in their wisdom, answered any question that may arise from the interpretation of “the end of one convention to the the end of another convention” by stating emphatically in the article below that each convention shall be annually:
(B) THE CONVENING AUTHORITY
(I) “NANS Senate shall at all their last meeting fix the date of the next annual convention. No other organ of NANS shall appropriate to itself the duty of convening the convention other than NANS Senate.
(II) The annual convention shall be held every year between the months of November and December.”
It is from this section that we are made aware that it is constitutionally wrong for any regime to stay beyond 12-month in office.
The overstay in office of a regime usually contributes immensely to the palpable tension and boiling hostility in the rank and file of the Nigerian Students’ movement.
We need a constitutional amendment to clearly define the duration of the “NANS Year” in terms of months thereby ensuring that the convention is done annually, thus preventing instances where NANS officials hide under “ARTICLE 33: NANS YEAR”, to stay beyond 12 months in office.
There are a million things wrong with our association. I think we will be doing ourselves a world of good by correcting these ills by starting with the NANS Electoral Reforms.
If the politicians are messing up the national political landscape, we, as students, should tidy up our students’ fold in preparation for bigger role in the society.
It beats my imagination how student leaders who had previously held the very topmost positions in NANS keep fighting to become members of the CPC!
Why not leave the students’ fold and move on to become LG Chairmen, HOA members, HOR members etc?
There’s something fundamentally wrong with our system.
• CONSTITUTIONAL IMPASSE
In lieu of the disruption of the NANS 2016 Convention, who shall convey the convention (it can’t be a Senate Meeting) for the election of NANS officials?
FUNCTIONS OF THE CHAIRMAN OF THE CONGRESS
(E) “The tenure of the office of the chairman of congress shall be for the duration of the convention for which he was elected.”
From the above section, fellow Nigerian students, we are all at the whims and capricious benevolence of the Convention Chairman as the convention he was elected to chair has technically not elapsed.
Then that takes us to this section:
(B) THE CONVENING AUTHORITY
(I) “NANS Senate shall at all their last meeting fix the date of the next annual convention. No other organ of NANS shall appropriate to itself the duty of convening the convention other than NANS Senate.”
No other organ of NANS has the power to convey a convention other than the NANS Senate.
But the NANS Senate leadership (Senate President, Deputy Senate President and Clerk) has been dissolved. Now, who will convey the convention on behalf of the NANS Senate?
Technically, the Convention Chairman calling the next convention is open to debate!
LONG LIVE THE NIGERIAN STUDENTS’ MOVEMENT!