Comrade Dauda Mohammed a final year student of the University of Jos, North Central Nigeria also the president of the National Association of Nigerian Students (Nans). Popularly called Comrade Capone by his friends, the young student advocate is currently studying psycology and has contributed immensely to the Nigerian student movement for over two decades.
Almost three months after the #Occupy Nigeria protest over the Federal government decision to increase the pump price of the petrol motor spirit (PMS), the president of the National Association of the Nigerian Students (NANS) speaks with Abang Mercy in an Exclusive Interview
Since assumptions of office, are they issues in contention in the court owning to the fact that NANS elections are lways in contention.
There are no issues in the court, the elections that brought me in Bayelsa was free and transparent election, i had all the factional NANS Presidents in attendance, of course it was a unity convention . There was no dispute concerning the elections whats so ever
All the other contestants congratulated me except the person that came third with 36 votes, i had 93 votes and the runner-up had 45 votes, the third person had 36 votes and he is the one going around now trying to impersonate me but outside that, there is no any case in court.
Q: With his impersonation, will you agree that they’re two factional NANS now?
No faction, no faction at all, there is no faction, I was with the Minister of Education the other day and she attested to the fact that there is no anything as a faction because why i am saying this, the director of SSS advised us at our unity convention in Bayelsa, we were all made to go to court, swore to an affidavit , all the aspirants went to court, swore to an affidavit that we were going to abide by the process of the convention in Bayelsa, every aspirant did. We signed an undertaken with the SSS in Abuja, there in Bayelsa we still signed an undertaken. The director of SSS in Bayelsa was practically on ground throughout the election to monitor it, so there is nothing like faction. I am the President of NANS no any other faction.
Will you say your leadership has been representative of the Nigerian Student.
By the Grace of God, i am enjoying the collective mandate of the nigerian students because the SSS were there and the process was open like i said ealier , so that is it .
What are the student issues you have addressed since assumption of office:
By Gods grace like i said, the covenant i had is to reposition the student movement in the country just like it is obtainable in other places, gone are the days where Nigerian students will be seen as gangstars. And that is what we have been doing, where there are issues, in the case of unilag and other places we have been there to resolve issues amicably without making noise or barricading roads. We went to their management and issues are being resolved. We have resolved the issues maturely.
In January, some Nigerians were on the streets protesting against the fuel subsidy Hike and NANS was not part of the protest tagged #occupynigeria, why were you not part of the protest?
I did not join the protest one basically because, before that time, we were consulted, the organisation was consulted and we keyed into the vision like every other organisation. The Nigerian Labour Congress were there, youth council were there and every other organisation were there at the villa to deliberate on when the subsidy removal should take effect and everybody, nobody at that point in time kicked against it, nobody kicked against it, people were saying it was inevitable. By the time it was removed in January, one thing i want us to understand, all the stakeholders that went there believed that the subsidy based on the submission should be removed but when people were kicking against it instead of the believe that the President did not keep to the agreement of his promise by removing the subsidy in January, that was just their own decision. But every other person there believed the subsidy was inevitable .
I did not join one because all the agitation was to defend their own organisation . As the President of NANS equally, whatever palliative that is coming from the subsidy should be channelled into the educational sector.
My deal included the following -that the 36 percent UNESCO recommendation should be obtained and they should not in any way increase tuition fees on campuses; that was my recommendation to them .
Were you paid money not to be part of the protest?
Nobody gave me, let me make this on record, i am challenging anybody that has anything contrary, that nobody gave me any penny. I did not take any kobo from anybody. Nobody gave me any money. I am 100 percent sure that nobody gave me money.
Nigerians are gearing up for #occupynigeria II, based on the fuel subsidy scam report by the Farouk Lawan led committee. Will you be a part of the protest?
Well based on what we had entrusted government to do, we have not seen anything to show for it , and things are not properly done as promised so we have to be a part of the protest.
Will NANS be on the street to protest?
Why not, we will get on the street to protest as well.
Young Nigerians believe NANS has failed as an organistation. Do you agree?
Well people are entitled to their own opinion depending on the angle they are looking at it from, but i am a human being and a student from the university of Jos and i have my students to contend with. I am still in school, as i am talking to you, i am preparing for my exams, so if they say that NANS has failed, i dont know if they are talking from my inability to join Occupy Nigeria protest. If from the onset, people did not agree to the timing, that is what people were saying the timing its January and that is why people were protesting and from the onset, we were consulted and people did not say no to it, if they had, i would have followed suite. People were saying all sort of things I recieved no kobo from anybody at the end what happened they were eventually caved in. So if they say NANS have failed, i wont argue -education sector is my priority.
Did you believe government when they said, there will be accountable with the subsidy funds??
That is the iussue that everybody has been on, TRUST because several governments have made such promises in the past and they have not been able to keep to such promises. So you are asking me if i trust the government ? so we gave them benefits of doubt let them prove themselve right.
Insecurity Challenges, have affected Nigerian students in most states. What is your opinion?
It is worrisome, just like it is condemnable, i have said it several times and I keep maintaining that the federal government as a matter of urgency, should convey a national summit where all stakeholders will sit down and discuss the issues concerning security, they will look at the issues so that they can be able to address such issues. The insecurity in the country is of a major concern, it is affecting our economy, so the federal government should be proactive interms of security.
Tell us about the position of NANS Concerning the UniAbuja Engineering and Medical Strudent crisis…
Incidentally, the day that protest was led, i was there and i was called to the minister’s office and after the whole thing, 20 delegates were asked to go upstairs to the minister’s office and i was there and the Minister of Education made two options available that since there are no facilities, that 300 level students at the University of Abuja should either choose another school so they can complete or they can wait in six months as the Vice Chancellor has said he was going to put all the facilities and make them available.
Which of the options did you choose?
We all agreed that either they’re transferred to another school so they can go and complete their studies fully or the vice chancellor put in place the facilities. But the vice chancellor promised that in six months time all the facilities will be in place and the issues will be resolved fully. The minister and the students both agree on that and i was there.
How would you describe the state of the Nigerian Educational system?
Ofcourse the standard of Education in Nigeria is not in order and we all know that and we have called on the Federal government to give the educational system an uplift by attending to the burden. To answer your question, the standard of education in this country is nothing to write home about.
What is your message for Nigerian students?
My message for Nigerian students is to remain calm and be focused…lets know the essence of us being students, is primarily for us to get our certificates…for us to be focused and be positive.
Article first published on http://citizensplatform.net/