Special Report: Knocks, condemnations as corruption ravages student unions in Nigerian institutions
NEWS DIGEST – Popularly referred to as SUG, Students Union Government were established in various institutions of higher learning in Nigeria to Influence school management’s policy, promote unity, orderliness and smooth relationship between students, school authorities and the state or federal government.
Reverse as being the case in the past few months as student union leaders of some institutions in Nigeria are involved in embezzlement of students fund entrusted in their leadership.
On Sept 5, 2017, a fisticuffs ensued between the OAU students union vice president, Jacob Tosin, and Adedayo Afolabi, the Director of Social over the backlog fund of 3.8million naira released to them on August 31st 2017 by the school authority. The fight incurred both parties headbutting and cut on body parts.
Prior to this was a news that stemmed major news papers in Nigeria on the alleged scandal by the same Administration led by Oyekan ibunkun over 2.5 million naira 14-seater Toyota Hiace bus which members of his executive council disagreed, putting the price at N2.9million.
This maladministration and uncoordinated measures of spending prospective students union fund made on 6th day of November 2017, the proclaimation of proscription of the varsity’s students’ union government. The school has till date has no body influencing the school management policies for the students.
On October 30th 2017, The cable reported that The Student Union President of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Joshua Ezeja was impeached for allegedly looting N4 million from the Union’s account.
Ezeja was impeached alongside two members of his cabinet, the vice president and director of transport.
The president was said to be making withdrawals from the SUG account without the endorsement of the Students Union representative council. He was said to have used the money for trips and some activities but he didn’t do it officially because he didn’t follow due process.
He was impeached by the Students Union representative council on the grounds of being Guilty of financial misappropriation, commercialization of union properties without the consent of the house, crass negligence and ineptitude.
On the same vein, on the 22nd of April 2018, The Student Union Government of Benue State University also suspended the speaker of the union, Fanen Anjie for allegedly misappropriating N2.2m.
The development has led to the suspension of the Speaker and the clerk.
Anje was allegedly exposed when five members of the parliament were suspicious about the total money released and approached the Dean of Students’ Affairs (DSA) to find out the exact money approved by the management.
The Dean according to reports told the curious members that N2.29 million was released for the projects, with each department expected to get N80,000 which Anje gave #50,000.
Down the year, on August 3rd 2018, Two Nigerian south west Universities’ Students’ union Government leadership were also found in news for collegiate embezzlement and misappropriation of union fund.
On this day, The Students’ Union President of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Ayobami Popoola, was suspended for two weeks over an alleged misappropriation of N612,000.
According to the Clerk, Taiwo Ola, the President loaned the Vice President N50,000; the General Secretary borrowed N90,000; the Assistant General Secretary was also loaned N45,000; the Welfare Director borrowed N70,000; Sports Director collected N30,000 and Director of Finance also borrowed N70,000 while other three members of the union were loaned N84,000. This brought the total amount of money loaned out from the union purse to N439,000.
News Digest also gathered that Other misappropriated funds were said to be for refreshments, world cup subscription and purchase of unapproved accessories which summed up to N173,000.
The authorities of the Abraham Adesanya Polytechnic, Ogun State, also suspended the student union public relations officer for a session and sanctioned other executives for alleged misappropriation of union funds.
In a voice Note made available to the Cable, Ibrahim lawal, the president ‘confessed’ to a group of friends that he forged the signatures of the signatories to the union’s bank account.
The signature of the General Secretary of the union, Erinle Ayomide, was forged, it was learnt. These set of students have been asked to return the mismanaged sum of N785,000.00 to the SUG account on or before July 31, 2018.
Dr Oripeloye, a lecturer from department of English and literary studies of the Obafemi Awolowo University Ile Ife, said:
“We all know that embezzlement and misappropriation of union fund is not right and bad representation of intellectualism. Unfortunately, the unionism we have now is different from what Students Unionism used to be. But if you also look at it holistically judging from the society, you will realize that it’s the carryover of what is happening in the larger society. Out there, politicians and everybody is corrupt and the bandwagons are seen in our students here. So what they do as soon as they get to office is to get what they have spent on campaign as you will see them during the campaign process pasting posters, buy recharge cards for fellow students, just to assume the position just as we have out there.
He added that: “Serving the students should be a service. Then we look for Students, but now, because of all these variables (poverty, wealth accumulation) is almost in our students unionism.
“Students’ unionism should be for influencing management and struggle for emancipation for fellow students. Now it’s the struggle for their pockets. It’s very unfortunate that our students are now doing the worst. They and we lecturers suppose to be the ones correcting the odds and wrongs in the society. Telling the politicians out there that what they are doing is not right.
“But now that our own tutelage are seen doing the same thing what should we do?” he asked.
He also commented on the issue of “Not-Too-young-To-Rule-Bill” in Relations to Union Fund embezzlement and misappropriation.
He said: “There’s no problem about the bill. Is just only that we need to change this embezzlement orientation. If you want to ‘run’ fine it’s good, but I’m what purpose, for the interest of the people or your pocket? What’s the ideology, what’s the push to ‘run’. Is it the way the Today’s ‘Sarakis’ and ‘Dino’ are doing it?
If you even look at it, many of our younger boys are into fraud, Yahoo Yahoo, Yahoo plus and rituals. You see young boys killing another boy for money.
But that not we standing, we have some today them that are extraordinarily brilliant, straight forward and know what they are doing. So if eventually the push for the running is clear and ideal filled, it’s welcomed. But there must be change of orientation.
“What we have of our students Union is disheartening and head-aching. Imagine the tomorrow’s leaders are today fighting for millions belonging to the union. Where are we even going in this country,” Oladele paul, a Student of University of Ibadan lamented.
Chidoka Chinwere, a student of faculty arts Imo state university commented that “Nigerian Youths are just too young to Run for posts in the country as you can see, they are mostly in news misappropriating our collective fund. You will hear in departmental units and faculties how they being suspended by the representative councils on this same menace. I do wonder who we really offended in this country.”
Alokan Cephas, a part 4 Student of Psychology of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife commented that: “People do criticize me whenever I say youth are not ready for handling activities in Nigeria.
“Aside sentiments and also the sense of belonging, our structure is not yet mature to be handled by youths, even youths are not showing the spirit of readiness” Alokan Cephas said.