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Mr Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), on Friday, called for an immediate lift of the ban on students unions in all Nigeria universities.
He also demanded that the National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS) stop mingling with the government.
NAN reports that Falana spoke while delivering the 9th Convocation lecture of Caleb University, Imota, Lagos, titled: “Managing Freedom and Illusions of Achievement”.
He lamented that instead of producing critical thinkers, Nigerian universities had specialised in producing robots, as the lack of student unionism in public and private universities was breeding zombies.
The legal luminary noted that students and staff unions would contribute meaningfully to the search for solution to the myriad of problems confronting the country if they are allowed to operate without fear of proscription.
“Our first generation universities were citadels of learning, as they promoted ideas and encouraged students to challenge the status quo.
“It is on record that some of the best legislators in the country were former members of the students’ parliaments.
“There were progressive lecturers who spoke truth to power without harassment from the management of tertiary institutions,” he said.
According to him, there must be a deliberate policy on the part of progressive students to take the National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS) back from the government.
Falana said effort must also be made to re-position NANS to defend and protect the interest of students.
“The other day, an alumnus of a private university was charged for cultism and cyber crime, denied bail and detained in a prison for many months for criticising the facilities in his alma mater.
“Six lecturers have just been dismissed in another state university for exposing mismanagement of the funds allocated to the school.
“To cover up such corrupt practices and other iniquities, the management of the university have subjected all academic and non-academic staff to swear to an oath of secrecy,” he said.
The SAN said the laws of the land and the rules and regulations of every tertiary should be observed and respected by all and sundry.
According to him, it is only by following laid down rules that impunity and abuse of office could be fought and defeated in the society as a whole.
Falana, however, charged Nigerian graduates and youths to team up with people of like minds to engage in political activities.
He said the politics of the country should no longer be left in the hands of professional politicians who have proved themselves incapable to address the crisis of underdevelopment.
The eminent lawyer said the development of Nigeria depended on its great assets — the human beings, especially the youth, as you cannot develop a knowledge economy without huge deliberate investments in human capital in the areas of education and health.