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SUG Caretaker Chairman Speaks on the State of Unijos Unionism

Updated on April 3, 2016

SUG Caretaker Chairman Speaks on the State of Unijos Unionism

The eyesore that heralded the students uprising which began on November 24, 2014, culminated in the suspension of the executive council of the Student Union Government: headed by Comrade Nok Ndu Abel. The school management, afterwards, instituted a caretaker committee on February 19, 2015, to preside over the affairs of the union. Thus, eliciting a barrage of responses from stakeholders. As Comrade Nansak Dashe gradually winds down his tenure as Caretaker Committee Chairman of the Student Union Government (SUG), Unijos Herald's correspondent Dickson C. Destiny interviews him on events that culminated in his emergence, current state of unionism and several other trending issues.

Follow the excerpts.

Can you, please, introduce yourself?

DASHE: I'm Comrade Nansak Dashe. I'm the Chairman of the S.U.G. Caretaker Committee. Currently, I'm a 500 level student of Medicine and Surgery.

How long have you been in power and what would you say are your achievements?

DASHE: I was appointed on the 19th of February 2015. That's about a year now. With respect to achievements, I've been able to bring stability. There hasn't been any form of protest or uproar from students. I think that's the most important achievement. Secondly, and very laudable as well, the drilling of a motorized borehole in Village Hostel. It was commissioned by the Vice Chancellor on the 12th of February 2016. It's the first of its kind ever undertaken by a student body in Village Hostel.

Investigation by UNIJOS HERALD revealed that students in Block B, Abuja Hostel, have been unable to use facilities such as their toilets and bathroom, due to blockage. Does the S.U.G. know about this and other problems encountered by students daily?

DASHE: Last two weeks, I went on tour at the various hostels and the Governor of Abuja Hostel intimated me of this problem. We went round together on a facility tour. Sometime last year, the problem was first brought to my notice. I complained to the Vice Chancellor and a contract was awarded for the renovation of the toilets and bathroom. Unfortunately, I think the contractors have not done a good job so far. The job is half-done. It appears to be getting worse. I noticed there's a blockage in the sewage system. The renovation was actually carried out in the interior of the facilities but that of the sewage system was not properly done.

Does the S.U.G. leadership see the Faculty Presidents as a political threat?

DASHE:- I don't think they're a threat. Faculty Presidents are under the S.U.G. The S.U.G. can decide to suspend any Faculty President where there's a case of insubordination. They may want to claim that they have a Forum of Faculty Presidents; however, it is not registered by Student Affairs. I've allowed them to function so they could act as a watchdog on the activities of the Caretaker government. Criticism is good in governance. Sometimes, I inform and seek their advice on decisions I'm about to take. Oftentimes, information isn't allowed to trickle down. Thus, giving way to the spread of rumors.

How would you react to those who say the current caretaker government is a stooge of the university management?

DASHE: I think they're naive and ignorant. I never met the Vice Chancellor before being appointed. It was based on recommendations by various stakeholders. I had just written my professional exams and was on holiday. Three persons were recommended but I was the only one that was academically qualified. It has always been a matter of articulation. I always made the university management stand on their toes. You cannot come before Professors without facts. When you come with facts, they'll listen to you. In times past, people failed to take advantage of their intellectual prowess to achieve results. You cannot stand before Professors with an ignorant mind set. They'll ridicule you. Give me an instance where management imposed a decision and I worked with it. Let me give you an instance. You should be aware that there's been a regulation of the tuition fees of all federal government-owned tertiary institutions. All university under-graduates are expected to pay 45000 but this is not going to happen. I was able to get my facts straight. The rule states that it shouldn't be above 45000 but it could be less. I had to go to the Ministry of Education in Abuja to get that. If I was a stooge, it could have passed. It is totally false. I have stood for the interest of students at all for a.

With respect to the action of management in dissolving the former excos, would you say unionism on campus is dead?

DASHE: I wouldn't say unionism is dead on campus. The past Excos were naïve in their approach. They were in the process of dialogue with the university management. They gave in their grievances and insisted that management should adhere to it before a certain date. You don't do that in dialogue. In dialogue, out of 11, you can't get 11. If you get 7 or 8, it's a good fight. You cannot expect management to shift ground on your entire request. Management also has reasons for their stand on issues. For instance, you cannot tell management to grant you financial autonomy, when an issue of financial misappropriation has been alleged against previous Excos. It would be irresponsible of a father to give his son a car. The child goes and bashes the car.

By Destiny Dickson and Daniel Achime

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