Historical Background


  1. Right from the colonial era, Students’ Movement has always been part and parcel of social economic and political transformation of our society. From colonial post later known as Nigeria to the present neo-colonial state with all its neoliberal economic policies that stifle growth, that kill talent and that arrest development, Students’ Union and other progressive forces have been taken radical position on issues that affect the collective welfare of our people.


  1. At this juncture it is apposite to make this historical clarification, that at the foundation level of the Students’/Youths’ Movement in colonial Nigeria; we had two ideological persuasions competing for the political space. We had a radial persuasion that took an uncompromising radical position against the colonial imposters and equally we had a conservative persuasion that took a compromising position at a time of our social political trajectory.


  1. The historical background of the Movement, was put in a proper perspective by Omotaye Olorode when he logically analysed thus:


There were two tendencies in the nationalist movement. From around the 1940s, one tendency that arose was anti-colonial (expressed in the King’s College agitation, the 1945 workers’ strike, the Iva Valley agitation (1949) etc.


The second tendency was to adapt to colonial exploitation. This tendency, with a part of the NYM (Nigeria Youth Movement) in it, sought to take advantage of colonial rule to partake in private accumulation. This was the origin of the regionalist and ethno-nationalist politics in Nigeria. They were modes of adaptation, for advantage, by a segment of the elite to a colonial exploitation1.





  1. Omotoye Olorode – Power Politics in Yorubaland (Ni’bo l’a nlo): Pluralities in a Neo-colony



  1. In content and character, the radical philosophy of forming the Ilobu National Students’ Union in 1991 was never in doubt. It is my considered view that the privileged founders meticulously chose the persuasion they would align the union with. This radical philosophy was re-echoed by Rufai, when he stated thus:


The “Great Struggle” was quite an event to put it mildly. It called into play immense intelligence, strategic planning and tenacity of purpose, characteristic of achievers. Most importantly, I hope both the current and the future leaders of INSU will take advantage of the past leaders in the struggle against exploitation, injustice and oppression in addition to the primary task of INSU to encourage learning especially among the youth in the spirit of QUEST FOR BETTER MORROW2.


  1. It is unambiguously clear from the beginning that our union is not a political appendage of any political tendency no matter how powerful the political tendency is/was. That our union is not a front for any political tendency no matter how powerful the political tendency is/was. This position was emphasised by Alabi when he stated thus:


The idea of forming a students’ union was borne out of our desire to have s well established forum that will serve as the Vanguard of our opinion, Champion of our cause, Guardian of our interest and the Tribune upon which we can stand to tell whoever cares to listen to our views on  contemporary issues…


The union was not just formed to bloat the existing catalogue of unions and clubs in the town, but to bring the student populace to the fore and form a progressive and adaptable medium – which, we believe is an essential plank on which to construct our society on a durable basis. We have realized the daily challenges as an independent union to revamp the ever retrogressive social- political and educational situation of Ilobu3.



  1. Abdul- Ramon Kolawole Rufai – in The Builder: A Graphic Account of an Emeritus President by Oluwole Alabi
  2. Ibid 2


Having regard to the above views from Rufai and Alabi, it is save to conclude that INSU was established as a radial and progressive union to struggle against exploitation, injustice and oppression. And this is not far from the ideological content of the Nigerian Students’ Charter of Demands and Constitution which states in its preamble thus:


Determined to engage our members in the National Scheme of Social Progress aimed at the total mobilisation of the Nigerian people towards realising national ideals and to oppose at all times and in all places any form of exploitation, discrimination and oppression amongst the peoples of the world and to work for the realisation of world peace and total disarmament4



  1. In pursuing welfare needs for the greatest number of the people, Students’ Movement had performed creditability in different eras. The resistance of the Students’ Movement to oppressive policies was basically a natural response to the policy of the government. For Kenule Benson Saro-Wiwa was of the view that:


…mass-based discipline organisation can successfully revitalise moribund societies and that relying on their ancient values….such societies can successfully and peacefully change tyrannical government5.


Nigerian students have never abdicated their historical responsibilities in fighting exploitation, oppression, commercialisation and privatisation of education right from the period of West African Students’ Union (WASU).


  1. Having laid an ideological foundation right from the Anglo-Nigerian Defence…..struggle of 1962, the leadership National Union of Nigerian Students’ later known as National Association of Nigerian Students’ (NANS) have waged unceasing battles against military dictatorships and civilian repressions.





  1. Nigerian Students Charter of Demands and Constitution
  2. Kenule Benson Saro-Wiwa – in Ogoni Civil Disturbances Tribunal in May 18, 1995.




For the purpose of emphasis NUNS/NAN’S leaderships had successfully waged struggled against the post colonial state called Nigeria as tabulated below6:


1.1971/72Stalemate in leadership (Awodi from Unical)NUNSApanpa crisis at UI, death of Kunle Adepeju
2.1972/73Banji AdegboroNUNSNYSC Programme remuneration for the corpers.
3.1973/75Maduka A.NUNSProtest against political, economic and social issues; termination of the Gowon regime.
4.1977/78Segun OkeowoNUNS (NUNS banned) +Protest against threefold increase in fees; Ali-Must-Go; operation 3 Cs.
5.1978/81Transition from (NUNS) to NANS +NANSProtest against commercialisation of education continued.
6.1981/82Chris MammamNANSProtest against commercialisation of education continued.
7.1982/83Chris AbashiNANSProtest against commercialisation of education continued
8.1984/85Lanre ArogundadeNANSWar against commercialisation of education continued
9.1986/87Emma EzeazuNANSNANS Charter of demands political, economic, cultural, civil and social issues.
10.1988/89Salihu LukemanNANSAnti Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) protest
11.1989/90Opeyemi BamideleNANSProtest against WB and IMF, conditionalities for $120m loan to the Universities
12.1991/92Mahmud Abdul AminuNANSProtest against WB and IMF, conditionalities for $120m loan to the Universities
13.1992/93Segun MaiyegunNANSCampaign for Academic Reform (ACAREF)
14.1993/94Mallam Nasiru KuraNANSCampaign for Academic Reform (ACAREF)
15.1995/96Miss Comfort IdikaNANSCampaign for Academic Reform (ACAREF)
16.1996/97Ropo EwenlaNANSProtest against full blown commercialisation


Although the historical struggles organised by the students’ had casualties as repressive regimes responded with maximum force by using the instrument of the state, banning of the union viat Students’ Union Activities (Control and Regulation) Decree of 7 of 19897, detention of students, closure of the higher institution of learning, sacking of teachers for teaching students what they were not paid to teach, enticement, divide and rule tactics and most unpleasantly murdering of innocent students Kunle Adepeju of University of Ibadan in 1972 of this  world and Olamilekan Laketu of Obafemi Awolowo University in 2004 of this world. May their spirit continue to taunt our oppressors.


  1. Some university administrators who were/are lackeys of the government engaged fellow disgruntled students with the support of the state to violently attack the union leaders because of their radical posture to the social economic policies of the government. The 1995 Committee for the Defence of Human Rights Annual Report is very revealing in this regard:


… the incidence of campus violence and brigandage is a part of the violence and insecurity in the Nigerian society which the negative culture of prolonged military authoritarianism has greatly promoted … Most of the perpetrators of this violence employed by tertiary institutions administrators to subvert or even destroy democratically constituted “anti-authority” students unions are the children of the affluent in the society. The worrisome aspect of the “gun and acid attacks “violence… to … advocate of independent students’ unionism is that owing to the suppression of progressive Students’ Movement and organisations whose members usually fill students’ union positions, the secret cult groups hitherto uninterested in union elections now compete with one another for the control of the students’ union.

“It is now very common for secret cult groups to disrupt students’ union elections or interfere in union activities only for the authorities to capitalise on such disruptions to proscribe the unions. Of course during the proscription period, the activities of the secret cult groups grow unchecked while the students, denied of a forum for the unorganised and violent demonstrations”8.       


Regrettably, the 1999 July 10 massacres of 1. George Yemi Iwilade 2. Eviano Ekelemo 3. Yemi Ajiteru 4. Babatunde Oke and 5. Ekpede Godfrey by cult group suspected to be Black Axe. This was the maximum communal tragedy and siege in the annals campus life in Nigeria.


  1. Following ideological clarity of Students’ Movement generally, our own Ilobu National Students’ Union had risen to different occasions as the social economic challenges were unfolded, in this regard, in no particular order of importance, our union had made historical positions to better the lot of our people when necessary in the past:


  • Our union actively propelled and mobilized our people for 1991 population census under the leadership of Isiaq Awotunde and Mukaila Olaniran;


  • The Great Struggle of September, 1993 was led by the uncompromising leadership of Oluwole Alabi


  • Protest against the annulment of June 12, 1993 Presidential Election decisively won by Bashorun MKO Abiola but criminally annulled by the General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida Junta was led by the accommodating leadership of Adejare Adebisi in 1993;


  • Operation Restore Our Light and the struggle for the reconstruction and tarring of Osogbo/Ilobu Road in 1999 was led by radical leadership of Idowu Oladapo and


  • Other popular struggles by our past and present leaders and ever conscious and dynamic followers to better the lot of our people are highly acknowledged.




  1. Nigerian Students and the Challenges of Leadership: A CDHR’S Publication
  2. Decree of 7 of 1989
  3. The 1995 Committee for the Defence of Human Rights Annual Report




  1. The students generally are part and parcel of the larger society, consequently students could not be isolated from the effect of neoliberal economic policies of the post colonial state called Nigeria. Although the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended declared Nigeria as a welfare state by virtue of the provision of Section 16 (4(c)  and (d) that provides thus:


The state shall, within the context of the ideals and objectives for which provisions are made in this Constitution:


  1. That the economic system is not operated in such a manner as to permit the concentration of wealth of the means of production and exchange in the hands of few individuals or of a group and


  1. That suitable and adequate shelter, suitable and adequate food, reasonable national minimum, living wage, old age care and pensions and unemployment, sick benefits and welfare of the disabled are provided for all citizens9.


Equally, it is important to note the pretence of the Federal Government of Nigeria when it declared in its National Policy on Education as follows:


  1. That education is a social mobilizer and a vehicle for national development;
  2. That education is the greatest investment that the nation can make for the quick development of its economic, political, sociological and human resources;
  • That pre-primary education, primary education and secondary education shall provide opportunities for the educational and moral development of all citizens as well as the tools for further educational advancement;
  1. That tertiary institutions shall provide the manpower needs for national development;
  2. That the Government’s ultimate objective is to make education free at all levels and
  3. That education is a joint responsibility of the federal, state and local governments10.



  1. The Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended
  2. National Policy on Education



  1. It is sad to note that the welfare state provided for in the Constitution is diametrically opposed to the neoliberal democratic culture that has become a religion of the ruling class across political parties. After the substitution of the civilian wing of the ruling class for the military dictatorship in 1999, there was a sharp increase and shameless commercialisation and privatisation of all the public utilities in Nigeria. NEPA was handed over to the few, communication was handed over to the few, quality education was handed over to the few, refinery was handed over to the few, maritime business was handed over to the few, aviation business was handed over to the few, Aso Rock the highest seat of power in Nigeria is now in the hands of a negligible few.


  1. The consequence of the neoliberal economic policies is mass poverty, kidnapping, non state actors, banditry, political violence, vote buying and vote selling, blatant violation of child right, out of school children, illiteracy, yahoo boys, yahoo plus, want and squalor. Below the inequitable distribution of wealth is violent reaction of the de-possessed against their oppressors.


  1. Education sector is not spared of the all mighty damaging neoliberal economic policies being worshipped by our rulers. While the public schools are consciously damaged beyond control there is mindless increase in the number of private institutions. Our rulers who are intolerant of university culture of academic freedom are now proud holders of universities. The public utilities that generated revenues for the state were sold at give away prices to members of the ruling class and their fronts. Gluttonous plundering of the resources of the state for private purposes by the political elite and turning into emergency private university holders, contractors and overnight hoteliers to protect their loots in Pandora Papers, Panama Papers and other off shore conduit pipes.


  1. It is in all these consequences of the neoliberal policies being religiously executed by indolent rulers that the Nigerian Youths and members of Ilobu National Students’ Union are trying to cope with endless strikes actions by workers, dilapidated infrastructure, unemployment, decline life expectancy, lack of basic means of livelihood, insecurity and other hellish living as against life more abundance.





  1. The fact is settled that members of this great union are the possibilities of our tomorrow. As the possibilities of our future, in quest of our better morrow, it is my considered view that the ever conscious leadership and members of our union (INSU) should urgently fill the radical leadership vacuum in our community. Our future who are coincidentally at digital age should do the following among others:


  1. Develop your intellectual capacity to conquer fear, superstition, inferiority complex and other shortcomings that may arise as a result of intellectual poverty;


  1. Develop and sharpen your political education to enable you identify the strengths and weaknesses of social economic policies of the power that be;


  • Develop and sustain the culture of protest in making legitimate demands from the relevant authorities;


  1. Utilise the law of social contract by changing the narrative of master servant to holding our rulers responsible for their action or inaction;


  1. Be a social economic change agent by engaging in positive activities and ignoring cyber crimes, political thug, political jobbery, booth leaking, slavish following of looters and their sympathizers;


  1. Exercise our power under Section 15 (5) of Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that enjoined the state to abolish all corrupt practises and abuse of power;


  • Inter tribal war or insurgency should be completely condemned as it is a diversionary tactics to demobilise you from facing and fighting your common enemy, the oppressive ruling class;


  • Collaboration with other patriotic youths and students organisations in forming a joint taskforce in compelling our rulers to enforce the welfarist state as entrenched in the Fundamental objectives and directive principles of the Nigerian state;


  1. Declare a state of emergency on all our public infrastructure in this clime by deploring your digital savvy as a weapon of protest to get positive results;


  1. Engage our political rulers in debate and politely educate them that avarice is perishable while social service to humanity is imperishable;


  1. Expand your worldview and define your role in the journey of life by making your positive impute to have a better society;


  • Deplore your digital skills to ask questions about our budget and execution of projects;


  • Urgently use your platform to identify all abandoned government projects in our domain and demand for their immediate completion;


  • Monitoring of projects awarded by the government to ensure their fitness in order to prevent a likely disaster arising from substandard projects executed by greedy contractors and their masters


  1. Communicate with the relevant authorities about the political marginalization of Ilobu and its effect on revenue and project politics;


  • Maintain a political neutrality as stipulated in NANS Charter of Demands and


  • Organise, organise and organise.


  1. In executing some or all of the above principled and historical duties, Great Nigerian Students, have it as a belief that men and women of courage and character are with you and will protect you from blackmail, harassment, intimidation and victimization of the state in line with the Supreme Court decision in Garba V. University of Maiduguri where Obaseki JSE (as he then was) stated the law thus:


A university student is a priceless asset and as he is on the threshold of useful service to the nation, we cannot afford to destroy him by stigmatizing him with offences unless proved guilty before a court11


  1. “Awa ko mo gbo do duro o, ti a ko ba ti bori gbogbo oke-isoro wa o” _ D. O. Fagunwa Ogbju12




Ode ni inu igbo irunmole


I thank you all.



  1. Garba V. University of Maiduguri where Obaseki JSE (as he then was)
  2. O. Fagunwa Ogbju – “Awa ko mo gbo do duro o, ti a ko ba ti bori gbogbo oke-isoro wa o”


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