Awoyinfa Opeoluwa, a Masters student at the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), has declared interest to run for Senate President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS).
Opeoluwa, popularly called Opiano, made the declaration via a statement made available to The Herald on Monday, October 2, 2023.
The statement reads thus, “I stand before you today to discuss a subject of crucial importance, one that will shape the destiny of our nation – the state of education in Nigeria. As a passionate advocate for education, and as a citizen who cares deeply about our future, I am deeply concerned about the challenges we face, focusing specifically on the recent school fees increment at our tertiary institutions and the disturbing incident of the kidnapping of schoolgirls at the Federal University of Gashua in Zamfara State. Moreover, I would also like to take this opportunity to declare my interest in contesting for the position of Senate President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) at the upcoming 2023 National Convention.
“Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, is a land bursting with potential. Our people are resilient, resourceful, and energetic. Yet, our education system, the very structure that should be nurturing this potential, is in a state of crisis. According to UNICEF, as of my knowledge cutoff in 2021, Nigeria is home to 10.5 million out-of-school children, the world’s highest number. The reasons are multifaceted – economic hardship, security issues, insufficient infrastructure, and a lack of qualified teachers.
“Let’s look at the northern part of our country where insecurity and cultural norms have significantly hindered education, particularly for the girl child. This is a grave issue, the repercussions of which extend far beyond academics. Denying our girls education is denying them their fundamental human rights. It also limits their ability to contribute to our nation’s growth.
Decries the abduction of female students of the Federal University Gusau, Zamfara state
“Furthermore, I would like to draw your attention to the recent kidnapping incident at the Federal University of Gashua in Zamfara State. The abduction of innocent schoolgirls is a heinous crime that not only threatens the safety and well-being of our students but also undermines the fundamental right to education. This incident highlights the urgent need for improved security measures in our educational institutions. I sympathize with the parents of students involved in the ugly incident. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure the safety of our students and create an environment conducive to learning. We must work collectively to address this security challenge and protect our students from such traumatic experiences.
“Moving to the southern region, while the situation is somewhat better, the quality of education is still a concern. Overcrowded classrooms, lack of essential teaching and learning resources, and teachers’ poor remuneration have all contributed to a system that is ill-equipped to foster creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills in our students.
“Education is the bedrock of progress for any nation; it is a catalyst for social, economic, and political development. A well-educated populace is not just the workforce of the future; they are the thinkers, innovators, and leaders of tomorrow. Hence, it is imperative that we overhaul our education system with a sense of urgency and purpose, increasing funding, improving infrastructure, and ensuring teachers are well-trained and adequately remunerated.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, as we consider the state of education in Nigeria, I am here to declare my interest to contest for the position of Senate President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) at the 2023 National Convention.
“Why am I running for this position? Because I believe in the power and promise of education. I believe that every Nigerian child, irrespective of their socio-economic background, deserves access to quality education. I believe that we can and must do better.
“My agenda as the Senate President will be to advocate for significant reforms in the education sector. I will work tirelessly to influence policies that will bridge the gap between the rich and the poor, the north and the south, the educated and the uneducated. I will push for increased budgetary allocations to education, ensuring that our schools have the necessary infrastructure to provide quality education.
“I will advocate for the safety and security of our students, especially in regions plagued by insecurity. This includes pushing for policies that protect our schools, and making sure that every Nigerian child can learn without fear.
“I will also champion the cause of the Nigerian teacher. Our teachers shape the future, and they deserve our respect and support. I will fight for better remuneration, continuous training and development, and improved working conditions for our teachers.
“If elected, I will strive to be a voice for Nigerian students, relentlessly advocating for their rights and welfare. I will work tirelessly to address the challenges facing our educational system, including the issue of exorbitant school fees, security concerns, and the overall quality of education. I firmly believe that education should be a transformative experience that equips students with the knowledge and skills necessary to thrive in a rapidly changing world. As Senate President of NANS, I will work towards creating an inclusive and dynamic educational system that prepares our students for the challenges of the future.
“I envision a Nigeria where every child has a chance to learn and grow, to dream and to achieve those dreams. A Nigeria where our classrooms are hubs of creativity and innovation. My focus is to add value to the organization, the Senators of NANS (who are the Students’ Union President) of all tertiary institutions in Nigeria, and engage stakeholders in governance. We aim to bring our experience to contribute to the economic growth of our nation, led by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (GCFR).
Speaks on his plans if elected NANS Senate President
“If given the opportunity to be the Senate President of NANS, our collaboration with the government will focus on agriculture, implementing a Work and Pay Scheme that will be legislated by the Senate Arm of NANS. Our top priorities will be welfare and ensuring the security of lives and properties of our students. Once declared as the Senate President of NANS, we will unveil our economic plans for Nigerian students both within and outside the country.
“I want to express my appreciation to the outgoing leadership of NANS, including the President, Comrade Usman Barambu, and the President of the Senate, Comrade Attah Felix. They have shown tremendous dedication and have contributed significantly to the growth of education in our country, as well as the welfare of all Nigerian students. We are also proud that NANS is now part of the TETFUND Monitoring Committee under this administration.
“In conclusion, the state of education in Nigeria is at a critical juncture. We must act swiftly and decisively to address the issue of school fees increment, ensure the safety of our students, and build a robust educational system that empowers our youth. I call upon the government, educational institutions, parents, and all stakeholders to come together and prioritize education as the cornerstone of our nation’s progress. Together, we can create a better Nation. I hereby solicit support, prayers, and votes from the Senators of NANS to be the next Senate President of NANS at the 2023 NANS National Convention.