…says strong institutions, rule of law key to democratic governance
Edo State Deputy Governor, Rt Hon Comrade Philip Shaibu, has charged Nigerian students to work hard without fear of intimidation by persons he described as ‘strong men’ in Nigeria for the sustenance of the nation’s democracy.
Shaibu gave the charge at the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) Summit, which was held at Imaguero College in Benin City.
The event hosted by the NANS Vice President (Inter-Campus Affairs), Comrade Vanessa Egbeahie, saw business moguls, technocrats, politicians and other important personalities from all walks of life, in attendance to encourage and impact the students.
The Deputy Governor, who was one of the keynote speakers, admonished the students to be hardworking, diligent, focused and determined to push for the growth and development of Nigeria.
Shaibu who once served as President of NANS, narrated his journey into student unionism and his contributions to the emergence of democracy in Nigeria.
He painted a vivid picture of how he was tortured by the military for leading the NANS Zone C Abacha Must Go rally and how he was detained in Gashua prison in now Zamfara State for one month until he was released following a report by a Journalist called Jacob published his detention.
“We fought the military because we wanted a government of the people, by the people and for the people. We wanted an ear-giving government; one that is there by the power of the people”.
“We, young and vibrant activists back then, didn’t give the military rest. Some of our colleagues didn’t survive it, some of them died, some brutalized and some till today are in wheelchairs”.
“But the good thing is that their spirit was not killed. They are always interested in Nigeria being an egalitarian country”.
“I sustained injuries while under severe torture in one of my sojourns in detention and it led to my being operated on for appendicitis”.
“For you, I want you to know that the last election was a test case for the youths – whether they are conscious of their future – you all came out to vote, but you must not be weary regardless of what happened”.
Shaibu also mentioned how he challenged the then President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo to recall the 779 rusticated student unionists during the democratic struggle.
“In that same struggle, we got the President to suspend the financial autonomy that he was proposing for all federal institutions. In that same struggle, I got the President to approve the increase of corp members allowance then, from #3,500 to #7,500”.
“If we did not have the character to determine what we wanted, we would have chickened out. Maybe today, we won’t have democracy. We were offered money to jettison our struggle, but, we were convinced that the struggle for democracy was better than selling our rights for a pot of porridge. We resisted, fought for democracy and today, democracy is here”.
“The sustainability of this democracy is, however, determined by the rule of law which is very important for us. We should make sure that our personal sentiments do not influence our official conduct as public servants”.
“Today, we have supermen as against strong institutions. When we have supermen, they work for themselves, but when you have strong Institutions, it works for everybody. What we need to sustain democracy is to obey the rule of law, where the Inspector General of Police can work without being influenced; where a University Vice Chancellor will not be controlled by the President or governor; where the Local Government Chairman will not be controlled by the executive because there’s an account joining the two tiers of government”.
“Until and except this is addressed, Nigeria will not move forward”.
The Deputy Governor further encouraged the students to be who they want to be by their hard work and prayers.
“For you to be what you want to be, your character is key. Don’t let anyone deceive you. You are the only one that can make yourself by hard work and concerted efforts to be what you want to be”, Shaibu added.