By Emmanuel Ahanonu, Unical.
The Anambra politicians’ selective dishonesty has sour the students’ body relationship and ultimately led to a serious crisis/crack between the two contending bodies that are dragging superiority recently in Awka
The result of the decade’s long cold war between the factions of Anambra State Students bodies was a clash that left scores to settle in years to come. Two factions dragging superiority clash on that penultimate Monday 16th December 2013 at Noble suit Hotel, Awka. The clash was between National Union of Anambra State Students NUASS (led by Comr. Israel Anozie) and Anambra State Students’ Association ANSSA (led by Emmanuel Ngini). The clash was subtle, entertaining but subversive. NUASS (according to sources) has been known for ages by Anambra State Students as their national body until August 2013 at the eve of the Anambra gubernatorial elections when ANSSA sprang to wrestle power with NUASS on who is worth leading Anambra State students in home and Diaspora, to aid drum support for one governorship aspirant or the other.
Historically, NUASS was formed around 1970s under Jim Nwobodo dispensation and subsequently registered under the Ministry of Education. Later, there emanate particles of disgruntled persons who went ahead to form one similar association after the other. These new bodies are formed mostly for extortion purposes thru awarding of one politician after the other as well as serve as foot soldiers during electioneering for such politician..
Because of the faith people had in NUASS as the national body, it existed in many higher institutions across the federation while others who formed petit bodies often domicile in Anambra state institutions only. After a long period of fragmentation, NUASS decided to reintegrate as one last year as all the factions accepted the name; NUASS. The new president Comrade Anozie Israel thought all is over, ignorant of another danger that looms ahead.
Fresh trouble started bubbling around June 2013 when Anozie led NUASS perceived that another group of person has connived at large to dupe some politicians during the last governorship election. Their antics could be perfected with the registration of the body which forms a chunk part of the criteria for opening an account for the union for the business of extortion; such was what triggered the emergence of ANSSA
The founders connived among themselves to register the new student body under the ministry of Youth and Sports as they were bounced from the Ministry of Education for duplication of NUASS vision, as NUASS leadership had alerted the Ministry of the hovering impostures. ANSSA later found favour with Sports Ministry that was ready to play along, and thus certified them an association on 21 August 2013.
ANSSA people of like minds used a node (precipitated by the fear of muscle of forces behind each person) to share positions to drive home their agenda come November 2013 election. Although, their presence was little to be noticed during the election as NUASS had already gained ground and quickly adopted the All Progressive Grand Alliance APGA candidate while National Association of Nigeria Students NANS factionalized its body into 3; one for Labour Party lead by NANS president, the other for APGA while the rest stood for their PDP Comrade aspirant..
The election couldn’t give as much opportunity as expected to ANSSA to execute their agenda. Opportunity soon present itself as the body heard that NUASS has finalized plans with the state government for students’ bursary and constitution of students’ scholarship board. They quickly organized a session they tagged a Brainstorming session to discuss on the bursary payment and the scholarship board issues.
The uproar ensued after someone found out the hideout session of ANSSA and alerted the NUASS officials of the assumed “impersonators’ secret meeting”. NUASS National President quickly mobilizes his chapter presidents (who are in town, no thanks to the ASUU strike) and stormed the venue of the secret session. Alongside the NUASS National President was the NUASS president of Federal University of Technology Owerri FUTO, the representative of (NUASS President) Amadu Bello University Zaria, and his counterpart from University of Portharcourt, His Personal Assistance and the NANS Joint Campus Commission (JCC) chairman. The rest at the venue of the event was war of words for several minutes causing many to scamper for safety in case of violence.
Narrating the incident, Comr. Anozie who is student of Anambra State University noted that Emmanuel Ngini is desperately trying to factionalize the aged long NUASS, in his (Ngini) desperate bid to be Anambra State Politician stooge to the detriment of the Anambra students. Anozie quarried the rationale behind forming another body that has the same aims and objectives with the existing one if not for personal aggrandizement? He further explained that he only came with other branch presidents to inquire why Ngini is holding such event with Anambra state students name since he knew that the government and security operative will come after him (Anozie), in case of negative outcome of the gathering hence the recognized body is under his leadership. He finally queried why Ngini should hold a Nichodemous session meant for students in a hidden hotel instead of inside any institution if really the body is not operating illegally and Ngini’s motive dubious?
In his words “we got information from a NANS official of Anambra state asking if we are the people that are organizing a programme at Noble Suit Hotel in Awka, I was a kind of embarrassed because I know I wasn’t having such programme. When we came there, the programme was already going on which is being organized by one boy by name Emmanuel Ngini who is claiming to be the president of ANSSA, that they are organizing Anambra State Students/Stakeholders meeting on Bursary and scholarship board. When we asked who are you people to organize this type of programme for Anambra State students when the authentic, real and recognized body of Anambra students body is not even aware of it? And they started exchanging words with us. It was at the process of exchanging words that fracas ensued. There was no fight, it was just exchange of words between us and people started running out of that hotel.
“I’m a kind of surprise to read in a paper that phone and laptops were stolen as written by a journalist working with Sun Newspapers. We the NUASS excos, NANS JCC chairman, NANS Zone B Deputy Coordinator (in charge of South South and South East) were all there. They were all asking why some people can decide to organize something like that without the consent of the authentic students’ leaders of Anambra state. We only went there to ask them because we know that if anything happen as a result of that programme, it is we that the SSS and Police know that they are going to call and ask questions concerning what happen.
I only went there with the President of NUASS FUTO Branch; a representative of ABU President, the UNIPORT president, my PA (Amaefuna Ikedi), five of us and NANS officials.
Asked if he was aware of ANSSA existence before that clash, Anozie responded yes but that is after the registration of NUASS and after its reconciliatory meeting that was chaired by Director of higher Education of Ministry of Education under the direction of the Hon. Commissioner of Education, Dr. (Mrs.) Uju Okeke. “After that meeting” he continued, “some group of students that are not even executive from their various schools went and conspire among themselves to register another association on the ground to use it to extort money from politician. I heard that they went ahead later to register the body under in the Ministry of Youth and Sports as Education Ministry bounced their registration. Does Youth and Sports Ministry supposed to be in charge of educational matters in the state” he queried
NUASS president alleged that Commissioner of Youth and Sports was flawly invited to the event instead of the education counterpart but denial having the knowledge of inviting the Anambra State governor elect Chief Willie Obiano as “it never reflected on their invitation letter that I saw, the only person present when we got there was valentine Anyika (from Enugu-Uku) who is representing Aniocha constituency in the state House of Assembly.
Speaking on the fractionalization of NUASS, the 2008 Unical Chapter President of NUASS, Comr. Ndubuisi Omile said that the so called ANSSA are confused set of people that want to reap where they didn’t sow, “you cannot have two bodies (NUASS and ANSSA) in one state. The so called ANSSA are intruders and two of them cannot exist. What they could have done is to go and join NUASS as the National body. Whatever name they give themselves does not matter; what matters is that they are claiming to be Anambra State Students body where there is already existing body.
Comrade Omile collaborated with Anozie’s assertion that there were fragments that were all settled during the harmonization meeting where NUASS was readopted. He added “what matters most is if the body is registered under students’ affair division hence it is a student’s body that ought to be operated inside the school so that if there is any issue, you can go to your students Affairs Dean and sought it.
“Those ANSSA are just trying to outsmart NUASS” he continued, “by trying to go to that place (Ministry of Youth and Sports) and register and start parading themselves as a union. This NUASS has been in existence since Jim Nwobodo as pressure group from tertiary institutions, so, I don’t see any reason why any other people should clone a name in order to do the same thing which the existing association is doing.
The ABU Zaria president of NUASS Comr. Emeka Okoye (a 400L Water Resources and Environmental Engineering Student) in chat with CAMPUSLIFE added that “we only have NUASS since 1970s; I just heard that some people formed ANSSA last year and started claiming National body. They emerge in such a time that the government wasn’t paying much attention to students. In fact, to me, ANSSA is not even a body, it does not exist, and the body will soon go the same way it came. In almost all the universities, we only have NUASS, I’ve never heard of ANSSA.
Adding to that, two (one who simply identified herself as Nkiru and the other who crave anonymity) students of Anambra State University ANSU who are indigenes of Anambra state noted that they have never heard of ANSSA in the school before, that they only know of NUASS. They believed that ANSSA may be one of the political adhoc bodies that often spring up during electioneering and goes into extinction after the elections.
But ANSSA President who a 300L Mass-Communication student of ANSU believed that his association sprang up to fill the lacuna created by NUASS inefficiency. He also believe that NUASS has gone moribund but admitted that ANSSA is not yet a national body as it is only existing in 3institutions in Anambra state thus; at Oko Polytechnique where it is headed by Chima Afamefula; at ANSU where it’s being headed by Oliver Nwankwo as well as MGBAKWU where Johnson John is heading the association.
He equally lamented over the “unstudent like” exhibition of NUASS executive during the event which he believe will benefit all the Anambra state students at the long run. He alleged that Anozie and his men took laws into their hand by disrupting his event instead of leaving the security agents to do their works if they feel disgruntled.
According to him, “the problem goes beyond authenticity of our bodies, because my association is duly registered with the Ministry of Youth and Sports which is the body in charge of registration of associations, as NUASS is claiming that they are recognized by the Ministry of Education while I’m talking about registration. Secondly, my association is structured in such a way that it is in every school interacting with the real students of the state, so this is a case of let’s leave it and see who students will identify with. The programme was just an interactive session with the students and stake holders of education in the state, where the students can air their views and opinions to discuss primarily on the issue of bursary, establishment of scholarship board and establishment of students parliament. Then, I was called by some of those people for collaboration and I refused, I told them that if there will be a collaboration that it will be in subsequent project, not on this event and they said it is not going to hold.
Continuing in lamentation he said “the people came and destroyed an epoch making event. I’m aware that in the history of students’ activism in Anambra State, there has never been such a session. The problem in Anambra state is that Mr. A student is angry, Mr. B student is dissatisfied but we all are grumbling in our Minot way, we have not come together to pressure the government for anything and that is what we wanted to do and this people came and destroy everything.
He added that the disruption of the event was ill-timed as NUASS officials stormed in while Robinson Okoye (the even LOC chairman) was just reading the welcome address. Ngini also alleged that NUASS officials beat him up with Robinson. And Robinson wrist watch was stolen alongside his wallet containing his ATM Card and the sum of N15,000, his bag containing some documents and sum of N20,000 was also stolen and lots of students lost their phones and laptops. It’s all a case of putting the Cat before the Horse” he fumed.
Finally, Ngini discharge NUASS as existing body for according to him “NUASS is more or less a moribund association. What have they been able to do for the students?”
In a swift reaction to the allegation of stealing from the guests, the NANS Zone B Deputy Coordinator, Comr. Okorie Ikechukwu blasted ANSSA president and added that the association wants to reap where they didn’t sow
Speaking on the incident, Ikechukwu said that “what really happened is that I was behind NUASS arrival, because when I was going there, I tried to sort out the issues before then but the boy of ANSSA knows the type of game he is playing. I called him myself on Friday (13th Dec. 2013) before the programme that he should come, let’s sought the issues out because I’ve not seen a state that has two of the same student bodies and NUASS is a body I have known for years. If I have not spent time in Anambra, this should be my 11th year, I’ve known NUASS, I have never heard of ANSSA.
Speaking further, he said “from the information I gathered, ANSSA went to Ministry of Youth and Sports to register the body, which is not being done anywhere. If you look at the registration, it is as if something is cooking, and all these Honourable members in the House, if you cannot represent your people, go home and sit down, don’t just go out there and start buying awards, calling people to give you award; it is unfair”. He also said that he first called the DCO of D division and pre-informed him about the illegal event.
“On my way getting there, there was already a problem. From my own investigation, I found out that NUASS president with JCC Chairman who is the number one student of Anambra state, to ask them (ANSSA) that we don’t have two student bodies in this state.
“But when they get to that place, it was ANSSA people that started the quarrel because from the information I gathered; the ANSSA people went and hired Diamond Security when they heard that these boys are coming to that place. So, if you look at it, they were ready. I gathered that Diamond Security waited and left 10minuted before the arrival of NUASS. So, when I got there, it was like a war because the NUASS were only 5 while others (ANSSA) where many.
“When I rushed in, I saw a camera and two phones on the floor, I picked them. I tried to calm them down. On my way coming down, I asked who is the owner of this camera, which one of the pressmen said I’m the owner, I gave him the camera. Even the man that reported it on the Sun newspapers, I saw him; the one that said they smash his laptop was with his laptop. And a girl came to me that she is the owner of this phone and I said, use my phone and dial your number which she did and the phone rang, I gave it back to her. Then another boy came and said I’m the owner of the other phone, I said, use mine and dial your number but he said, this is my Etisalat line and I don’t know it off hand, I said sorry o, I’m with this phone and I’m leaving, by then, the SSS has come and were trying to sought things out.
“This one they alleged that NUASS came and destroy and loot is a liar: you know when there is a problem, so many things will. As I’m speaking with you now, a police man which I’m going to get his name ceased the 2 phones of NUASS president and gave it to the hotel manager only for them to be demanding money from him, as I speak with you now, his Black Berry phone is still with the hotel manager now. What I’m telling you is the fact” he quipped
Comr. Ikechukwu added that on their way going, SSS stopped them and demanded the presence of NUASS president which he did alongside myself. They were all taken to the hotel, and one of the SSS alleged that NUASS may have come to the event to loot but Ikechukwu responded that if really NUASS were there to loot, they would have escape instantly. Moreso, the chief security on the inter campus in Anambra State affirmed that NUASS never came to loot.
The tussles later lead all the contending factors to SSS office in Awka where the issues were partly sorted with the assistance of NANS President Comr. Yinka Gbadibo who called the SSS from Abuja to identify his sub leaders. “Although, we were later allowed to go and come back on Thursday 19th Dec” added Ikechukwu. Who equally alleged that the Sun Newspaper Reported was paid by the ANSSA group to report lies against the true position of what transpired, for according to him “one of my friend, Okadigbo by name who is a UNIPORT student, he called the reporter (not knowing that we were together) and the reporter told him that those (ANSSA) boys paid him to publish that report. Ikechukwu finally threatened that he wouldn’t take it kind with that reporter who lied to the public for being paid and call on him for immediate corrigendum.
As these bodies continue in their see-saw intrigue, lots of questions are begging for answers: which is the legitimate body to register students association in Anambra state; Ministry of Education or Ministry of Youth and Sports? Was the governor elect actually invited for the programme and why him when there is still a seating governor? Why should the event be staged inside a hidden hotel in Awka instead of inside an institution or does the strike played a role in having the event staged at an exclusive hotel? If really the event is meant for students as alleged by ANSSA leadership, why avoiding incorporation of NUASS leadership? Why was security hired by ANSSA for students’ deliberation? And who is the legitimate overseeing students’ body for Anambra state students; NUASS or ANSSA? – Only time will tell!