The founder of the Latter Rain Assembly, pastor Tunde Bakare has accused former President, Olusegun Obasanjo of killing students’ unionism in the country when he was the military Head of State in 1978.
Bakare, who was a running mate to Buhari in the last presidential election made the claim on Monday at the 2014 anniversary of the International Day of Students.
According to him, Obasanjo, as the then Head of State in 1978, used brute force to repress the students during the ‘Ali Must Go’ protest.
Some students were killed in the protest. One of them was Akintunde Ojo.
Delivering a paper titled, “Good Governance: Sustainability of Democracy, the Role of Students in the Forthcoming General Elections”, Bakare said it was unfortunate that students’ unionism had been hijacked by unserious students.
Recalling the history of students’ unionism from the colonial days, he noted that it suffered a fatal blow in 1978.
He said, “General Olusegun Obasanjo’s government ordered the brutal suppression of that protest.
Live bullets were unleashed on protesting students. As we proceeded outside the University of Lagos main gate, I narrowly escaped death, as Akintunde Ojo, the young man standing just beside me, was gunned down.
“Through that incident, Obasanjo carved his name on marble as a villain of democracy.
“I did not mince words when opportunity presented itself in November of 1978, when I pointed to his face and said, ‘This government possesses power without compassion, might without morality and strength without sight.’”
While arguing that students’ unionism had been hijacked by never-do- wells, he said the height of this fall was the conferment of the title “Defender of Democracy” on Obasanjo in 2005 by students’ body.
He said, “The apotheosis of the perfidious degeneration of students’ unionism occurred in 2005, when the National Association Nigerian Students decorated Gen. Obasanjo as a ‘Defender of Democracy.’ Yes, the same Obasanjo who masterminded the brutal repression of unarmed students who were merely registering their displeasure over hike in fees.”
Bakare also flayed the role played by students’ leaders in the botched third term bid of Obasanjo.
He said NANS shamelessly campaigned for Obasanjo’s life presidency agenda.
He said, “In essence, Obasanjo killed students’ unionism in Nigeria. As a military Head of State, he killed National Union of Nigerian Students by brutal repression and proscription.
“When Obasanjo returned as civilian president, he killed NANS and made it a shadow of itself.
“Upon the foundation of corruption of students’ unionism, NANS has become weak and factionalised in subsequent administrations.”
He then called on the student body to embark on a journey of rebirth to return to the good old days of student activism.
“You must rid yourselves of cultism and other self-destructive tendencies and take back students’ unionism from hoodlums and charlatans. (NAN)