Economic Hardship: The Dire Need For Students’ Voices


Olanshile Ogunrinu

In the annals of Nigeria’s history, the resounding echoes of student activism have marked pivotal moments in the nation’s trajectory. A testament to this is the spirited resistance mounted by Nigerian students in 1962 against the Anglo-Nigerian Defence Pact policy, a movement that ultimately succeeded in altering the course of the nation’s policies. Fast forward to the 1980s, and the indomitable spirit of the Nigerian students once again shone through as they vehemently rejected the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under the administration of Babangida. These historical milestones highlight the influential role students have played in shaping the nation’s destiny.

Today, as Nigeria grapples with multifaceted challenges ranging from an astronomical increase in the prices of basic commodities to the relentless commercialization of education, the need for the voices of the students to reverberate through the corridors of power has never been more urgent. The resilience and collective strength demonstrated by past generations of students in shaping national discourse should serve as an inspiration for the present generation to rise against the prevailing economic hardships.

The current scenario, characterized by skyrocketing prices of essential goods, paints a bleak picture for the average Nigerian. Families are struggling to make ends meet, and the burden falls heavily on students who are already navigating the challenges of pursuing education in a system fraught with difficulties. The unending commercialization of education further exacerbates the predicament, as students find themselves ensnared in a web of exorbitant fees and expenses.

In this dire context, it becomes imperative for Nigerian students to channel the spirit of activism that has defined their predecessors. Rather than passively witnessing the erosion of their economic and educational landscape, students must unite to demand change. A call for study grants, as opposed to student loans, is a fundamental aspect of this struggle. The burden of loans can stifle the aspirations of many, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. A system that promotes education through grants empowers students without shackling them to the chains of debt.

The University of Ibadan Students Union, which prides itself as the premier union, must now rise to this occasion. As torchbearers of the nation’s intellectual capital, our voice carries weight and influence. A Press conference, articulating the grievances of the student body and the collective call for change, would serve as a powerful starting point.

A strategic and impactful move would be a day-long lecture boycott, symbolising the students’ refusal to be passive observers of the current state of affairs. This act of solidarity would send a clear message to policy-makers that the students are prepared to make sacrifices to ensure their voices are heard. It would also galvanize support from various quarters, including academics, parents, and concerned citizens who share the students’ concerns about the current economic hardships.

Furthermore, engaging in a sustained dialogue with policy-makers is crucial. The student body, through its union, should present well-researched proposals and demands, outlining concrete steps that can be taken to alleviate the economic burden on both students and their families. This approach not only showcases the students’ commitment to finding solutions but also places the responsibility on policy-makers to respond to the legitimate concerns of the youth.

In conclusion, the dire economic hardship facing Nigeria demands the mobilisation of the students’ voices. Drawing inspiration from historical victories against unfavourable policies, the current generation of students must stand united against the astronomical increase in commodity prices and the commercialisation of education. It is time for students to reclaim their role as architects of the nation’s destiny and demand a brighter, more equitable future for all.

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