Comrade Olaseinde Adeyinka, popularly called NEWTON by his friends and admirers, is a 23-year old former Students Union President and a final year Student of Federal University of Technology (FUTA), Akure, Ondo State.
The activist in this chat with our correspondent explains his desire to contest the presidency of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS).
How will you describe your tenure as FUTA SUG President?
I left a legacy of true unionism, with fierce agitation for students’ welfare. Before my tenure, there was this narrative that the SUG was only a puppet in the hands of the school Management and so there is usually a little incentive for student politicians to agitate for students’ rights in that respect.
But my tenure ensured that students were a top priority in our negotiations with those at the corridor of power. One evident outcome of that was the reduction in the acceptance fee by about 20 percent. I left the mark of the “People’s President” – I was easily approachable, I received calls at midnight from students harassed by some units of the police force, and I would rush down that night; I made a conscious effort to solve off-campus electricity problem because I was part of the struggle myself.
You are almost the youngest person to run for the office of NANS President in the last two decades. What gave you the confidence to triumph at the forthcoming NANS Convention?
By the grace of God, the movement to bring back NANS to the young majority, to the actual students who can relate more to students’ peculiarities will be actualized at the coming convention. Every system is subjected to change. The Nigerian mainstream political structure has witnessed a breakthrough with the #NotTooYoungToRun bill, I believe the best way to effect this change is to begin with NANS.
What plans do you have for the Nigerian students if elected?
I and the Rebirth team didn’t just wake up one day to say we want NANS presidency, it was strategically planned and ordained by God Almighty. I called it the REBIRTH Agenda; to rebrand and register the NANS brand for the progress of Nigeria, ensure the interest and dignity of Nigerian Students remain sacrosanct while maintaining a cordial relationship with the government and other organisations, bring NANS back to the young vibrant majority, initiate a lasting and cheap internet access for Nigerian Students in accordance to the demands of the global world, revive and revitalize the state of our Student Union and accord more relevance to the office of the president, to find a lasting solution to the continuous strike action affecting students, help build a NANS that balances intellectualism with sagacity, a NANS that is taken seriously by men and women of valour and institutions of unquestionable integrity globally.
Nigerian Students in public universities have been at home for almost 10 months due to an industrial action embarked upon by ASUU. If you emerge as NANS president, how will you put an end to this?
“When two elephants fight, the grass always suffers.” ASUU is a union itself, saddled with the responsibility to ensure its members have the best of life. FG has the responsibility, under the social contract theory, to deliver the best of the education sector because of that, there might be clashes between these two bodies in a bid to reach a reasonable consensus. However, are there ways ASUU and FG can clash without students being grossly affected? As NANS President, I will ensure if at all there is a reason for them to clash, the fight would be shifted from the figurative grass of students to elsewhere, to reduce the effect on students.
The ripples from ENDSARS protest is still booming. How will you ensure that the rights of Nigerian Youths are safeguarded?
Permit me to talk about my engagements before being a NANS presidential aspirant. I believe it is necessary to understand my stance on the rights of the youth of this country. I founded the Sir Newton Rebirth Initiative after an antecedent marked with exploits as a student leader where I served meritoriously as a class Governor of my faculty in my first year, served as the PRO of my state’s indigenous association, to serving as the Students Union President of the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) and later appointed as Vice-President, Nigerian Students and Youths Association (NISAYA). The major aim of the REBIRTH INITIATIVE is to breed a new set of norms that will ensure the rights of everyone especially, the youth are protected. I will also stand for and not against fundamental human rights.