Sunday Oladele, the Oyo State-born pioneer President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), who achieved victory after 41 years of struggle with Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH) in Lagos, has been proclaimed dead.
His son, Olalekan made the disclosure in an interview on Tuesday Punch, adding that the deceased was planning big for his convocation before he died.
According to Olalekan, the 72-year-old activist was celebrating his win against YABATECH when the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges ruled that his certificate be returned to him after 41 years of confiscation in June 2021.
Olalekan stated this in an interview on the sidelines of a press conference addressed by the Chairman of Pa Oladele’s Burial Committee, Senator Dino Melaye, and NANS President, Sunday Asefon, in Abuja on Tuesday.
Oladele, alongside a few others, had in 1980 led the rebirth of the students’ movement from the proscribed National Union of Nigerian Students after the military government of Olusegun Obasanjo had, during the ‘Ali Must Go struggle’ led by Olusegun Okeowo, banned student unionism, which was firmly organised under NUNS
According to PUNCH, he was said to have led others, regrouped them, wrote a new constitution, and in 1980, founded NANS.
Melaye said, “This effrontery later earned him and most of his colleagues varying consequences such as expulsion, rustication, and withholding of their certificates.
“Seeing how long the injustice had persisted, the Senate mandated the management of YABATECH to release forthwith his certificate withheld for 41 years. With the intervention of the Senate Committee, the management of YABATECH agreed to present the departed leader with his certificate at their next convocation but unfortunately, he died two weeks after.”
According to him, a letter would be sent to the President Muhammadu Buhari, Ministers of Education and Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, “to ask that this great Nigerian, who sacrificed all for the betterment of this country and who was denied justice for 41 years, be immortalised.”
Olalekan added, “I’m his first child and only son; I’ve two sisters. I’m glad that I spoke with him and our last conversation was a good one. He was in high spirits, suffered for 41 years, but died doing what he loves best.
“My father has always talked about his struggles to get his certificate from YABATECH. He was in high spirits, having got that Senate victory, and was really looking towards that convocation ceremony in YABATECH in a big way.
“My father fought with love for the masses; it was never a burden to him. He never had any regret. His only regret was that his struggle to see a better Nigeria was not actualised in his lifetime. But other than that, he never had any regret.”