The first-ever President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Late Comrade Danladi Sunday Oladele, died without being allowed to collect his certificate 41 years after graduation from Yaba College of Technology (YabaTech), Lagos.
Chairman, Central Planning Committee for the burial of Oladele, Senator Dino Melaye, disclosed this at a press conference organised by NANS and its former leaders in Abuja on Tuesday.
He said Oladele’s certificate is still being held by the management of YabaTech as a punitive measure over his activism during his days in the college.
He lamented that even though the college promised to release the certificate at its next convocation following the intervention of the 9th Senate on the matter, Comrade Oladele eventually died in the course of pursuing the certificate.
Melaye, a two-time Member of the National Assembly, however, vowed that NANS would ensure that the certificate is retrieved from the school before the remains of Oladele is buried.
“In the early hours of Monday, 9th August, 2021, the Nigerian students and civil rights movement lost her foremost national icon, Comrade Danlad Sunday Oladele to the cold hands of death. He passed on in his hotel room in Abuja.
“The late comrade, alongside a few others, had in 1980 led the rebirth of the student movement from the proscribed National Union of Nigerian Students (NUNS).
“Recall that the Military Government of Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo had during the ‘Ali Must Go struggle’ led by late Comrade Olusegun Okeowo banned student unionism which was firmly organised under the National Union of Nigerian Students.
“This was done to weaken the growing voice and student resistance movement mounted continually against anti-people policies and programs of the Military Government.
“In a rare act of courage, Comrade Danlad Sunday Oladele led others, regrouped them, wrote a new constitution and in 1980, founded the National Association of Nigerian Students.
“This effrontery later earned him and most of his colleagues varying consequences such as expulsion, rustication and withholding of their certificates.
“Being a dogged fighter with non-violent strategies and methods, he fought for good 41 years against the injustice meted on him by the YABATECH management for withholding his certificate despite passing his exams.
“He secured several court orders mandating the management of YABATECH to release his certificate, none of which the school authority obeyed till his death.
“In June 2021, the Senate, through its Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, in response to Comrade Danlad Sunday Oladele’s petition to the committee, invited him to a public hearing.
“He mobilised old colleagues within the student movement and the leadership of NANS to accompany him to the Senate hearing.
“Two weeks after, the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions re-invited him for another hearing where he had the rare honour of confronting the management of YABATECH before the distinguished Senators.
“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.
“The fearless, articulate, selfless, accommodating, peace-loving, assertive and the Ibarapa East Local Government, Oyo state born Danlad Sunday Oladele spent a larger part of his life mentoring young activists and teaching them non-violent methods in fighting injustice.
“He was fair in his business dealings as well as generous to neighbours, comrades, classmates and friends.
“Being the pioneer NANS President, a national burial, befitting of his kind, in collaboration with his family, is being coordinated under the Chairmanship of my humble self (Sen. Dino Melaye),” Melaye said.
He added that the current NANS led by Sunday Asefon has concluded plans to ensure that students activists in the country who are being persecuted by school authorities for their activism get justice.