Monday, 14 August 2017

ERC BACKS ASUU TOTAL AND INDEFINITE STRIKE


CALLS ON THE BUHARI/OSINBAJO GOVERNMENT TO IMMEDIATELY MEET THE DEMANDS
Press Statement

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has once again embarked on a total and indefinite nationwide strike. The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) fully backs this indefinite strike action and calls on government to immediately meet the demands in order to avoid a situation where students waste away at home for months.

We also call on ASUU not to make this strike a sit-at-home action. Rather activities like public rallies, leafleting, mass meetings and demonstrations should be organized regularly in and outside of campuses to ensure that the issues which have necessitated another strike are clearly explained to members of the public whose support and active involvement is vital if ASUU’s crusade to salvage the education sector is to succeed.

This indefinite strike has been called over issues that the general public have now become very familiar with. They are: government refusal to fully implement the 2009 ASUU/FGN agreement, 2013 MOU particularly its provision for a Public Universities Revitalization (Needs Assessment) fund totaling One Trillion, three Hundred Billion naira out of which only N200 billion has been paid so far, Payment of fractions/Non-payment of salaries especially in state Universities, Non-Payment of Earned Academic Allowance (EAA), Non-release of operational license of NUPEMCO as well as other issues concerning the welfare of academic workers. All of these issues singularly and collectively bothers on government inadequate funding of public education.

For us in the Education Rights Campaign (ERC), we find it unacceptable that whilst government finds money to buy exotic cars for lawmakers, finance the outrageously expensive treatment of President Buhari in London and guarantees insanely luxurious lifestyle for political office holders, it is unable to find money to fund public education and meet the needs of academic staff.

As far as we are concerned, Nigeria has enough wealth which if judiciously managed can fund education adequately and even ensure the provision of free and democratically-managed public education at all levels. What is responsible for this absurdity whereby a country with stupendous resources finds it hard to fund public education and ensure a stable academic calendar not punctuated by incessant strikes is the anti-poor neo-liberal agenda which feeds the greed of the capitalist ruling elite who corner over 80 percent of the country’s wealth thus leaving little or nothing to fund social services. The Buhari/Osinbajo government despite its campaign rhetoric of change have left this unjust arrangement unaltered which is why nothing has changed for the better since the government came to power over two years ago.

Rather than deal with the crises afflicting the education sector, the Buhari/Osinbajo government has plunged it into more. For the over two years since the government came to power, funding to public education has remained abysmally low, fees and cost of education have been on the ascendance, poor welfare conditions and inadequate teaching facilities are still the order of the day while the government is unable to implement agreement not just with ASUU but also other staff unions.

This means that the ASUU strike may just be a foretaste of what is yet to come. In this sense, the present strike is one that typifies the abysmal failure of the Buhari/Osinbajo government and the futility of its campaign promises all of which have turned out to be nothing but empty words. Therefore for us in the Education Rights Campaign (ERC), it is the Buhari/Osinbajo government that should be held responsible for the pain and anguish that this strike will bring to students and their parents/guardians.

Just like previous strike actions, the government had a forewarning but did absolutely nothing. The lecturers’ union had embarked on a one-week warning strike in November 2016 to give ample signal that its members would no more tolerate government refusal to implement agreement it freely entered with the union amidst other demands. But since members of the capitalist ruling elite no more depend on public Universities and tertiary institutions for the education of their children just as they have abandoned public hospitals to the poor, they did nothing thus leaving the union with no choice but to embark on a total and indefinite strike.

To avoid the horrible scenario whereby the strike drags on endlessly, students, parents and members of the public need to rally round ASUU to collectively call on the government to fulfill its responsibility towards public education. This is no time for students and parents to take a position of neutrality in the ongoing conflict between ASUU and the government. What is at stake is the fate of public education and the future of the country so for that reason, this struggle is also the struggle of all students, parents and working people in general.

What we need at this moment is a movement comprising education workers, students, labour unions and concerned members of the public to begin to actively organize to demand that government commits adequate resources to the funding of education. Ultimately, only the coming to power of a worker and poor people’s government armed with socialist policies can begin to ensure that Nigeria’s wealth is committed to funding education and meeting people’s needs.


 

                                                                                                                 
Hassan Taiwo Soweto                                                                   Ibukun Omole                      
National Coordinator (07033697259)                                       National Secretary

Thursday, 10 August 2017

KOGI STATE: ERC CONDEMNS GOVERNOR YAHAYA BELLO’S DECISION TO BAN ASUU


Calls for meeting of Striking lecturers Demands and Improved Funding of Education
Press statement


The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) unequivocally condemns the decision of the Governor Yahaya Bello-led Kogi state government to  ban the activities of the Kogi State University (KSU) Chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) for embarking on strike action to push home demands for payment of owed arrears of salaries and allowances as well as other demands.
                                                                                                                                      
We urge the Kogi state government to immediately and unconditionally reverse the illegal, undemocratic and despotic ban and instead pursue the honorable path of meeting the demands of the striking lecturers.

This action of the Kogi state government is an assault on democratic rights especially the right to freedom of association as enshrined in the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize to which Nigeria is a signatory. The Kogi State government must be made to understand that this is democracy and that strike actions and protests are legally acceptable. We therefore call on the labour movement and the students’ movement to resist this attack with mass actions.

The anti-poor government of Kogi state has taken this reprehensible action in order to arm twist and compel the striking lecturers to abandon their demands for payment of owed salaries and allowances as well as other demands.

We salute the ASUU for its resilience despite attempt by the despotic state government to undermine the strike with false propaganda and security forces. It is shameful and undemocratic that a government will resolve to use force to compel workers to resume work instead of meeting their demands. It is now about seven months since the strike started yet nothing is being done by the state government to meet the demands so that students can resume academic activities.

This latest attack however is just one out of many undemocratic actions of the tyrannical Governor Yahaya Bello-led Kogi State government. The same government went on air last year to threaten students because they protested in support of striking education workers who are being owed backlogs of salary by the state government.

To us in the ERC, the only way to resolve the impasse is for the state government to meet the demands of the union. As far as we are concerned, ASUU has done the needful for a serious government to meet its demands. The other staff unions suspended the strike three weeks ago with the hope that government will do the needful but ASUU remained on strike because major parts of its demands have not been meet. 

The Kogi State government is going all about to blackmail the striking lecturers. In one of the propaganda, the state government claimed that ASUU is not calling off its seven months old strike action after government had allegedly met 90 percent of its demands.  But till today, the government is yet to spell out the demands it met out of the ASUU demands.

In the first instance, it is the nonchalance and lackadaisical attitude of the government to public education that contributed to the situation whereby five state owned institutions were closed for five months due to strike actions embarked upon by teaching and non-teaching staff. Therefore, it is Governor Yahaya Bello that should be held responsible, and not ASUU or any other staff union, for the enormous negative effect the strike has had on the students and the state at large.

A   responsive and responsible government will do all that is needful to make life better for the workers, most especially in the education sector where academic excellence is important.

We reiterate our solidarity with the entire ASUU KSU and other staff unions and the students. We shall continue to call for political actions, such as rally, protest, picket, symposium and public meetings until their demands are met and public education is properly funded and democratically managed.



 Dimeji Macaulay
Coordinator, ERC Northern Zone

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

ERC Oyo Holds Inaugural Holiday Coaching for Senior Secondary Students


The inaugural edition of free holiday coaching organised by Oyo State Branch of Education Rights Campaig (ERC) for secondary school students in Ibadan North commenced on Monday August 7, 2017. The venue is Community Grammar School, Mokola, Ibadan.  
Over 60 students going to SS 2 and SS 3 classes have registered for the coaching.

On Wednesday August 9, 2017 Prof. Kolawole, the Head of Department, HOD, Teacher Education and former Dean Faculty of Education, University of Ibadan was at the coaching where he taught students English Language as one of the volunteer teachers.

More volunteer teachers are still needed. Contact 08033914091 if you are interested.

Big thanks to everyone who has been supportive of this initiative.

Recall that for over a decade similar holiday coaching has been organized by the Ajegunle Lagos Branch of ERC yearly. However this year we could not hold it as a result of the ban the Lagos State Government initially placed on the use of public schools during the holiday ostensibly for security reason. 

Prof Kolawale of University of Ibadan holding English Language class

Comrade Babajide, a public school principal, teaching the students


RESTRUCTURING NIGERIA: The Roles of Nigerian Youth in National Rebirth


Leaflet circulated on Wednesday August 9, 2017 by the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) Lagos State University (LASU) Chapter at the Youth Summit organized by the parliament of the students union of the university.

No doubt, given the present parlous state of the country politically, socially and economically, it will be agreed by all that Nigeria needs an urgent restructuring. However, what we must understand is that restructuring itself is not a new idea in the history of Nigeria.

Before now in Nigeria, we have experienced regional governments, state creation, parliamentary system presidential system, unitary system and now we have a federal system which shows that Nigeria has been restructured at different times in history. So nothing that is being canvassed today by members of the ruling elite in favour of restructuring is actually new. Unfortunately, despite the restructuring undertaken at different times in the past, agitations over marginalization and domination have continued.

The reason for this state of affairs is because none of the restructuring carried out in the past endeavored to address the fundamental root of oppression, inequality, underdevelopment and marginalization which is the neo-colonial capitalist economic system handed down by Nigeria's erstwhile Colonial masters. As a result, the crises of inequality, underdevelopment and marginalization have always multiplied with each step taken by the ruling elite to redefine the forms of relationship and cohabitation among the different ethnic nationalities making up Nigeria and the political system that best suits our complexity. 

FALSE ARGUMENTS

Even today, the restructuring argument continues to suffer from this major and fundamental weakness. For instance, notable proponents of restructuring like former Vice President Atiku Abubakar still continue to give the impression that all that is needed to make Nigeria work fairly is simply to devolve power from the centre to the states, review the revenue sharing formula, and create state police. This argument is to give the impression that the primary reason Nigeria is not working is simply because power and resources are too much at the centre. If we were to agree without conceding to this argument, the question we must ask is what have the 36 state governors done with the powers and resources granted to them under the current federal system to uplift their people?
To answer this question, all you need to do is take just a cursory look at the conditions of working people and youth in each of the 36 states. According to reports, more than 20 states owe workers and retirees several backlogs of salary and pension arrears. Today, all the state governors are united in opposition against the demand of the labour movement for an increase in the national minimum wage to N56, 000. Equally, all the state governors are implementing anti-poor policies of education underfunding, privatization and commercialization. Instead of using public resources to pay workers' salaries and fund essential services, many of the state governors embark on white elephant projects simply to loot public resources. Corruption and nepotism are the hallmark in state governance. 

NO MEMBER OF THE RULING ELITE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

If these are the scorecards of state governments under the present federal system, then what is the guarantee that once more powers and resources are devolved to them they would perform differently? In fact when it comes to issues of resources, state governments in the South South region where the shout of marginalization is the loudest today receive monthly at least 30% of the allocations to the states, especially during the oil price boom, apart from special intervention funds from NNDC and Ministry of Niger Delta,   yet there is no significant development to point to in these states. What this therefore means is that the solution goes beyond mere political restructuring. We also need to restructure socio-economically by ensuring that we enthrone an alternative socio-economic system that seeks to use Nigeria's vast human and mineral resources to meet the needs of the vast majority.

Most agitations and social crises all over the country such as pro-Biafra agitations, Boko Haram, kidnapping, Niger Delta Militancy, Bado killings, etc. are fuelled by socio-economic crisis such as unemployment, poverty, economic hardship, low standards of living etc. Of course, if unemployment crisis is resolved and the standard of living in the country is better off, ethnic and religious agitations will have very few foot soldiers. 

Of course, this would not mean that once this is done that ethnic and religious agitation would automatically disappear or there would be no more need for a Sovereign National Conference (SNC) dominated by elected representatives of the working and oppressed people to renegotiate Nigeria's unity. What it does mean is that for real unity to exist in Nigeria and for development to go to all nooks and crannies of the country, we need far more than devolution of powers or creation of state police. Rather we need a revolutionary overturn of the socio-economic system of capitalism which is based on exploitation of the mass majority by a handful because this is the root cause of the disharmony and imbalance in the country whether socially, economically and politically. 

CAPITALISM IS THE ROOT CAUSE

As Oxfam recently puts it, five (5) Nigerians own between themselves so much wealth than is enough to end poverty in Nigeria. Without taking this enormous wealth from this people and putting it into use to fund education, health and social services and create jobs, there is no way it would be possible to lift the millions in poverty out of it. 

Therefore for us in the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) and the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), the only true and genuine restructuring is one that ensures that jobs are provided for the unemployed, workers' salaries and retirees' pensions are paid as at when due, public education and health are properly funded and democratically managed, the outrageous salaries and allowances of political office holders reduced to a level not higher than the national minimum wage, N56, 000 minimum wage and all anti-poor policies of deregulation, privatization and commercialization reversed and the commanding heights of the economy placed under public democratic control and management. 

No member of the capitalist ruling elite from any part of the country can implement a genuine programme for restructuring along the lines canvassed above. Rather for them, restructuring is a slogan to canvass for their own self-serving interests and ambitions. 

Only the working class can carry out genuine political and economic restructuring and transformation of the country. The only unifying class of all oppressed layers of the country is the working class irrespective of religion or tribe. This is the only class, by virtue of its position in the economy that can carry out a revolutionary transformation of Nigeria. But it can only do so if it first and foremost transforms its own weak and pro-capitalist leadership to those that are ready to challenge capitalism and goes on to build a mass workers' political party rooted among all oppressed layers in the country to lead the movement to change the country. 

OUR ROLES AS YOUTH IN NATIONAL REBIRTH 

Of course the youths have major role to play in national rebirth, because the youths are the bedrock and future of every society. Therefore our roles as youth is first and foremost to develop ourselves ideologically in awareness of the class struggle and secondly is to organize ourselves to begin to challenge all anti-poor policies and ally the working class to struggle to end capitalism and enthrone a democratic socialist order. This is the only way that the contradictions of the present system can be resolved under which good standards livings can be guaranteed for the mass of the Nigerian people.