Saturday, 16 June 2018

JUNE 16 “DAY OF THE AFRICAN CHILD” STATEMENT


To ensure no Nigerian Child is left behind, Nigerian government must provide free, functional and democratically-managed public education at all levels.
 
Press Statement

On the occasion of this year’s “Day of the African Child” celebration which is marked every year since 1991 on June 16, the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) calls for improved funding and provision of free, functional and democratically-managed public education at all levels and respect of democratic rights in all education institutions as the only way to ensure Nigeria’s teeming youth population is not left behind.

We declare the paltry allocation to education in the 2018 budget at both federal and state levels a betrayal of Nigeria’s children and youth and demand immediate upward review of the budget to ensure that public education receives nothing less than 26% allocation as recommended by UNESCO.

But without respect of democratic rights, freedom of speech and association, the goal of education will not be achieved. This is why the ERC also use this occasion to demand the immediate and unconditional reinstatement of all politically victimized students in tertiary institutions across Nigeria particularly Omole Ibukun and others at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Kunle Adebajo of the University of Ibadan who was suspended for writing an article on facebook etc. We also demand restoration of banned students and workers unions, a firm policy against sexism and respect of democratic rights on campuses.

June 16, 2018 also marks the 42nd year anniversary of the notorious SOWETO massacre of June 16, 1976, when school students were gunned down by the repressive South Africa's apartheid regime. The Education Rights Campaign commemorates this historic event, especially because it contains great lessons for Nigeria.

The tragic consequences of anti-poor capitalist policies of governments at all levels have made Nigeria one of the worst places to be a child. A huge layer of Nigeria’s population is under the age of 25 yet there is no provision for expansion of public education. Primary and secondary schools are overcrowded without adequate teachers, facilities and instructional materials. Not surprising therefore that Nigeria accounts for the largest number of out of school children globally with around 10.5 million children out of school. The pro-establishment education policies of the Buhari/APC regime and state governments controlled by APC, PDP and APGA have seen school fees increased as education, more than never before, is being priced out of the reach of poorly paid parents. Instead of protesting the underfunding of education, managements of schools have resorted to squeezing dry the pockets of poor Nigerians. Students who witnessed their colleagues dropping out of school due to previous increments have taken to protesting these inconsiderate policies of education administrators but they have been met by brutal repression.

Take for example, at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Omole Ibukun (the national secretary of the Education Rights Campaign) and three other student leaders have been placed on suspension over spurious charges, which were leveled against them due to the radical roles they played in the struggles of students on that campus. The Students' Union on the campus was equally banned. Following this gross abuse of human and democratic rights of students, the management of the institution has intensified its anti-students' policies – around 70% of the student population were recently evicted from the University hostels without any plan to expand the hostel facilities on the campus.

OAU is not alone in this culture of repression among school authorities. When the University of Ibadan increased hostel fees earlier this year from N14,000 to as much as N40, 000, the authorities responded to the protest of the medical students that this policy affected by closing down its college of medicine. Couple of days ago, the same management suspended a student journalist, Kunle Adebajo, for an article he wrote as far back as 2016 which was critical of the policies of the university. Managements of schools are apparently united in stamping out dissent on campuses and rendering impotent the student unions that should be acting as a traditional platforms for advancing the interests of Nigerian students.

There is no end in sight to the implementation of anti-student policies on campuses. This means that the attendant victimization of students and banning of unions equally have no end in sight. This is why Nigerian students should learn from the heroic deeds of South African students who shook the foundation of apartheid in 1976, and effectively inducted a new generation of young people into the anti-apartheid struggle.

We hereby call on Nigerian students to form a united platform of struggle, and link together the isolated struggle on campuses, with demands for immediate halt to increments, and reversals of recent increments in fees, including demands for immediate reinstatement of victimized students and unbanning of students' unions. Just as the workers of South Africa supported the 1976 Soweto uprising, education workers' unions like ASUU and NASU as well as the wider labour movement should support the struggle of students against undemocratic attacks and for upward funding and democratic management of the education sector.


Hassan Taiwo Soweto
National Coordinator
07033697259


Omole Ibukun
National Secretary

Thursday, 12 April 2018

ERC CONDEMNS REPRESSION OF PROTESTING STUDENTS OF ADEKUNLE AJASIN UNIVERSITY AKUNGBA AKOKO (AAUA)

We demand immediate and unconditional reversal of the hiked fees
Press statement
 
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) strongly condemns the repression of protesting students of Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba Akoko (AAUA) by armed policemen on the orders of the Ondo state Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu. The students were peacefully protesting against astronomical hike in school fees when policemen descended on them shooting live bullets and tear gas sporadically. On Monday 9 April 2018, a student was shot in the leg. Equally on Wednesday 11 April 2018, the peaceful protest was again attacked and several students were arrested by the police.
 
We condemn this mindless repression and demands the immediate and unconditional release of all those arrested. We also call for the immediate sack of the Commissioner of Police in Ondo state for carrying out such mindless and vicious attacks on students peacefully protesting against a fee hike that if allowed to succeed would cut shut their dream of receiving University education.
 
The right to peacefully protest injustice is a universally recognized inalienable right. We warn the Ondo state government to desist from unleashing violence on students demanding their rights. We call on the labour movement and civil society organizations to condemn the repression.
 
We hereby join students to demand an immediate and unconditional reversal of the hiked fees as well as increase in the subvention of AAUA and other state-owned tertiary institutions. As far as we are concerned the fee hike from about 35, 000 to about N200, 000 is anti-poor and unacceptable. Especially given the already dire
economic situation whereby workers and artisans are struggling to keep their heads above water, this hike will lead to massive dropout of indigent students. If this happens, the jobs of academic and non-academic staff will be threatened. This was the scenario that played out at the Lagos State University (LASU) within the three years that an astronomical fee hike regime was sustained.
 
On this basis, we therefore urge members of staff of AAUA not to be hoodwinked or cajoled to support the fee hike in the expectation that it would ensure that workers’ salaries are paid as at when due. Now workers of the institution are being owed backlog of salary and allowances spanning months. But if the astronomical fee hike is allowed, very soon hundreds of academic and non-academic staff will lose their jobs on the basis of decline in students’ population. Therefore instead of supporting the increment, we urge ASUU AAUA, SSANU AAUA, NASU AAUA and NAAT AAUA to join students to resist the increment and demand increase in the subvention to the institution.
 
The argument of the University’s governing council that it is cash-trapped and therefore must increase fees is unacceptable. Where is the evidence? Except concocted figures on facebook, the university has not backed this claim with any serious evidence. We therefore demand that a full statement of the University’s finances be published and that an independent panel made of elected representatives of staff unions, students unions, alumni body and other stakeholders be constituted to probe how the University’s finances has been managed or mismanaged in the last 10 years.
 
In any case, if the pro-Chancellor and vice chancellor of the university have no other means of rectifying the financial situation of the university except by increasing the burden of students and their poor parents, then they should resign and allow those who have better ideas to run the institution.
 
As far as we are concerned, education is a right and not a privilege. It is the social responsibility of government to its citizens. We are strongly of the opinion that the Ondo state government can fund public education appropriately if the state resources are placed under democratic control and management and the routine corruption of elected public office holders stopped.
 
We declare our solidarity with the struggle of AUUA students. We applaud the students for their courage and perseverance and urge them to escalate the struggle until victory is achieved.
 
 
 

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

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

ERC CONDEMNS HARRASSMENT OF NBA IKEJA OVER PLANNED PROTEST AGAINST LAGOS LAND USE CHARGE LAW 2018


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) strongly condemns the siege laid by the police on the Secretariat of the Ikeja branch of the NBA with a view to arrest the chairman of the group and intimidate the NBA and Civil society organisations from going on with their planned protest against the anti-poor Lagos land use charge law 2018 scheduled to take place tomorrow Thursday March 29, 2018. 

This action of the police is undemocratic and tyrannical. Its constitute harrassment of innocent citizens reminiscent of the dark days of military rule. We hereby call for immediate lift of the siege and the recognition of the rights of Nigerians to protest any anti-poor policy. 

We condemn the statement issued by the Lagos state police commissioner where he justified the illegal action of the police on the basis of the need to ensure that the security of President Buhari who is scheduled to visit Lagos tomorrow is not jeopardized on account of the NBA protest. 

While as law-abiding citizens we understand the need to ensure maximum security for the president even though poor Nigerians live in conditions of daily insecurity, we beg to disagree that the protest of the NBA scheduled much before the president visit was announced can cause a breach of security. We ask: how can the protest of the NBA and CSOs jeopardize the president's security when the State govt and the APC are planning to bus in thousands of people from all around Lagos and other APC-governed states in the South west and beyond to stage street rallies and processions tomorrow as part of the programmes to welcome President Buhari? 

If the police wants to be fair, then it is not only the NBA protest that would be stopped tomorrow, other rallies and processions being planned for tomorrow to welcome the president would have to be stopped also for the same reasons. We think the police excuses are weak and unacceptable. We hereby demand that the police recognise the democratic right of Nigerians to protest against anti-poor policies, lift the siege on the NBA, halt any plan to arrest NBA and CSO leaders and allow the planned peaceful protest against Land use charge law 2018 to go on tomorrow without hindrance.


Signed
Hassan Taiwo Soweto
National Coordinator