Tuesday, 14 March 2017

UNILAG: Campaign for Recall of 11 Rusticated Students holds first Protest


Courage and Determination must now be matched with a clear plan to take the Struggle Forward

YNA (Omomeewa) – Coordinater, ERC Lagos State Chapter
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) Lagos State Chapter joined a protest march on Monday 6 March 2017 organized by the #SaveUNILAG Coalition to demand the unconditional reinstatement of the 11 rusticated students of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) and the restoration of independent students union among other demands. 

They were rusticated for their participation in a students’ protest in April last year over poor welfare, epileptic power and water supply, conditions, high cost of food and other basic needs on campus etc.

Other demands of the March 6 protest are immediate halt to all victimization especially the 40 PhD students invited to a panel for questioning recent hike in their accommodation fees, improved students welfare, reversal of hike in Post Graduate accommodation fees, proper funding of education and democratization of decision making organs in academic institutions to involve elected representatives of students and staff.

About 30 members and allies of the ERC joined the protest. The protest, about a hundred strong, was organized by the Save UNILAG coalition which compromises the Education Rights Campaign (ERC), SAYASI, ANSA, NANS JCC Lagos and other groups. Many activists joined the protest in solidarity from schools within Lagos and surrounding states like Osun, Ogun and Edo States. The protest march kicked off from the Labour house Yaba. 

Unfortunately because of the climate of fear on the campus as a result of the vicious clampdown on democratic rights by the school authority, UNILAG students are afraid to express their minds and therefore could not join the protest. In the aftermath of the protest last April, students were forced to sign indemnity forms with the veiled threat that this could be used against them in the event they are found involved in any activity considered by the University management as against its interests.

From labour house protesters marched down to Unilag gate with solidarity songs. Prior getting to Unilag several contingents of armed police had barricaded the road leading to University at about 60 meters distance before the gate. Two police vans were stationed to cut off the road while the armed police stayed behind the vehicles prepared to prevent the protesters from getting any further. Instead of turning back, protesters set up a human barricade in front of the police vehicles and engaged the police in agitations. Just at that point, a heavy rain started and lasted for about four hours. Yet the protesters, drenched in the heavy rain, did not budge from the barricade. 

This courage and determination demonstrated by the protesters eventually forced the police to begin to look for a way out to ease the standoff. Eventually, the Area Commander of the police had to come down to address the leaders of the protest. He agreed to our demand which was to make a principal officer of the University to come out to listen to the demands of the protesters. The Dean of Students Affairs (DSA) of the University came down to listen to the demands.

The Secretary of the Coalition, Sanyaolu Juwon and the NANS JCC Lagos chairman Samson Moses presented protesters’ demands to the hearing of the DSA. In his reaction, the DSA noted that our demands were taken and we should be rest assured that he would deliver the message appropriately to the right quarters. In rounding up the presentation, ERC National Coordinator H.T Soweto emphasized to the DSA that this would not be the end of the protest and that more actions would be taken in the coming weeks unless and until the University meets the demands of the protesters.
Various Broadcasting media stations were there to cover the protests. Notable ones are SilverBird Television, Galaxy TV, TVC, Core TV, Punch newspaper, Sahara Reporters etc. 

After this protest, there is an urgent need for a meeting of the coalition to review the strength and weaknesses of the action with a view to mapping out activities to build the campaign further.

Monday, 6 March 2017

SPN CALLS FOR THE REVERSAL OF BRT FARE HIKE


PRESS STATEMENT

We of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN), Lagos State Chapter call on the Akinwunmi Ambode's All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Lagos State Government to reverse the hike of transport fares for LAGBUS Buses newly introduced. Coming at a time of depleting level of living conditions, the fare hike is salt added to wound. 

The hike is anti-poor and insensitive. If allowed, it will put enormous strain on workers, students, youth and the poor who daily commute with the BRT.

At a time when the working people are suffering from excruciating poverty arising from inflation and erosion of income, a genuine pro-masses government that places value on citizens’ welfare would not even think of increasing bus fares. Rather such a government would be thinking of how to ensure even further reduction in bus fares to assist the most vulnerable and downtrodden. By its action and inaction, the Ambode/APC government is slowly but surely beginning to reveal its anti-masses disposition just like its predecessors. 

We hereby give notice that if the Lagos State Government fails to reverse this decision, we will be left with no choice than to join other willing forces to mobilise a mass resistance against the policy. 

The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) is not merely an electoral platform; it is equally a party of struggle. We call on workers, artisans, students, youth and all ordinary people of Lagos State to join the SPN as we struggle for day-to-day improvement of living conditions of working people 

We also call on the working people in Lagos State Government to link their anger and protests against the deliberate commercialisation of the state by the regime in power to a programme of putting in power a pro-working people's government that will make Lagos State not just a paradise for the super-rich but a haven for all.

Moshood Osunfurewa
State Secretary

Thursday, 2 February 2017

ERC BACKS ASUP ONE-WEEK WARNING STRIKE


 Incessant strike in the education sector is a sign that Buhari has failed on all fronts

PRESS STATEMENT

Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) has on Monday, January 30, begun a one-week warning strike to demand the implementation of the ASUP/Government agreement of 2010 on the review of the Federal Polytechnics Act.

The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) fully supports the warning strike. The conditions in public polytechnics across the country are very bad. Unfortunately, government does not care. Meanwhile, without well-funded and fully efficient polytechnics; the quest for Nigeria’s industrialization would remain a pipedream.

We condemn the penchant of the federal government to renege or fail to implement agreement with ASUP and other unions in the education sector. We therefore call on the government to immediately meet ASUP demands in order to avoid an indefinite strike which could lead to a total shutdown of the system.

It can also be recalled that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) went on a one-week warning strike in November 2016 while the Non-academic Staff Union (NASU), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) also went on a one-week warning strike two weeks ago. To us in the ERC, these incessant strikes in the education sector have significantly proved that the current APC/Buhari led federal government is not different from the previous Jonathan/PDP led government. Just like its predecessors, the Buhari government has continued to deliberately underfund public education, thereby leaving the education sector in a state of total collapse. We therefore reiterate our call for adequate funding of education by federal state governments. However, in order to tackle the characteristic menace of misappropriation of resources and allocations by school managements, we call for democratic management of all decision making organs with the inclusion of elected representatives of workers and students     

Aside the non-implementation of the 2010 ASUP/FGN agreement, ASUP also listed other grievances which include alleged victimization of union officials, non-release of union check-off dues and undue interference in union activities, deliberate attempt at frustrating the resolutions of the meeting of the council on establishments, sustained poor funding of polytechnics and non-release of CONTISS 15 migration arrears. ASUP has further given a condition to the Federal government to either close down the system or redeem it from total collapse.

It can be noted that Nigerian tertiary institutions these days are characterized with dilapidated learning facilities, outdated libraries, non-payment of salaries and arrears, and general poor state of welfare. As if it is the solution, the managements of Nigerian tertiary institutions have turned to incessant increase in the tuition fee which has not in any way led to improvement in the learning conditions on various campuses. Instead, children of the working people are being denied access to public education through the outrageous charges and as a result, the rate of drop-outs has increased astronomically.

Against this background, the warning strike embarked upon by ASUP is a welcome development. However to gain popular support, we urge ASUP not to limit the strike to a sit-at-home action. Public mass actions like leafleting, rallies, congresses and public meetings should be organized to engage the public with a view to winning their sympathy for the struggle to reposition polytechnic education. This is also essential to gain the popular support of polytechnic students who have a lot to gain if ASUP demand are met.



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

ONLINE CALL FOR “MASSIVE NATIONWIDE PROTEST” SHOWS INTENSE ANGER IN SOCIETY


January 31, 2017
Urgent Plan and Mobilization Needed to Make the Protest a Reality

PRESS STATEMENT

Over the past few days, social media platforms have been agog over popular Nigerian artiste, Tuface (Innocent Idibia) call for massive nationwide protest on Sunday February 5, 2017. The spontaneous popularity enjoyed by the call shows the intense anger and frustration brewing within society at the gross failure of the Buhari/All Progressive Congress (APC) government which has succeeded in turning the glowing expectations of the people into disappointment within the space of barely 2 years.

According to the statement posted on his Instagram page “We the people of this country not living under the privileges of government allowances and remuneration have now accepted to take the bull by the horn to come out and protest this obnoxious and baseless policies and excuses of the government of the day”.

This is “A call for good governance. A call for urgent explanation into the reckless economic downturn nationwide. A call for nationwide protests as we say No to the Executive, No to legislatures, No to judiciary… You have all failed us. We the people are tired. We can no longer continue with all of you. All your excuses and mistakes are not funny. We do not wish to continue with a system and government that is not working but afflicting the people”.

Since this statement announcing the protest was posted online, a few other musical celebrities have reportedly endorsed it. This is aside countless number of people who have retweeted and shared the post several times thus making the call a major trending topic on social media.

The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) fully endorses this call. At this period of intense hardship, only mass struggle can begin to challenge and roll back the unrelenting assault on our living standards. We fully agree with the statement that the entire Buhari government has failed the working class and poor masses. However, the PDP and all other capitalist parties are equally guilty.

While the previous PDP/Jonathan government set the economy onto the path of a recession through mind-boggling corruption and looting of the proceeds of the oil boom, the Buhari government working within the confines of a failed capitalist system has helped to deepen the economic crisis the more. This he succeeded in doing by implementing measures that not only unleash the consequence of the crisis on those who benefitted nothing during the boom (e.g. working people, middle class, poor and ordinary Nigerians) but that would also ensure that even if growth picks up at some point in future, millions of people will continue to live in conditions of depression for many years to come.

Unfortunately, since the last one week that the announcement of the protest was made, there has been no further details released about how the protest is going to take place, where protesters would gather and of course what the demands should be. This has unfortunately created an element of confusion with many asking what they are meant to do on February 5.

The ERC calls on the organizers to urgently update the public about plans for the protest as well as gathering points in key cities and communities that the protests are meant to take place. This will go a long way to energize the mass of the people who are already primed for action. Perhaps for reasons of safety given the government penchant for repression the organizers may wish to keep further details of the planned protest secret. However the ERC feels that while safety is important, this should not now undermine the ability to effectively communicate important details of the protest as well as plans for wide mobilization.

In conclusion, the current development is an indictment on the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC). That musical celebrities like Tuface have to call for nationwide protest is because the labour leadership have failed to play their roles as the historical and traditional leaders of the struggles of the working class and oppressed masses. Instead of calling for strikes and mass actions, all the NLC and TUC have been doing is issuing harmless statements threatening actions that never take place. Meanwhile the conditions of hardship in which majority of Nigerians are wallowing continue to grow worse every day. There is a similarity between the current situation and that which existed in January 2012 when the working masses and youth were already on the streets across the country protesting the hike in pump price of fuel by the Jonathan/PDP administration before the NLC and TUC was able to call an indefinite general strike starting from January 9, 2012.  So bad is the situation in the labour movement that leadership of labour often lag behind the consciousness of their own members and the mass of working people outside of the unions.

Meanwhile, the enormous popularity that Tuface’s call for a nationwide protest has enjoyed shows that there is a developing mood for a fight back. People are tired of the situation and most especially the fact that nothing is being done by labour and civil society organizations. This should therefore be a wakeup call on the leadership of the NLC and TUC to act now. In its January 1st statement, the NLC had threatened that it would no more be able to guarantee industrial peace by May 1st if the national minimum wage is not reviewed. The current situation however shows that people are not prepared to wait till May 1st before fighting back not just on minimum wage but on all the other issues that affects all categories of working class and poor people. Therefore, the struggle must start now.

The ERC demands that an emergency meeting of the principal organs of the NLC and TUC to discuss the economic crisis and the intense hardship under which Nigerians are growing with a view to rolling out immediate plans of actions that would include a general strike and mass protest to begin the struggle to liberate the working people from the shackles and manacles of capitalism which is behind the failure and inability of the Buhari/APC administration to make any positive difference in the last 18 months. Most importantly labour urgently need to come out with a plan to build an alternative working peoples political party to fight for political power. This is because the failure of the Buhari administration is first and foremost a failure of capitalism and only the building of a socialist alternative can open the way for resolving the political and economic crisis afflicting Nigeria.


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