Friday, 12 October 2012


For immediate opening of the university and conduct of examinations
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) calls for the immediate opening of the Abia State University (ABSU) which was shut on Wednesday October 10, 2012 by the management in response to students protest against attempts by the management to bar a large proportion of them from writing examinations unless they paid the recently hiked school fees.

We condemn the closure as well as the fee hike which we consider as anti-poor. We therefore also demand the reversal of the hiked fees and for students to be allowed to write examinations.

The University owned by the Abia state government recently hiked its fees without taking into cognizance the poor working class backgrounds of majority of its students and the dire economic straits in which most working parents are in due to low pay and severe increase in the cost of living.

The ERC believes the "no-fee-no-examination" directive of the university management was provocative and was the cause of students' protest. By this directive, what the university management was telling students was to do anything they could to pay within a week a fee they could not afford to pay for a whole 2 semesters!

Is this not the kind of pressure, caused by government anti-poor policies such as fee hike, that forces the youth into life of crime and prostitution?

Without the protest, a large proportion of students would have to take the only option available which is to drop out of school or go stealing. Early in the year, a similar fate befell over 2000 prospective students of the Lagos State University (LASU) who had to forfeit their admission when the University's fee was increased from N25,000 to between N193, 750 and N348, 750.

These are the horrible consequences of the anti-poor education policies of government at all levels in Nigeria and the protest of ABSU students is an instructive signal that Nigerian students would have none of it anymore.

We demand to know what the Abia State government is doing with its federal allocations and internally generated revenue if it cannot provide sufficient funds for its University without having to heap the burden on poor parents. Evidently much of the state resources needed to fund education and other social services are looted by politicians and their agents.

We therefore call for adequate funding of the university and democratic management of its affairs and resources with elected representatives of the education workers and students.

We fully support the protest and urge the students not to relent until the fees are reversed. To win, the students have to organize themselves peacefully by holding regular meetings to democratically draw out programs and activities to fight for reversal of the fee hike and re-activities opening of the university.

Hassan Taiwo Soweto
National Coordinator


Abbey speaking at a Symposium Organised by DSM at University of Ibadan
 My profound appreciation goes to the organizers of this workshop particularly the leadership and members of Ibadan North branch of Oyo State wing of Nigeria Union of Teacher (NUT) for thinking it worthy toinvite me as the GUEST SPEAKER of this year edition of world teacher day.
As a socialist, I am personally enthused with the theme of this workshop: Take a stand for Teachers, which in my opinion is like a clarion call on the leadership of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), the representative of both primary and secondary school teachers to kick-start the process of organizing, mobilizing and educating Nigeria teachers both in private and public school towards the direction of making sure that, the Nigeria government at all level  pay  necessary attentions to teachers concerns and priorities regarding education.
It will be recalled that one of the reason of inaugurating the world teachers day by United Nation Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO),  in 1994 was to have a particular day set aside through which Teachers all over the world will always come together to  highlight their concerns and priorities regarding education.
Worthy to note that, the world teachers' day we celebrate today was a product of concerted effort and agitation of Education international, a global union federation of teachers' trade union. In 1966, the, EI through its agitation forced the special intergovernmental conference to adopt UNESCO/ International labor Organization, ILO recommendations which for the first time gave teacher an instrument which define their responsibilities and assert their rights. It was the adoption of these recommendations that made it possible for UNESCO in 1994 to be able to set aside every 5th October as the day to commemorate the world teachers' day.
 Unfortunately, despite the fact that Nigeria  had always been among 100 countries where teachers  commemorate this day  yearly, the terrible condition such as poor welfare package and absence of necessary working tools, under which  Nigeria teachers work had clearly showed how Nigeria government at all level had consciously failed to  pay necessary attention to teachers concerns and priorities regarding education thus weakening their morale.
Take for instance, in most public schools across the country; classrooms building are in rickety condition with their roofs leaking and walls collapsing. Most often, students are forced to take their classes under the trees. Most cases, primary and secondary schools are over crowded with more than 100 pupils per class/teacher, as against the teacher to students' ratio of 1:35 recommended by the UNESCO.
Sometime a school having a student population of 8000 or above maintains only one teacher in compulsory subject like mathematics, English, biology who in most cases has to handle the same subject from JSS1 class to SS3 class! Having a single teacher handing such a large class, means that the teacher will be unable to assess his/her student effectively.
Again, teachers being in the category of other professionals like doctor, lawyers, engineers are supposed to be placed on professional salary scale. This was the crux of TSS agitation which lasted for months in 2008. After, five month of this struggle, the federal government as well as state governors under the platform of Governor Forum signed an agreement with the National leadership of NUT which stipulated that the salary of Nigeria teachers in public schools most  be increased by 27.5% of their basic salary.
It is quite painful to remark that, four years after signing this agreement, not fewer than 16 states across the country are yet to honor this agreement. Even, Governor of states where the 27.5% pay rise is being implemented, have made series of attempts to consciously discontinue the implementation of the gain of over five months nationwide TSS struggle. Notably among states where this attempt was made is Oyo State, where the so called progressive ACN -led government attempted in its bid to renege from the full implementation of N18, 000 minimum wage  to discontinue the implementation of 27.5% pay rise for Oyo State Teachers. Having failed in this bid, the Oyo State government further went ahead to sack 3000 teachers in its false claims of curbing crime and immoralities.
As we of DSM had repeatedly and severally stated we condemn the allegation of sharp practices like forgery, corruption and falsification of age/certificate upon which the sack of the affected workers was predicated. At the same time we condemn the attitude of the Oyo State ACN-led government for sacking workers based on allegations without providing an avenue of fair hearing for the affected workers to defend themselves against the alleged offence. It is on this basis we maintained that the two review panels whose constitution further question the veracity of the entire process under which the sack was predicated were like a medicine after death!
However, I learnt that over 1000 of the sacked teachers were just reinstated few days ago. Assuming one of the reinstated teachers was among those that already died due to a shock which emanated from their sack, what kind of compensation can the government give to such a dead person?
In private schools the condition of teachers is far worse. Teachers are not even allowed to participate or observe the world teachers' day. This is because almost all private schools are run with casual teachers. These are category of teachers who were employed without employment letter and they are usually dismissed verbally because they lack any union protection. Salary increase is unheard of in such employment. Infact, a teacher is usually made to teach as many as possible subjects and classes. This helps the proprietor to reduce the number of teachers to be employed.
Pregnant female teachers are disallowed to proceed on maternity leave which would mean other teachers would have to be employed to replace them. In some cases, in many interviews, female teachers are warned before employment not to get pregnant if they have not worked for five years. Official school closes at 2pm but teachers in private schools are made to work till 5pm. Pay is very low with no hope of increase unless the proprietor or owner is benevolent enough to see the need for it.
I have decided to give this long background of the plight of Nigerian teachers, just to show the kind of "attention" Nigeria government and Private owner of schools had been paying to teachers as well as education. Therefore, to roll back and reverse this ugly and terrible trend, Nigerian teachers and teaching profession is subjected to, the leadership of NUT at all level must as a matter of urgency take a stand for teachers.
To take a stand for teachers means that NUT must insist that teachers deserve living wage, as well as better working condition and environment. In addition, the NUT must join other education workers unions like Academic Staff of University Union, ASUU to continue the call for proper funding of public education by government at all levels in order to guarantee adequate provision of functional facilities and well-motivated manpower for quality education. NUT must also consider as part of its stand to be taken for teachers to consciously and seriously pursue the necessity to unionize teachers in private schools across the country.
Again, in taking a stand for teachers, the NUT must refute the deceit that Nigeria government can not fund education alone. Infact, recently statistics showed that Nigeria 's crude oil production daily is 2.5 million barrel. At the rate of $133 that a barrel of crude oil is currently sold at the international market, Nigeria makes not less than $282.5million; $8.475billion; $101.7billion on daily, monthly and yearly basis respectively. The Naira equivalent of this figure is N16.272tr/yrs. With 2012 estimated budget of N4.5tr, there is a huge sum of N11.772tr the Nigerian ruling class and its representative in government cannot account for.

If the money the Nigerian state makes from the sale of crude oil alone is well utilized and democratically used, it is enough to begin to transform the entire educational sector as well as  other sectors of the economy. But as long as various neo-liberal policies like privatization, commercialization, devaluation, commercialization, retrenchment, deregulation among others remain the economic philosophy of various governments across the country formed on the basis of pro-rich, anti-workers political parties like PDP, ACN, ACCORD, APGA, LP etc social services like education, health will always be starved of adequate funding

Given this background, I strongly hold that, NUT must prioritize the need to fight all forms of neo-liberal policies as part of the stand it has to take for teachers. This kind of fight against all kinds of neo-liberal policies must be seen as a basis toward a socialist transformation and reconstruction of Nigerian state.
As a Socialist am convinced that only a socialist Nigeria where the commanding heights of the economy are nationalized and placed under the democratic control and management of the workers and poor that can guarantee an adequate funding of education as well as other social services thereby permanently reversing the ugly trend of poor condition and environment in which Nigerian teachers work as well as the poor state of Nigeria education.
In the light of this, I hereby use this forum to call on all of us here present today as well as the leadership of NUT at National, State and local level to join us in Democratic socialist movement (DSM) in our campaign for a socialist transformation of Nigeria.
Again as we are approaching another election year to elect those who will be leading our union in the next four years. I will like to call on us to be vigilant and diligent to make sure that only a credible leader that will be able to take a stand for us is democratically allowed to emerge. Such a leader must be able to take a stand in addition to the one highlighted above to maintain that Oyo state workers deserve: a full implementation of N18, 000 minimum wage across board as well as  right to full and gainful employment.
Aluta Continua Victoria Acerta

Protest marches, rallies and other activities mark October 1st independence celebration

More actions needed to challenge fee hike and education underfunding
Report of DSM's campaign to build a movement to fight education attacks and anti-poor capitalist policies

On 1st October, 2012 - the 52nd anniversary of Nigeria's flag independence - protest marches broke out on two campuses and communities under the influence of Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) members. The DSM has an on-going campaign under the platform of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) against fee hikes and education underfunding.

Days before October 1, posters and leaflets of the Campaign had been circulated on some campuses calling on unions and the main students federation - the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) - to declare mass actions against the raging inferno of astronomical fee hikes and the inadequate funding of education which has continued unabated under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led Federal government and the state governments led by both the PDP and the opposition parties. 

Scandalously, at the forefront of the brazen attacks on the right to education is the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) - the foremost opposition party in Nigeria which claims adherence to the philosophy of late post-independence leader, Obafemi Awolowo. However in sharp contrast to the free education policy espoused by Awolowo, fees in universities under the auspices of ACN - led state governments have been hiked by more than a 100% in recent times. Over 2,000 candidates forfeited their admission into the Lagos State University (LASU) early in the year when fees were increased from N25, 000 to between N193, 750 to over N348, 750!

On October 1 in most places members of the DSM mobilized and led the protests. In Ibadan Oyo State, about 2,000 students and workers marched from the University of Ibadan (U.I) gate into the surrounding communities under the banners of the Joint Action Front (JAF) and Education Rights Campaign (ERC). Close to a 100 marched in Lagos in a demo called by the National Association of Nigerian (NANS) ZoneD.

Likewise, about 30 rallied at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) demanding restoration of the Students' Union banned last year for leading peaceful protests against fee hikes. In the leadership of the action were members of the DSM who called the rally to build support for our campaign against University authority's schemes to restore a toothless union through various undemocratic requirements for new union election. A symposium organised by the DSM a week before attracted over 50 with 18 students expressing interests in joining us.
Ajegunle DSM Tabling (Paper Sale) on October 1 at Boundary Area of the community

In the Ajegunle community in Lagos DSM members held a stall in the community selling Socialist Democracy, sold 11 copies of the Socialist Democracy while getting 2 contacts interested in the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) and our campaign for a new mass workers party. A successful stall was also organised by DSM members at the popular Olaiya Roundabout in Osogbo, Osun State. The reports below from branches capture the mood for change on October 1.

OYO: Over 2,000 marched for adequately public funded education and against anti-poor policies

By Iseru Ebike

The Oyo State chapter of the Joint Action Front (JAF) and the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) jointly staged a protest march against the government's neo-liberal policies of full deregulation of oil sector, privatization of public-owned companies like the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), commercialization of education, devaluation among others. The continuous implementation of these policies has condemned millions of Nigerians working masses into a ridiculous and unthinkable state of misery and penury.

A few days prior to the march protest, the DSM had moved around the University of Ibadan (UI) campus to massively post posters and circulate leaflets produced by the ERC on the planned fees increase as recommended by Stephen Oronsanye Committee and how to fight the anti-poor agenda. The comrades also used the occasion to mobilize mass of students for October 1 action as a step towards fighting the attack on public education and joining the JAF in the struggle against fuel hike and other anti-poor policies. The mass turnout of the students on October was a product of this effort.

The protest march which kicked-off around 8am witnessed a massive participation of about 2000 people including workers, students, artisans many of whom were organized. Unions like Academic Staff union of Universities (ASUU), Senior Staff Association of University (SSANU), Non-academic Staff Union (NASU), Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), UI's Students' Union among others. There was equally a huge presence of the police.

After converging at the front of the UI main gate, the demo split into two - one led by JAF and the other by the ERC to march into the surrounding communities. The JAF detachment led by Dr. Demola Aremu, the State Coordinator of JAF, marched towards Samonda, Sango, Elewure, Bodija Housing Estate and at favour junction, re-united again with the student detachment led by the ERC which had marched towards Bodija Market and Bodija Oju-Irin.

Notably among those who addressed the gathering were: Dr Demola Aremu, Dr Segun Ajiboye, the Chairman, ASUU-UI chapter, Bashiru Olanrewaju, the Chairman, Oyo State Chapter of NLC, Rashida Adeshina, the JAF National Assistant Secretary who joined the protest from Lagos; Femi Aborishade, a socialist activist, and Comrade Ola Jimoh, who doubles as the Co-ordinator ERC and Secretary of DSM UI branch.

JAF led protest in Ibadan on October 1

During the course of the demo, various placards were displayed which carried various inscriptions like: "Nigeria at 52 still crawling like a toddler", "Stop unemployment and poverty now", "No to privatization of PHCN and casualisation now", "Education must be free, Nigerian Students say no to Oransanye Report", etc were visibly carried by over hundred protesters. Several thousands of leaflets from different organizations like JAF, DSM and the ERC were circulated.
The DSM also used the occasion to call on workers and youths to join the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) and help build it as it as a fighting and true revolutionary party for workers and poor towards the conquest of political power

About 20 members of DSM, including two sympathisers from Ladoke Akintola University Technology, (LAUTECH) Ogbomosho participated, in the protest. 50 copies of Socialist Democracy (SD) were sold. At the end the protest 6 people expressed an interest in joining the DSM.

OAU: A march for education and an independent union
By Oluwole Engels, Secretary ERC OAU

On October 1st, a small but determined demo of about 30 took place at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. The demo was organised by the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) to highlight the conditions of education 52 years after independence and to draw support for the campaign for restoration of an independent Students' Union in OAU. 

The protest which started by 9am took off from the Anglo-Moz car park with students carrying placards bearing various inscriptions. This depicted their displeasure concerning the educational sector and their demands. Some of the inscriptions on the placards were; 'N450, 000 - N525, 000 tuition we can't pay', 'we demand 26% budgetary allocation to the educational system', 'For democratic management of universities with elected representatives of workers and students', 'No to Oronsaye committee report', 'No to education underfunding', 'we demand a democratic and independent union', 'pay 40, 000 COSA to all students now' and many more. 

The small demo is significant given the prevailing situation of despondency on the campus as a result of the illegal ban on the students union. Not minding the heavy presence of the security outfit of the university administration, a few determined students came out to join the protest. The demand for a democratic restoration of OAU students union was prominent at the demo. The procession ended at the students' union building (SUB) with speeches from DSM members and student activists. 

The pockets of protests nationwide on Independence Day showed that students are not at peace with the rotten state of the Nigerian educational system and that a fighting and democratic students' movement is needed to challenge government capitalist attack on education. Definitely this mass action of students should not be the end of the fight against government attack on education but as the beginning of a campaign for more coordinated actions in the future.

LAGOS: Close to hundred protest attack on public education

By HT Soweto National Coordinator ERC

In Lagos close to a 100 students from various higher institutions marched at a protest called by the NANS Zone D (the South West leadership of NANS). 3 members of the DSM in Lagos joined them with the ERC banner and circulated the leaflet of the campaign. We sold 8 copies of the Socialist Democracy.

Due to tardiness of the leadership, the demo could only kick off late in the afternoon. As a result and coupled with the low turnout (Indeed, only two of the seven member Zone D leadership came for the action), the leadership had to hurriedly change from the original plan of the demo which was supposed to be an elaborate march through the city to just protest to nearby media houses. An elaborate march requires a bigger crowd and of course an earlier start!
ERC at NANS Zone D Independence Day Protest
 However members of the Socialist Workers League (SWL), a group who the Zone D Assistant General Secretary is a member of, chose to carry their own banner at the front of the demo trying to create the impression that it was a SWL demo. There was not a single banner of the NANS Zone D which purportedly called the demo! Except for the NANS Zone D Assistant Secretary and its Public Relations Officer, no other officials including Zonal Coordinator were at the demo.

Simply placing your own banner at the front of a demo or activity is not a Marxist method of seriously intervening in a mass organisation which the NANS represents. The ERC was at the demo, so also was a civil society organisation - the Veteran Groups for Operation Clean Crusade (VGOCC). However neither of these organizations was acknowledged by the leadership and none was asked to give solidarity speeches! While this could give the SWL a momentary but false sense of its influence, it is nevertheless an undemocratic method that could be latched upon by the rightwing to discredit the left. This would of course make nonsense of any avowed efforts to rebuild the NANS.

While applauding the NANS Zone D for calling a demo - something which has not happened in recent years! - the reality is that a turnout of less than 100 is abysmal. Rather than a reflection of the real mood of students, this low turnout is a reflection of the Zone D leadership's poor mobilization. Posters for the demo left the printers' stable on Friday September 29 – the weekend before the demo! NANS Zone D is a federation of close to 48 higher institutions which translates to hundreds of thousands of members! A day of mobilization activities just at the Lagos State University (LASU) could have brought several hundreds to the demo. This was the same campus where, just two weeks before October 1, first year students had organised independently of their compromising union leaders in a protest demanding reversal of the over 725% fee hike.

Instead, the NANS Zone D leadership concentrated on mobilizing student union leaders most of whom are opposed to anti-fee struggles on their own campuses and are really the obstacle to a serious battle against fee hike. However for all their efforts, they were rebuffed by the union leaders who demanded bribes if they were to come!

The poor planning for the action was further underscored by the fact no leaflet was produced for mass circulation in the course of an action that had been originally billed to involve a protest march from Yaba to Ojota – a distance of about 4km. 

Despite the bungling of the SWL, the demo did still make an echo with bystanders who shouted greetings in solidarity.

The DSM through the ERC campaign will continue to urge unions and NANS to call for united mass actions against fee hike and other capitalist attacks on education while emphasizing the importance of proper mobilisation of rank and file students this time around. Instead of the undemocratic method of the SWL which poses a grave danger to the prospects of building a strong and wide movement against fee hike and education attacks, we call for an immediate congress of the zone to discuss on what next after the October 1st demo.

OSOGBO: Successful Paper Sale on Independence Day
By Ayo Ademiluyi

Following a branch meeting of the Democratic Socialist Movement, Osogbo members resolved to organize a public sale of the DSM paper, Socialist Democracy, on the Independence Day anniversary at the popular Olaiya Roundabout in the Osogbo metropolis and equally be ready to intervene in possible mass actions that would break out based on the groundswell of anger growing against the wave of anti-poor capitalist policies.
As early as 9am, comrades had set up the stand at the Roundabout and displayed the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) and DSM banner. Equally, SPN leaflets produced on minimum wage struggle were in abundance for circulation.

The paper sales afforded comrades the opportunity to gauge the consciousness of the broad layers of the working masses through discussions. A Youth Corps member took time out to reflect with us the appalling state of things under the current capitalist arrangement and the need for a socialist alternative. He subsequently signed up to join the SPN in the state with many others also promising to join us at our Sunday meetings at our Station Road Secretariat.

In all, 16 copies of the Socialist Democracy were sold and hundreds of SPN leaflets were handed out. We also submitted a press statement calling for resumption of mass actions against total removal of the so-called fuel subsidy and fresh fuel price hike, which was published by Vanguard and the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).