COMMUNIQUE OF A PUBLIC MEEETING ORGANISED BY THE EDUCATION RIGHTS CAMPAIGN (ERC) ON SUNDAY FEBRUARY 2ND 2014 TO DISCUSS THE CRISIS THAT BROKE OUT ON THE MAIN CAMPUS OF THE LAGOS STATE UNIVERSITY (LASU) ON JANUARY 22 AND 23 2014
On Sunday February 2nd 2014, the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) organized a public meeting to discuss the on-going crisis at the Lagos State University.
The meeting which held at the National Secretariat of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) at No 162, Agbotikuyo Bus Stop, Ipaja Road, Agege Lagos had in attendance students of LASU from all levels, members of LASU alumni, the Public Relation Officer of the National Union of Lagos State Students (NULASS), the President, Public Relations Officer and Social Director of the newly elected executive of the Lagos State University Students Union, leaders of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) and concerned members of the public.
The meeting was called against the background of the 6-point resolution of the Lagos State Assembly which sought to put the entire blame of the crisis that occurred in LASU on the students alone without sparing a thought for the insensitive actions of the University management particularly the Vice chancellor as well as the root cause of the crisis which is the fee hike
After several hours of exhaustive deliberation, the meeting agreed as follows:
(1) That the protest of Wednesday and Thursday 22 and 23 January 2014 as well as the inability of about 1,292 students to register have as their root causes the outrageous fee hike to between N193,750 and N348,750 carried out by the Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola Government in September 2011 against the wish of students, members of the University community and Lagosians. The meeting observed that the fee hike is anti-poor and has not led to any noticeable improvement in facilities and teaching infrastructures in LASU. Rather it has led to a sharp decline in the fortunes of LASU with many departments and programs now facing possible rationalisation and closure because of the few number of students applying for them or being able to pick up offer of admission as a result of high fees. The sharp decline in student enrolment has also seriously threatened the jobs of both academic and non-academic staffs in the university. Without reversing the fees, there is no guarantee that this same crisis or something far higher than this will not occur in future especially because the living standards and income of many working class families are declining thus making it difficult for parents to continue to afford the outrageous fee every session.
(2) That while we do not endorse violence as a method of struggle and agitation for just demands, the blame for the crisis of Thursday January 23 should be laid firmly at the doorstep of the University's Vice Chancellor whose insensitive actions especially his refusal to listen to the plea of students who besieged his office from morning till evening of Wednesday January 22 pushed students to the wall and compelled them to take the only course of action available to avoid repeat of the Semester. As the meeting observed even domesticated animals when pushed to the wall are forced to react. The reality is that the University had the golden opportunity of averting the crisis on Wednesday but in an arrogant manner threw this opportunity away while daring students to do their worst.
(3) The meeting agreed that the resolutions of the Lagos House of Assembly (LAHA) are one-sided, unjust and an attempt to lay the entire blame at the feet of students while covering up the real issues that led to the crisis which is the fee increment and the Vice Chancellors arbitrariness and insensitivity. The meeting noted that the Assembly while raising concerns about the destruction of some properties of the institution while the protest lasted failed to show the same concern for the several LASU students who were injured and hospitalised as a result of the mayhem unleashed on them by trigger-happy policemen. While the Speaker visited the University to inspect the properties allegedly destroyed, no similar visits were paid to injured students who were at the period receiving treatments at the hospital. The meeting wondered whether human lives are now so unimportant and dispensable in Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola's vision of Lagos as a Mega City!
(4) The meeting observed that out of all the resolutions of the assembly, only the one that expressly advised the University Management to open the portal for two days is agreeable to students. However the meeting noted that unless fee hike is immediately reversed, there is no guarantee all the 1,292 students would be able to complete their registration within the two-day grace period. The meeting vowed to fight until all 1,292 students complete their registration and write examinations.
(5) In opposition to the LAHA 6-point resolutions, the meeting therefore agreed to the following 6-point demands:
6-POINT DEMANDS TO LAHA AND THE STATE GOVERNMENT
(a) Reversal of the fee hike
(b) Opening of LASU so that students can register and write examinations
(c) Improvement in the funding of LASU and democratic management of the institution
(d) No victimisation of any student of the institution
(e) No payment of reparation. Repairs of properties allegedly vandalised during the protest should be carried out by using the proceed from the caution fee that all LASU students pay.
(f) Written and publicized apology letters from both the University management and Lagos State government to all LASUITES
(6) The meeting agreed to begin active mobilisation of all LASU students, parents of LASU students and members of the public and to partner with civil society organizations, university's staff unions and trade unions to seek redress to the injustice contained in the resolutions of the Lagos State House of Assembly. For this purpose the following action plan was drawn up:
ACTION PLAN TO SEEK REDRESS
(1) Meeting agreed to start an online petition on the LASU crisis to gather signatures of all those who want a redress and justice especially around the above demands. Meeting also agreed to launch a social media campaign under the hashtag #SaveLASU to mobilise public opinion against the outrageous fee hike in LASU and to seek redress to the cases of injustice cited above.
(2) Meeting agreed that this petition will be submitted with a peaceful protest march to the Lagos State House of Assembly
(3) Meeting agreed to organise a press conference on Wednesday 12 February 2014 where the date of the protest march will be announced.
(4) Meeting agreed to reconvene on Saturday 8 February 2014 at the same venue to take further decisions on how to build the campaign including picking a date for the proposed protest to the Lagos State House of Assembly.
(5) Meeting set up an 11-man SAVE LASU CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE chaired by Comrade Sulaimon Onikoro Adeyemi with a mandate to coordinate the struggle and ensure constant mobilisation of LASUITES and concerned members of the public to all meetings and activities until all the demands of the struggle are won.
(6) Meeting ended with a clarion call on LASU students, parents, activists and all those who want a redress to the injustice meted out to LASU by the State government to attend in their large numbers the next meeting scheduled to hold by 10am on Saturday February 8, 2014 at the ERC National Secretariat situated at No 162, Ipaja Road, Agbotikuyo Bus Stop, Agege Lagos.
Aluta Continua! Victoria Ascerta!
Hassan Taiwo Soweto Sulaimon Onikoro Adeyemi
National Coordinator, ERC Chairman, SAVE LASU CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE07033697259 08022298117