“On my way to this meeting, I saw the APC Lagos State Government distributing pepper-grinding machines to women. Yes this is a “dividend of democracy… But something came to my mind and I started wondering… if my mother were to be fortunate enough to be given a pepper-grinding machine, how much pepper would she grind before saving enough to pay my school fees in LASU?”
This comment by a LASU student captures the strong mood against the obnoxious fee regime in Lagos State University at the Public meeting on the crisis rocking the University organized by the Education Rights Campaign (ERC).
It would be recalled that the university was shut down indefinitely over the protest that broke out over the demand for the re-opening of the registration portal for students that failed to meet up with the registration deadline before the examinations. While the university management as well as the Lagos State government has begun a campaign of calumny against the protesting students some in the media and civil society playing a willful ally in a conspiracy of silence on the true side of the students’ agonies. The public meeting organized by the ERC is to rally the new forces that have just entered the struggle arena with the aim of renewing discussions on how to take the struggle forward.
|Nurudeen Yusuf (Optimist)President-Elect LASU Students Union|
Keye Ewebiyi, a former General Secretary of the Students ’ Union of the University and a member of ERC, who chaired the meeting, commended the Executive-elect of the LASU Students’ Union including the President and the Public Relations Officer for making the meeting. Hassan Taiwo Soweto, the National Coordinator of the ERC in his opening speech underlined the fee hike in LASU as the root of the present crisis in the university and argued for the need to raise clear demands on the reversal of the fee hike, non-payment of damages, non-victimization of students and increase in the budgetary allocation to LASU by the Lagos State Government with a democratic control of education workers and students.
|Participants at the meeting|
The President-elect, in his speech, placed the blame of the crisis that broke out in the university on the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Obafunwa based on his highhandedness. Pelad (member of DSM National Executive Committee of the Democratic Socialist Movement and the National Mobilization of the Joint Action Front (JAF), in his solidarity speech, raised the possibility of defeating the fee hike through collective mass mobilization.
Olajide and Tunde John, who are both members of the LASU Alumni challenged the current students of the university and their Union to resist the obnoxious fee regime as the former fees were a product of past struggles. Fawale Segun and Onikoro Adeyemi, who are parts of the 1,292 students affected by the closure of the registration portal, disclosed to the meeting their preparedness to mobilize other affected students for further mass actions, which the ERC and the Students’ Union should be prepared to lead.
|Onikoro Adeyemi, Chairman, SAVE LASU CAMPAIGN Committee set up at the meeting|
It was resolved that an online petition rejecting the resolutions of the Lagos State House of Assembly should be drafted and put on the social media (especially the Facebook) with a campaign ash-tag on Twitter #SAVE LASU. The meeting also elected an eleven-member SAVE LASU Campaign Committee with Onikoro Adeyemi as Chairman. The meeting resolved to convene again on Saturday February 8, 2014 with the aim of organizing a press conference on Wednesday February 12, 2014 and to fix a date of protest march on the Lagos State House of Assembly to submit the petition rejecting the resolution of the Lagos State House of Assembly on the crisis.
|One of LASU Students|
The meeting ended on a renewed mood to fight the attacks of the APC–led Lagos state government and a desperate search among young people for a genuine political alternative. Two copies of the new ERC pamphlet, LASU: A Crisis Foretold, were sold as well as two copies of the Marxist literature on sale with some students showing interest in joining the DSM and ERC. A sum of N770 was realized as struggle fund. 23 people attended the meeting and dispersed with a strong resolve to mobilize more students and members of the public for the next meeting.