Protest Declared for Tuesday 18 February 2014
By Ayo Ademiluyi
On Wednesday 12 February 2014, the Education Rights’ Campaign (ERC) in collaboration with the Lagos State University Students Union addressed a press conference at the International Press Centre, Ogba Lagos on the crisis at the Lagos State University (LASU).
The press conference was organized for the purposes of introducing the #SaveLASU Campaign and to shed light on the recent crisis that has bedeviled the Lagos State University as well as to discuss and bring to the fore the root cause of the crisis.
It would be recalled that the Education Rights Campaign initiated the #SAVE LASU Campaign alongside the Students’ Union Executive-elect of the Lagos State University, the leadership of National Union of Lagos State Students (NULASS), radical and progressive groups in LASU. This was a product of two public meetings on the crisis rocking the Lagos State University organized by ERC on the February 2nd and February 8th 2014. The public meetings drew together students of LASU, who are embittered with the obnoxious fee regime in the university and the arbitrary administration of the university, which led to the spontaneous protests upon which the university was closed.
The initiative was against the backdrop of the protest held on January 23rd, 2014 at the Lagos State University which broke out over the closure of the registration portal against 1,292 students of the University. However, the protest in itself was an overspill of anger against the obnoxious fee regime in the university as well as the bankrupt policies of the Lagos State government including the underfunding of the university and poor learning environment in the university.
|HT Soweto ERC National Coordinator reading #Save LASU Campaign statement at the Press Conference|
Keye Ewebiyi, former General Secretary of the Students’ Union of the Lagos State University and member of the ERC, who moderated the press conference challenged the media to break the silence over the underlying root of the crisis in LASU and support the #SAVE LASU campaign in achieving its demand for the reversal of the fee increment.
ERC National Coordinator, Hassan Taiwo Soweto, thereafter read the press text which was started with the introduction #SaveLASU and its commitment to struggle to ensure that the outrageous regime of fees which has endangered the university with rapid decline in student enrollment and looming sack of workers is reversed. He gave various statistics that reveal very scary situation of things at the university. (See the text of the press conference)
According to Soweto "the APC's megacity agenda is a mega fraud to create a Lagos for the rich only. Megacity means Mega fees in LASU, it means Mega profit for the rich and Mega suffering for the rest of us. We in the ERC and the #SaveLASU movement have also decided to give them mega protest and mega resistance until our demands are met!"
He concluded that the #SaveLASU movement has decided to peacefully march to the Lagos State House of Assembly on Tuesday 18 February 2014 to submit a petition demanding the immediate reopening of LASU and opening of registration portal for students to write examinations, reversal of the fee hike, adequate funding of the university, democratic management of the university, non-payment of reparation and non-victimization of any of the students.
|Students at the press conference|
Macaulay Jamiu, the Speaker of the Communications Students’ Association (COSA) spoke next and underlined the fact that Ogun State, which generates a lower Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) maintain three state Universities while the Lagos state government has been unable to maintain its single state university. Fatoyinbo Ibrahim, the President of Communications Students’ Association raised the fact that the proper funding of the university is not beyond the capacity of the Lagos State Government and the reversal of the fee hike is non-negotiable.
Twenty three media organisations (print and electronic) attended the press conference. Members of the press who commented expressed their deep support for the #SAVE LASU Campaign and urged them to step up mass mobilization. This expression of support from the press shows the widespread sympathy among the broad layers of the working masses that the campaign enjoys.
|Journalists and TV cameras|
This was further demonstrated during the course of the mass sensitization rally embarked upon around Ogba area by the #SAVE LASU campaign where okada riders, bus drivers and traders commended the students and encouraged them to keep up the struggle. The student leaders also took time to address the mass of people around the market and the parks on why they were embarking on the protest rally. The rally ended on the note of renewed commitment to mobilise for the protest march to the Lagos State House of Assembly on the 18th of February, 2014.
|Sensitisation Rally in Ogba Lagos|