· Condemns NANS Participation
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) declares President Jonathan's National Conference a charade. The National Conference is an expensive sideshow that is not designed to address the country's challenges like mass unemployment, rotten public education sector, and degenerate public health services etc.
We condemn the participation of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) at the National Conference which has been convened by a deeply unpopular government looking for any straw to hang onto.
We do not expect any positive outcome from the conference as it is not a SOVEREIGN conference of the elected representatives of working and oppressed masses of Nigeria. Rather it is a gathering meant to rebuild the damaged reputation of the government by presenting a semblance that Nigerians are talking when indeed what is happening is that a few people have been invited closer to dine with the government and thereby reduce the opposition against this brutally anti-poor government.
ERC urge the mass of students not to entertain a single shred of hope that the six delegates presented by National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) will ever represent their best interests. The reasons are not far-fetched:
(1) NANS as an organisation has in the recent years failed woefully to represent the best interests of students concerning issues such as education funding and democratic management of schools. During the last strike of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) which was waged for adequate funding of the public universities, the national leadership of NANS came out in support of the Federal government. Right now public Polytechnics and Colleges of Education have been shut for months yet NANS has not deemed it urgent to call a nationwide protest to compel government to meet ASUP and COEASU's demands. Against this background, it should be clear to all discerning minds that the six delegate slots allocated to NANS is not an appreciation of the weight of the students population in society as some impressionable minds have said. Rather it is actually a celebration of the complete ideological capitulation of NANS to the government.
(2) The six delegates that would purportedly speak for students at the National Conference were not elected directly by the mass of students. So hasty and undemocratic was the Yinka-Gbadebo NANS leadership's urge to partake in the criminal wastage of our collective wealth which the National Conference actually is that the mass of students were not even consulted through local congresses to draw up a collective agenda which the six delegates are meant to canvass at the National Conference.
We therefore urge all Students' Unions across tertiary institutions to condemn NANS participation at the National Conference.
Instead of participating in a National Conference whose resolutions just like the Obasanjo Conference would be dumped in the lobby of the National Assembly and that is the end of it, NANS should begin an immediate mobilisation of rank and file of Nigeria students across various campuses to build a mass campaign for meeting of the demands of ASUP and COEASU, reversal of hiked fees at the Lagos State University (LASU), dropping of criminal charges against UNIUYO 44, proper funding of public education sector, right to independent students' unionism, against privatisation and commercialisation of public education sector and democratic running of schools.
We make bold to say none of these salient issues would be addressed by the National Conference and these are the issues that NANS need to fight over on the streets of Nigeria instead of scheming to benefit from the N7 billion National Conference largesse.
To us in the Education Rights Campaign (ERC), the pretentious political prognosis of the Jonathan National Confab will not in any way solve Nigeria's socio-political problems or salvage the poor conditions of the country's public education sector.
The national confab with delegates appointed from different ethnic, cultural, professional groups and civil societies is designed to promote President Jonathan's second term bid and not to address the country's political and socio-economic problems.
We strongly oppose this expensive sideshow and task the trade union movement to immediately call for mass actions towards mobilising the entire working class and poor masses to fight against underfunding of public education, mass unemployment, privatization and for provision of living minimum wage for workers, public ownership and democratic management of key sectors of the country economy.
Hassan Taiwo Soweto Michael Ogundele
National Coordinator National Secretary