ERC Salutes ASUU for Championing the Struggle to Save the Public University System from Collapse
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) warmly welcomes the leadership and members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to this year's edition of the biennial National Delegate Conference of the union.
No doubt ASUU has demonstrated how the rest of the oppressed masses of this country should organize to fight for their rights. Evidence of this is the ASUU strike of 2013 that forced the Federal Government to bow to the power of struggle by agreeing even if partially to begin to take seriously its responsibility to the funding of the public university system.
However, the "victory" of the 2013 strike is merely a dress rehearsal for bigger battles to save public education. The 200 billion Naira is not only too little, without a corresponding increase in government overall budgetary allocation to education, the N200 billion may have no real impact in repositioning the public University system. Unfortunately, the 2014 budget as usual allocated a paltry sum well below the UNESCO 26% benchmark reflecting that government mindset to underfund public education has not fundamentally changed.
Not only this. Today fees are being hiked astronomically beyond what students from poor working class background can afford. Lagos State University (LASU) and Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) are the latest examples of this agenda to price education out of the reach of the poor. We appeal for the support and solidarity of ASUU to resist these criminal policies of fee hike. If these hikes succeed, the campaign for the adequate funding of public education will suffer a general setback. This is aside the threat to jobs of academic and non-academic staff that astronomical fee hike constitutes as the situation in LASU now clearly demonstrates.
As resistance is growing in the education sector against the anti-poor policies of the government, attempts are being made to cause disaffection and disunity. The ERC believes that the interests of students, parents and education workers (academic and non-academic) in the Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education are the same. We want the repositioning of not just one sub-sector but of all aspects of our education sector.
This is why we urge ASUU to come out frontally to support the strike and demands of members of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) and the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) who have been on strike for months now. This solidarity is vital as a first step to begin to unite the workers and students in the education sector against the government.
We urge ASUU to follow this up with an "EDUCATION SUMMIT" which should be a MASS ASSEMBLY to which delegates of sister unions in the Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education will be invited as well as students, parents, NUT, trade unions, civil society organizations and all those concerned about the crisis of public education. We propose that the central aim of the summit should be to draw up proposals for repositioning the sector and also to formulate a program and action plan for a joint campaign to fight to save public education from collapse.
As Nigeria is enmeshed in numerous socio-economic, ethnic and religious crisis of various dimension, there is urgent need for a consistent voice for the working class and poor masses and an alternative political platform to liberate Nigeria from capitalism. Presently the bureaucratic leadership of the labour movement has capitulated to the neo-liberal agenda capitalist ruling elite on all fronts. Meanwhile none of the problems afflicting the working class, youth and poor masses of Nigeria can be resolved under capitalism.
The Boko Haram insurgency for instance cannot be ended without putting to an end the condition of mass poverty and joblessness in the midst of abundance which fuels discontent and ultimately violence.
We wish to boldly state that imperialist intervention will fail to end Boko Haram insurgency. As examples from Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya clearly illustrate, imperialist intervention will only deepen the crisis further. This is because it is the capitalist-engendered crisis of poverty in the midst of abundance that is responsible for Boko Haram insurgency in the first place. It is only by enthroning a workers and poor peoples' government armed with socialist policies that we can begin to solve this crisis.
As a fighting union that people look up to, ASUU has a duty and responsibility to offer a way out for all those who are looking for solutions to the Nation's woes. Every additional day the capitalist ruling elite remain in power is a prolongation of the condition of mass misery in the midst of plenty. We need a genuine political party that can represent the interests of the working class and poor and through which we can fight to take power from the corrupt ruling elite.
Already the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) to which the ERC is affiliated has taken steps in this direction by forming the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) and presently is seeking registration from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). We call for the support and collaboration of members of ASUU in the struggle to liberate Nigeria from the clutches of capitalism and imperialism.
Issued by the EDUCATION RIGHTS CAMPAIGN (ERC) - a platform formed by the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM). Tel: 07033697259, 07066249160