For united mass actions of Poly and Colleges of Education students fighting for implementation of agreements reached by government with ASUP and COEASU with University students resisting fee hike
We of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) today join millions of working people across the world to commemorate the anniversary of the June 16, 1976 massacre of students in Southwestern town, Soweto in South Africa. The callous murder of protesting school students by the then South African apartheid regime is a direct confirmation of the savage and cruel nature of the prevailing capitalist system across the world in its brutal attacks against the working people, students and youth.
This has found replication in Nigeria for instance through the unwarranted attacks on protesting students of Lagos State University by the Babatunde Fashola-led regime under the auspices of the All Progressives’ Congress (APC), which claims to be the alternative to the People’s Democratic Party. There was also brutal repression of protesting students of Polytechnics and Colleges of Education demanding that the demands of their striking lecturers be met in order for students to resume, given the twelve month-old deadlocked strike.
Thirty-eight years after the Soweto massacre, the fate of the Nigerian students and youth have not fared better under the barrage of neo-liberal attacks on education and resulting mass unemployment. In a bid to reverse the gains made through the strike action of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) last year, a fresh wave of fee hike is being implemented across Nigerian universities. Starting from Obafemi Awolowo University, (OAU) Ile-Ife, a university with the reputation of having relatively low fees, tuition fees have been increased astronomically for both stale and fresh students. The wave of fee hike is now blowing across University of Port-Harcourt and Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijebu-ode in Ogun State alongside the University of Lagos where students are being made to pay obnoxious amounts for late registration.
The case of Lagos State University (LASU) only shows that apart from the Federal Government, the state governments are only waiting to take a cue from the effort of fee increment by the Lagos state government in LASU before plunging the universities in their different states in the same direction .It can be submitted therefore that a grave attack is looming on education.
While struggles against the fee hikes have broken out across the campuses, what is urgently needed is a coordinated national action to draw together angry Poly and Colleges of Education students as well as students of the universities willing to struggle against fee hikes on their campuses. In this regard, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) is failing woefully as its leadership has remained handbags in the arms of different sections of the ruling class.
As a starting point, a coordinated day of lecture boycott across the Southwest to be called by the NANS Zone D should now on the agenda. A Senate meeting of NANS Zone D needs to be convened as soon as possible to draw up a comprehensive plan of action to unite the anti-fee hike protests with the anger of Polytechnics and Colleges of Education Students yearning to protest government’s endless refusal to meet the demands of their lecturers in order for their campuses to be re-opened. Such a day of lecture boycott and mass protests should be a step towards a comprehensive national mass mobilization against education commercialization.
However, the central conclusion that needs to be drawn from the foregoing is the overwhelming reality that all the ruling parties share the same neo-liberal policies and only a genuine working people’s political alternative can end the present socio-political logjam that the working masses have found themselves.
Unfortunately, the central labour movement has refused and neglected to pursue this magnificent task by abandoning the Labour Party, they helped to create in the hands of careerist politicians. This is why the ERC supports the initiative of the Socialist Party of Nigeria, which has recently submitted its application to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The ERC calls on genuine change-seeking students, workers and youth to join the SPN in building a mass political alternative to the rotten ruling parties.
National Coordinator, ERC