It is only an organised struggle and mass actions of the entirety of Ogun State students that will actualise the reduction in the hiked fees across all state owned tertiary institutions.
We of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) welcome the recent announcement of reduction of the hiked school fees across all existing state owned tertiary institutions by the Governor Ibikunle Amosun government. While we welcome this decision of the state government, we call for its immediate implementation and the meeting of the demands of students of the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU) for further reduction in their fees to an amount not more than N50, 000.
The proposal from the state government to fully implement the reduction in the 2014/2015 academic session should be rejected in totality by rank and file studentry across all the tertiary institutions. By this, we therefore, urge the generality of student to continue mounting political pressure on the state government so that the reduction will actually come to stay.
The ERC believes that the public resources at the disposal of the state government, if democratically and judiciously managed, can guarantee free and quality education across all levels in the state. And in that manner, the decision of the state government to reduce the astronomic fees in Olabisi Onabanjo University, (OOU), by 41.4% and 35.9%, Moshood Abiola Polytechnics, (MAPOLY) by 31.1% and 9.1%, Tai Solarin University of Education, (TASUED) by 27.5% and returning students by 30.4%, Ogun State Institute of Technology, Igbesa by 61% is a clear evidence that publicly funded education system is possible especially if all the public resources in the state is put under the democratic management and control of elected representatives of students, education workers, parents and other members of the education system. This is the additional reason we of ERC join thousands of Ogun State students to demand for more reductions of the killing fees imposed on students of OOU, MAPOLY, TASUED and Ogun State Institute of Technology.
It is of importance to draw the attention of the entirety of Ogun State students to the recent development at the Lagos State University (LASU) - an institution owned by the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) government of Governor Fashola. Fashola during the 19th convocation ceremony of LASU was forced to reverse the astonomic fees of LASU to its original amount of N25,000. This came in place after 3 years of tumultuous struggles and titanic protests waged against the capitalist thieving elites in Lagos State. Therefore, the pronouncement by Governor Amosun reducing these killing fees of all existing state-owned institutions is a contagious effect from his ruling counterparts in Lagos State and their party's (APC) fear that its anti-poor policies could make it lose votes at the 2015 general elections. However, Governor Amosun clearly reveal the political undertone behind the reduction of these killing fees in both Lagos and Ogun states by proposing to start its implementation after the 2015 general elections. This further crystallises the motives behind these reductions as a means by the ruling APC government in both states to score a political goal towards 2015 elections.
While we of the ERC strongly support the protest organised by students of OOU under the leadership of the Students' Union we however urge rank and file studentry to be more organised in this period in terms of continuous and passionate waging of mass actions to fight against the commercialisation and privatisation of the public education sector by the state government. Students' Union leaders across all state owned institutions must unite in the struggle to save the public education sector from total collapse. In this campaign, students must unite to come out with plans of mass actions with banners to raise campaign slogans like fight against neo- liberal policies of privatisation of public education sector, poor funding of the education sector, exploitation of students, victimisation of student leaders, attacks on students' democratic rights and for democratic running of schools. All these we believe if properly fought for passionately and consistently will mount political pressure on the ruling government of Governor Amosun.
In conclusion, ERC strongly believes that a struggle of this nature can gain certain political victory especially if it links up with the working class struggle within the state. Education workers like ASUU, ASUP, NASU and SSANU should join the students in the struggle against commercialisation of education in the state. Solidarity from these workers' union is important to ensure victory. By this we strongly urge these unions to declare a day of mass actions in support of the students who are forced to pay through their nose the killing fees imposed on them by the state government and his allies. Ogun state chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) must as well throw their support behind the struggling students who are suffering under the shackles of the state government neo- liberal and anti- poor capitalist education policies.
Yours in Struggle,
ERC National Secretary