Wednesday, 24 September 2014


Students must Resist all Anti-Poor Onslaught on Education

September 2014

The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) welcomes all University of Portharcourt (UNIPORT) students back for the second semester. We particularly welcome newly admitted Year 1 students and the old Year 1 students whose initial resumption was postponed and given compulsory 3-month holiday by the School Management for lack of space and accommodation to host Sandwich Students and so-called centenary games which made students to be chased away from the hostels like outcasts. 

This is no doubt an example of the crisis of decay and government’s lack of commitment to public education, resulting in the lack of adequate learning facilities and space to accommodate all students that are admitted yearly. 

The management having successfully imposed a new fee regime has become emboldened to carry out further attacks on students and staff welfare. The first semester came, riding on the crest of management triumph at the expense of the collective interest and welfare of students on campus, with absolutely no resistance from students’ leaders.


It would be recalled that Uniport was temporarily closed down on June 4, 2014 by the School Authorities following students’ peaceful protest against recent astronomical hike in school fees from N29,000 for Humanities, Management Sciences, and Social Sciences students, and N49,000 for Sciences; to N41,000 and N60,900 respectively for regular students. This is apart from the increased fee of the Year 1 students as well as the introduction of development levy, increased acceptance fees and hostel accommodation that was first increased in January by more than 700% margin, amounting to about N135, 000 put together without resistance from the Students’ Union leadership. 

The new fee regime to be paid by students comprises statutory fees and non-statutory fees. The statutory fee is the main fee, the non-statutory fee is called Faculty charges, the amount of which will be decided and determined by each faculty’s requirement for students.

For us in the Education Rights Campaign (ERC), we believe that the habitual rotten compromises of the Students’ Union leaders with the School Management will make students more vulnerable and exposed to more attacks. To be honest, a serious fight back led by the Students Union may not necessarily force the management to retreat on its present fee hike policy. Nevertheless, it can force the management to think twice in future before introducing any anti-student policy because of its fear that students will fight back. This is one important benefit of struggle. But when every policy of the management is accepted without resistance, it gives management the confidence to introduce more anti- student policies. 

Already, students in some faculties who have started paying the new fee are bitterly complaining of paying more than the stipulated increment which does not reflect the N5, 000 reduction in the hiked fee as falsely claimed by the opportunistic Felix Nwizua led SUG leadership. Formerly, GES courses where students were only required to register the course and buy GES workbook at the rate of N500 now, following the new fee regime and payment system, requires that students register at the bank at the rate of N2, 000, N3, 000 to N5, 000 depending on the department, for both regular and part-time students. 

For us in the ERC, this latest attack is coming at a time when the pro-chancellors of the universities recently met, passing a resolution to introduce tuition fee in all Federal and State universities. This, no doubt, is part of a longstanding neo-liberal capitalist agenda by government to commercialize and privatize public education in Nigeria, with the intent of making education the exclusive preserve of the private sector whose main drive for venturing into business is profit maximization while it tries to absolve and excuse government of the responsibility of funding education. 

But unfortunately, despite available and abundant natural resources and in spite of unaccountable trillions of petrol dollars raked in by government since 1999, which have mostly been looted by corrupt bourgeois politicians in the ruling political parties, government on its part have continued to argue albeit unconvincingly, that it does not have the resources to fund education alone. While this untenable argument accounts for years of government deliberate underfunding of education in Nigeria, paving way for the private sector, it has constantly led to hiked fees for students across universities, polytechnics, monotecnnics and colleges of education by the authorities, as well as deliberate refusal by government to honour agreements reached with staff and non-staff unions in the education sector, leading to constant strikes and disruption of academic calendar year in year out. 

The private sector on its part has become a nightmare, a total failure and a terrible manager where they have taken up control and management of government property/parastatal such as the Daily Times, the Nigerian Paper Mill, the Ajaokuta Steel Company, NITEL and PHCN, to mention but a few which have all gone down the drain or in the process of going down the drain. 


These attacks have become possible due largely to management’s overbearing and corrupting influence on the Students’ Union and the complete ideological collapse and disorientation of the NANS and SUG leadership who see their positions as a means of enriching themselves while pandering to the wishes and desires of the school’s management and corrupt anti-poor capitalist politicians. This is why the ERC continue to urge all politically active and conscious students to take up the demand and struggle for an independent and vibrant students’ unionism. 


The recent victory by the Lagos State University Students (LASU) students over unjust hike in school fees by the Lagos’s All Progressive Congress (APC) government from N25, 000 to N193, 750 and N348, 750 since 2011 respectively have shown that struggle pays. As a result of determined struggle and resistance by the students, with active support and solidarity from the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and radical organizations like the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) and Joint Action Front (JAF), the state government was recently forced to revert to the old fee of 25,000. This is victory for the Nigerian students and shows the way to go for students in tertiary institutions where similar astronomical fee has been introduced like in OAU, OOU, UNIPORT, etc.

For students and education workers who are fighting for improved funding, this experience has ultimately underscored the need to build an independent revolutionary working people’s party that can challenge all anti-poor capitalist policies of all the corrupt ruling parties and ultimately bring about a working people’s government. 

This is why the ERC supports the efforts of the Democratic Socialist Movement in forming the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN). 

Join us today to fight for: 

(1)  Reversal of the hiked fee and cancellation of all illegal charges.

(2)  Renovation of teaching and hostel facilities to ensure that students are able to learn under a decent atmosphere.

(3)  Improved funding of education and democratic management of schools Improvement in the pay and conditions of all teaching and non-teaching staff.

(4)  Respect of the democratic rights of students and workers.

(5)  An independent, Democratic and mass-based Students’ Union that can defend the interest of its members.


Onwunalu Lexan
Coordinator, UNIPORT ERC Branch
To join the ERC or know more about our activities, call 08183358490.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

OOU Fee Struggle

Anything Short of the Demand for N50, 000 Reduction will be a Disastrous Betrayal

An extract from the Draft Resolution on Student Movement for the National Committee Meeting of DSM to be held between October 10 and 12

Perhaps by the time of National Committee meeting of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) to be held between October 10 and 12, the fee struggle at the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU) Ago Iwoye Ogun State may have ended one way or another. However it is important here to make some passing comments about it.

One, this struggle like all others also confirms the crisis of leadership in the student movement. The students of the institution have shown again and again their readiness to fight. Unfortunately the union leadership despite its composition by some "left" characters lacks the courage to boldly lead the struggle to victory.

The OOU struggle owes its ignition in every respect to inspiration received from the Lagos State University (LASU). The fees in OOU were hiked by the predecessor of the present All Progressive Congress (APC) government, Governor Gbenga Daniel of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The present APC Governor Ibikunle Amosun while campaigning in 2011 promised to effect a 50% reduction once in power. However when the party came to power eventually, it simply reduced the fee by 10% and moved on as if things were okay. The government ignored all the rumblings and moans from OOU until the LASU struggle and the electoral loss of the party in Ekiti sent shockwaves down the spine of the party.

In panic at the thought of losing the State in 2015, the Governor organized a meeting with the JCC and the Students Unions in the State and announced some marginal percentage reduction in the fees of all the state-owned institutions. It is uncertain whether the OOU Students' Union leadership attended this meeting and what their position was if they did. What is clear is that without the uprising by rank and file of students, not a single protest may have been heard from either the SUG or the JCC in the State. But when the OOU students rose in their hundreds, the Students Union had to provide leadership.

Despite its lightening speed, the uprising in OOU was to be expected. For instance, agitation for reduction of the fees had been on before the Governor's announcement. Indeed a lecture boycott had taken place weeks before and a new protest was being planned in the week of the announcement. It was partly in the hope to undercut this development that the Government announced the reduction. Unfortunately when broken down into naira and kobo, the reduction was so marginal that they brought no relief to students of OOU who were already paying the highest fees in the state. Also the state government promised to implement this unsatisfactory reduction in the 2014/2015 academic session. This in effect probably means after the 2015 general elections when the party would be under no electoral pressure to fulfill its promise.

Of course students were no fools. The interesting characteristic of this period is that even though the idea of a socialist alternative to capitalism may not have attained mass popularity for the obvious reason that there is as yet no registered political party campaigning for it, distrust of the politicians of all the major ruling political parties is overwhelming. Few days after the announcement of reduction, students from OOU stormed Abeokuta the state capital and occupied the Governor's office for two days! There demand was for further reduction in their fees to an amount not more than N50, 000 across board and for its immediate implementation!

The protest took the government by surprise. The Governor and his kitchen cabinet panicked. The publicity stunt had turned awry. Interestingly, the government had planned to also use the occasion of the announcement of fee reduction to distribute buses to Students' Unions. But all this was turned upside down by the OOU students' outburst of protests. Despite police attacks on the demonstrators, they would not disperse until the Governor addressed them and promised to look into their demands within 7 days. It was at this parley which took place at the MKO Abiola Stadium in Abeokuta that the original plan to distribute buses to the Union leaders was now hatched. But so successful was the protest of OOU students that the report of this publicity stunt in the newspapers was overshadowed by reports of the 2-day protest. Of course the purpose of the promise by the Governor was to buy time to decide on what to do, not to meet their demands. At the end of the 7 days, the institution was closed down and police moved into its campuses. A move to proscribe the Union was hurriedly reversed when it became clear that this would ignite widespread condemnation.

It may be too early to draw conclusive opinion on the struggle in OOU but already efforts to shipwreck the struggle is getting prominent. From the demand for reduction to an amount not higher than N50, 000, the Union leadership has backpedalled to demanding 50% reduction. If met, this would mean that average OOUites would still pay fees of above N50, 000 to over N100, 000. The easy excuse being deployed is that students want the school reopened as soon as possible. Yes, the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) also recognizes this. But reopening of the University and reduction of the fees are two separate things. If the Union is sincere and bold enough, it should demand immediate reopening of the school while negotiation on the fee continues. Indeed the union should insist that it can only take a democratic decision on whether or not to review its demands when its members return to school and are able to attend a properly convoked congress to debate the issue. Anything short of this is betrayal.

If the union decides to go along with the agenda to give the Ogun State government a soft landing by conceding to an offer of fee reduction higher than what students originally demanded, the consequence may be grim. Ordinarily, the demand for original N50, 000 itself even if met would have been incapable, especially in a country where the national minimum wage is N18, 000, of ensuring that OOU is affordable and accessible to all. But to now concede to an amount which would make OOU students pay above N100, 000 would be interpreted by most students and rightly so as a betrayal. There is a danger also that such a development may make a section of students out of frustration to wrongfully conclude that struggle does not achieve result. What is clear however is that betrayal may only delay for a short or long time depending, but it cannot stop the resurgence of struggle among OOU students at a later time again on the same issue of fee hike.

However just as in LASU, no matter what happens, the OOU struggle has exposed the Ibikunle Amosun government and the APC as a deceitful party that rides on people's expectation to power only to disappoint them. Already damage has been inflicted that the party will not recover from soonest. Politically, the APC will face a steep task in 2015 elections. They may retain their rule only just because none of the political parties existing is different from the APC in terms of policies and programs.

ERC OSCOED Ilesa Symposium Underscores the Essence of Political Education

By ERC Reporter

The Osun State College of Education (OSCOED), Ilesa branch of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) held a public symposium on Thursday, 4th of September, 2014 at the College Auditorium. The central theme of the symposium, which was moderated by Samuel Drakeson, was Bringing Back the Progressive History of Nigerian Student Movement: The Tasks Ahead. The other themes include: Nigerias Security and Socio-economic crises: the way out; and The Review of the Last Osun Lecturers Strike.

Forty-four (44) participants attended the symposium while six speakers spoke on the themes. The speakers were: Barrister Alfred Adegoke, the State Coordinator of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) and Chair of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) in Osun State; Comrade Olusegun Lana, the Secretary of Council of Academic Staff Unions of Osun Tertiary Institutions (CASUOSTI); Kola Ibrahim, State Secretary of SPN; Oluwole Engels, National Mobilization Officer of ERC; Dimeji Macaulay, Northern Regional Coordinator of ERC and Jamal Akanbi, ERC OSCOED Coordinator. 

Speakers at the Symposium
 The programme, which started around 2.00 p.m., was led by the introductory speech of Comrade Jamal, who emphasized the essence of regular political education for students. He also brought to fore the need for students to start taking stock of the state of students movement, in relation to what it used to be in time past. He drew the attention of the gathering to the fundamental necessity of building political alternative of the working and oppressed people, while advising all change seeking students to join the ERC, which is leading the campaign for properly funded and democratically run education sector.

Kola Ibrahim, in his speech analyzed the socio-economic crises, especially the inequality that capitalism has wrought on Nigerian society. While underscoring the international character of the rottenness of capitalism, he drew his analysis on the more worrisome state of Nigerian neo-colonial capitalist class. He linked this with the current insecurity in the country, especially the Boko Haram conundrum. He maintained that Nigerian capitalist ruling class, through its politics and policies is the founder and sustainer of terrorism. He maintained that, global capitalism cannot resolve terrorism, because it is the main cause of terrorism. He posited that unless the socio-economic foundation of society is restructured in the interests of the working and oppressed people, there can not be end to endemic poverty, unemployment, terrorism and suffering. To this end, he called for the rebuilding of mass organizations of resistance like the student movement and labour movement. He, while painting a gory picture of the state of student movement and the education sector, challenged students to take their unions back on revolutionary basis. He stressed that this should be linked with the formation of working peoples revolutionary alternative. The seed of this is already being sowed with the formation of the SPN, as a first step towards the march for total liberation of the oppressed people.

Comrade Oluwole Engels in his speech dwelt on the rot in the education sector and the Nigerian student movement. He drew the attention of the gathering to the crisis within the leadership of student movement, with the emergence of ideologically bankrupt and politically treacherous elements in the leadership of unions. He cited the instance of OAU where students struggle of over three years forced the university management to reinstate the union, only for the student union leaders to become agents of the management against students interests. He also analysed the crises that commercialization and underfunding of education, coupled with undemocratic running of education sector have wrought on the quality of education sector. He emphasized the need for students to strengthen the struggle for properly funded education sector. This will require building the backbone of student movement through the building of ideological and left leaning organizations and comrades on campuses. Engels, along with seven others, is currently under politically motivated rustication for their roles in the struggle of OAU students against education commercialization and attack on democratic rights. The ERC is leading the campaign for their immediate reinstatement.

Dimeji Macaulay in his speech dwelt on insecurity drawing attention to the failure of the military in spite of huge monetary allocation to the defence sector. He maintained that Boko Haram is a product of the failure of capitalism in Nigeria. He stated that the only revolutionary mass movement can end the scourge of terrorism. He drew attention to the formation of civilian JTF, which has emerged out of desperation and failure of the armed forces. He stated that socialist position is that democratic, non-ethnic and non-religious, defence committees be set up by community people as a counterweight to terror. These committees should be reporting to the communities, and be under their control. He further stated that unless society is transformed, terrorism can never end. This is why he maintained the need for the building of revolutionary political alternative, for which the SPN was founded.

Comrade Lana, in his short but incisive contribution spoke on how far the struggle of Osun tertiary institutions lecturers has gone. As a result of consistent struggle of the workers, Osun State government has been forced to concede to some of the demands of workers, including re-staffing of the institutions, partial reversal of the obnoxious pension policy of government, reduction of exorbitant taxes on workers, among others. However, most of the government concessions are still on paper; therefore, there will be need for the staff unions to be vigilant in order to achieve total victory. He also dwelt on the last national strike of COEASU, which he said was suspended for three months for government to show commitment. He lamented that the government is still foot-dragging and that unlike in the previous situation where COEASU in state institutions did not join the strike, new national strike, if provoked by government would be total. He was full of praises for the ERC and DSM for the important role they played in the struggles, both at the state and national level. He donated a sum of N1, 000 as solidarity fund to the ERC, which was given to the OSCOED branch. Kola Ibrahim, in his response commended CASUOSTI for the struggle and pledged ERC and DSM continued support. He also called on the unions to be steadfast and vigilant while urging them to also support students and other workers struggles.

Barrister Alfred Adegoke gave incisive and thought-provoking analysis of the rise of Boko Haram, and how the ruling elites in their struggle for the continued control of public resources are sustaining the horrible situation. He also dwelt on the political development, giving the situation report on the struggle for the registration of SPN as a formidable left political platform in the coming period. He further underscored the need to build community mass organizations of defence in the affected areas where Boko Haram scourge is raging. He however maintained that such committee must be run democratically. He also called on labour movement to organize mass actions for economic and social emancipation of the toilers, as a way of galvanizing forces of the oppressed people, and isolating terrorism and its capitalist foundation.

The programme ended around 5.20 p.m. with votes of thanks by comrade Betiku and solidarity songs by the gathering. Questions were asked by more than three participants on student movements, political alternative and terrorism, which were well addressed by the speakers. This symposium was indeed educative. If the branch can build on this programme by organizing internal educative activities for members, and embarking on mass membership drive through more public programmes and campaigns, it will grower bigger and stronger.