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: Nigeria’s 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 people’s 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.