Sunday, 27 December 2015


“With this APC administration, if we are not careful, all of the gains of the 2013 ASUU struggle may go down the drain” – ASUU leader
Report by Akande Daniel

 The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) and the Academic Staff Union of the Universities (ASUU), University of Abuja chapter, jointly organized a public symposium at the Faculty of Law, Mini-campus of the University of Abuja. This symposium was held on Tuesday, 15th of December, 2015. The theme of the symposium was “Buhari Regime: A new dawn for the education sector?” The sub-theme centered on “building an Independent, Virile and Democratic Students Union: Issues and Challenges”.

In preparation for the symposium, members of the ERC had moved around some higher institutions in Abuja and nearby Niger and Nassarawa states to circulate leaflets and posters to mobilize for the program. Indeed the symposium was a success. More than anything, it showed the possibility of bringing students and workers together in the coming period for the collective struggle ahead of us.

Participants at the symposium included comrades from the ERC branch at the Federal Polytechnic Bida, Niger State. The speakers were Tunde Aremu - Policy and Campaigns Manager of Actionaid Nigeria, Benjamin Ugheoke - the Chairperson, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) Uniabuja Branch, Abdulfatai Jimoh - the Chairperson of ASUU at the Federal University of Technology Minna, Comrade Hassan Taiwo Soweto - ERC National Coordinator, Adjan Oyin Esther – Speaker, Students’ Union of the University of Abuja. Nda-Umar Usman - the immediate-past National Secretary Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) was unable to come but sent a solidarity message, which was read-out to the audience.
DSM Stall
 The program started with solidarity songs; followed by introductory remarks by comrade Dimeji Macaulay - the ERC Northern Zone Coordinator. He explained what the ERC stands for and the objective of the symposium. He further explained that the symposium was organized to heighten the consciousness of the students and prepare them for the forthcoming neo-liberal attacks on public education. Already the education sector is in crisis. He cited the example of the University of Abuja which you would expect should occupy the attention of government being that it is located at the Federal Capital Territory.  Regardless of this, the University has had a running problem with the accreditation of its Law programme which has led to the halt of admission into the Law department. Few years ago, the same school was battling with the National Universities Commission (NUC) over the de-accreditation of its engineering course. 

Dimeji Macaulay declaring open the symposium
 Tunde Aremu who spoke first explained that during the last 2015 general election, he was one of those who felt that Buhari was a lesser evil. However given the pro-capitalist character of his government, it is not possible to begin to talk about a new dawn for education sector. He said he was among the students, under the Lanre Arogundade-led National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), who organized in 1984 against commercialization of education by the Buhari regime. He urged students and workers to organize and be prepared to resist neo-liberal attacks on education. According to him, when you have in a government people like Fashola and Fayemi who implemented neo-liberal polices of privatization and commercialization in Lagos and Ekiti States where they governed respectively, one should not expect anything less. With recent development, the best method is to organize and be prepared to resist with mass actions. He further affirmed that privatization has never worked and his robbery in disguise. 

Tunde Aremu Action Aid
 On his part, Benjamin Ugheoke, the ASUU chairperson of the University of Abuja, delivered an inspirational speech which was well received by the audience with a big applause. He spoke on the topic Student Union Movement: The Missing “U”. The “U” represents Unity. The vital points raised in his speech includes that the primary purpose of the Student Union Movement is to ensure the welfare of its members studying in various institutions in the country. He further explained that welfare is meant to be the totality of the well-being of the students. However in contrast to these stated objectives, it is very difficult to tell whether most of the Student Union Movements that exist across the various campuses in Nigeria understand the original concept of the movement and if they do, whether they do understand how to achieve this purpose.

He also stated that the Student Union Movement is a pressure group that agitates for and insists on the right things to be done, not just in the immediate institution’s boundaries, but in the overall affairs of the state. It is clear therefore, that the Student Union Movement and other pressure groups such as ASUU share the same vision and have a common enemy - the oppressor. Ordinarily, this should lay the basis for unity of purpose and action. However, “this has not held true for the SUG and ASUU. This is because the “U” that ought to stand for Unity has been replaced by potent forces of division, so much so that the entire Student Movement in the country is in disarray. The center can no longer hold on and resist the capitalistic forces and influences of the enemies of the Students”. He finally concluded by saying “we must return to our roots, we must organize ourselves against opportunists who have taken over the Student Union Movement, it is time to confront the oppressors with the raw facts that will debilitate their machinations; it is time to enthrone the true democratic visions of the Student Union Movement. The time to act is now, so that we can ensure access to affordable quality education for the nation’s Student. It is time to bring back the missing “U”.  

Benjamin Ogheoke, Chair ASUU Uniabuja
Shortly after this, Okenwa Enyeribi, the Head of the Revolutionary Council of the Nigeria People and also a member of #Bring Back our Girls Campaign group, gave a solidarity speech. He mentioned in his speech that negligence of the Students’ Union leaders is one of the reasons why problems fester in the education sector. He explained that in the past, the voice of the Nigerian Students was a potent force that governments could only ignore to their peril. However, nowadays so-called students union and NANS leaders have sold out students’ rights to the politicians, with the aim of collecting money in return. He also mentioned that there are factions within the students’ movement.  He also talked about the leadership of NANS, he said NANS leaders of nowadays are more of political jobbers, who are lapdogs to the politicians. He ended his speech by calling for total rejection of the anti-social media bill which he described as undemocratic.

Abdulfatai Jimoh, the chairperson of the Federal University of Technology Minna, also gave a solidarity speech. He started by asking what the current generation intends to leave for those coming behind. He said that public education is in shamble but ASUU will not give up on the struggle for better funding of education because no country can develop without quality of education. He appreciated ERC for organizing the program. According to him, the first trade union that will have problem with the Buhari regime might be ASUU. This is because of the feelers that the government may not be inclined to follow-up with past agreements and Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). If this happen, all the gains of ASUU’s struggle of 2013 will go down the drain. He said the body language of the new regime is not what can be taken serious. While allegedly recovering looted funds, they have not told the populace how much have been recovered and who are those that have returned the looted fund.

Abdul Fatai Jimoh Chair ASUU FUT Minna
  In his contribution, comrade Soweto appreciated those that were present and called on them to join the organization. Quoting intermittently from the Needs Assessment of Nigeria Universities, he exposed in graphic details the total decay in public education. He referred to situations in some higher institutions where students receive lectures in ports pavilion, cafeteria etc. In some institutions, there are laboratories without equipments and even no power supply. Despite the resources at the command of the country, Nigeria cannot provide hostel accommodation for up to 50 percent of its students’ population - a situation that now manifests in overcrowding and terrible conditions in the hostels.

It is unfortunate that while establishing a Law faculty is easy even for private Universities, yet a public University of the stature of Uniabuja cannot boast of full accreditation of its law programme. He said ERC strongly believes that education is not a business venture. This is why we are opposed to education commercialization. We must unite to fight to make it free and well funded because education is an investment in society. He further revealed how the Tinubu and Fashola governments destroyed public education in Lagos state. Tinubu returned schools to the original private owners who had been compensated when the schools were taken over while Fashola increased fees at the Lagos State University (LASU) beyond what the poor could avoid. Now their successor, Governor Ambode, is following the same trend as attempts were recently made to increase acceptance fee which was only reversed after the union protested. The excuse of economic crisis that the ruling class is now trying to use as a ploy to launch neo-liberal attacks on Nigerians is not acceptable and must be defeated. We must not be fooled by such excuses. As students in South Africa showed recently, it is possible to win concessions on the issues of fees and funding of public education even in the time of economic crisis. 

HT Soweto, National Coordinator ERC
He identified decadence in Nigeria student movement as a product of retreat in radical ideology. According to him, there is a need for rank and file of students to begin to fight to reclaim their union and by so doing linking that with the question of reclaiming NANS or forming an alternative national student platform. This would require transformation of the entire student movement. According to him, criminal connivance of some president of students unions with the rightwing leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) is also responsible for the complete capitulation of the platform. When exactly did any union publicly condemn NANS awards to corrupt politicians? When exactly did any union mobilize against the NANS leaders when they criminally sold out students struggle? He called for independent unionism and respect of the right of Uniabuja students to democratically elect their union leaders in a free and fair election devoid of authorities’ interference. At the University of Abuja, the authorities recently suspended union elections and handpicked so-called executives for the union. This in effect mean an illegitimate union leadership tied to the apron string of the authorities. Only the Students Representative Council (SRC) was elected and even this is weak when it comes to defending students interests. He ended by saying we have to unite to fight and build the movement to end the rot in Nigeria’s education sector and this in effect would require a movement to end capitalism and transform society along socialist lines.

Also, the speaker of the Uniabuja Students Union Representative Council in person of Adjan Oyin Esther delivered a solidarity message. In her speech, she said that she was not happy with the way things are going on campus and the student movement as a whole. She ventilated her anger on the situation on campus and called for unity and support from the staff unions for their struggle for independent unionism. She said that NANS has degenerated and that she was shocked, when she sees the way and manner in which the leaders of the association run after politicians to present awards in exchange for money instead of fighting for the interest of students. She called on ERC to continue to synergize with like minds to fight to reclaim the student movement. 

Adjan Oyin Esther Speaker Students' Union Uniabuja
 During the question and answer session, an angry student from the chemistry department of the University of Abuja made the following telling comment: “all my stay studying chemistry in this University, no practical experiment was conducted because there was no laboratory!”  According to him “In a department like mine, which is chemistry, we have not had a single laboratory practical because of lack of laboratories equipments and facilities, and fellow students will still be proud that they are students schooling without having a practical experience, and in months to come we will become graduates, i wonder which kind of company will employ us”.

Comrade Akande Daniel shared his experience as a one-time treasurer of the NANS/JCC Oyo State and a Mobilisation Officer of the Zone-D. However, he had to resign because of the numerous nefarious activities of association. He said NANS can no longer pilot the affairs of students and that is why an organization like the ERC is needed. He concluded his words that students should join the ERC, which will at all times wage struggle against outrageous fees, fight for the respect of democratic rights, independent and virile student union, improvement in living and working conditions and against education commercialization and other neo-liberal attacks on education. In all, the program was inspiring. About five students signed to join the ERC.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Student Union Movement: The Missing “U” By Benjamin Ugheoke Chair ASUU UNIABUJA

The speech below was presented by Comrade Benjamin Ugheoke, Chairperson of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) UNIABUJA Chapter at a public symposium jointly organized by the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) and ASUU on Tuesday 15 December 2015 at the New Law Theatre (NLT) of the Law Faculty, UNIABUJA mini campus.

The purpose of the Student Union Movement is to ensure welfare for students studying in various institutions in the country. By welfare it is meant the totality of the well-being of a student, bothering on academic, economic, social and political spheres of life. The entire Welfare Package of the student include, but not limited to such things as the right to: free speech and association, due process, equality, autonomy, safety and privacy, as well as accountability in contract between the student and the institution,especially the aspects that relate to the treatment of students by teachers and administrators.

With this scope in mind, it is clear that the Student Union Movement cannot do without interacting not just with school authorities, but also with the governance of the environment in which student find themselves. Neither is the vision of the formation of the Student Union Movement insulated from the country’s affairs, because the student body is the bedrock and frame for the growth and development of a country.

This interaction is often complex and needs to be well managed and understood, otherwise, a lot could go wrong. Today, it is very difficult to tell whether most of the Student Union Movements that exist across the various campuses in Nigeria understand the original concept of the Movement and if they do, whether they do understand how to achieve this purpose.

It must be stated that the Student Union Movement, is a pressure group that agitates for and insists on the right thing to be done, not just in the immediate institution’s boundaries, but in the overall affairs of the state. It is clear therefore, that the Student Union Movement and other pressure groups such as ASUU share the same vision and have a common enemy: the oppressor. However, this has not held true for the SUG and ASUU.

The focus of this missive is to point out the missing “U” in the Student Union Movement of today and to point the way forward for the Movement so it can take its rightful place and exert its force on the affairs of the country for the benefit of the education sector and by extension, the country at large. The “U” that ought to stand for Unity has been replaced by potent forces of division, so much so that the entire Student Movement in the country is in disarray. The centre can no longer hold on and resist the capitalistic forces and influences of the enemies of the students.


It is disturbing that nowadays, the Student Union Movement has taken a down-turn, wasting so much of its energies and resources on politics and self-aggrandisement rather than pursue the original goals of the Movement. Student leaders are no longer driven by the ideology of common good: “all for one; one for all”. It is no longer uncommon today that the impetus that propels students to seek leadership positions in the Student Union body is nothing other than greed and avarice for material gains; building of political launch-pad for future inordinate ambitions; a total lack of knowledge of who the “enemy” is.

Rather than engage the authorities over breaches, it is now rife to see leaders of the student body clamour and fight establishments over allocation of blind-folding privileges such as large number of hostel accommodations when the students that elected them have nowhere to lay their heads; we now see deliberate personalisation of Union properties at the expense of every other student; trade-offs of student rights for some little morsels of food or money; lustful eyes on anything they could grab. Leaders of this potent Movement are too quick nowadays to forget the proverbs that say “a little leaven leavens the whole lump and “a gift in secret blinds the eyes”.
What explanation can one give for the common-place practice amongst student bodies today to offer or give awards to heads of institutions who in the eyes of the public, are adjudged profane and corrupt individuals and spitefully so, when they do it at the time that some other pressure groups are slugging it out with such administrators over impunity in their transactions? This is simply shocking! The question is: “where did we get it wrong and what could be done to redress this unacceptable and unbecoming trend?”


The very first mistake made by the would-be leaders of the student body is their penchant for “sponsors” in student union elections outside the students and against every rational democratic norm and means. In this process, they get entangled, their soul and whatever ideology the student would have had is immediately swallowed up and subsumed in whatever the sponsor believes. If the sponsor is a thug, the student leader becomes a thug and if a cultist, the student leader becomes a cultist. Thus, student union elections are no longer a product of the ideology of a student showcased in manifestos and organisational prowess, but rather a borrowed culture of the town. The distinctive touch and taste of the gown is gone out of student politics. Here, we miss it.

We miss it also, when we no longer give it to superior argument, but to him that is able to give us kerosene, noodles, rice and T-shirts today. Did we ever bother to ask ourselves where he got all that from? Wait, we are wrong when we give it to the highest bidder, not in intellect, leadership qualities and all acceptable norms of a just, fair and equitable society, but when we choose to let him buy our conscience with those ephemeral materials and thereby led astray.
We go wrong when we allow the forces from the Administration divide our ranks; when we permit them to “anoint” leaders for us. Are we dumb to discern that when an enemy gives a gift, it will sure be a poison? We now let the Administration to meddle with the affairs of students. They set up moles and traitors amongst us. We permit them to freely operate the divide-and-rule principles on us. That is not and can never be the Student Union Movement!That is not democracy and would never be a substitute.


Proverbs hold that “Where there is no vision, the people perish”. Therefore, for most of the Student Union leaders devoid of ideology, anything goes. Democracy is suppressed and or substituted by selection tools put in place by the “common enemy” of the stakeholders in an institution. Leaders are hand-picked from among students to do the bidding of Management and when they have been used, they are dumped and called names.

What do we do?

We must return to our roots. We must give place to superior argument; democracy must thrive. Yes democracy, not like the town would have it, rather it is the democracy that ensures the common good. If you like, call it Socialist Democracy. It is the leadership of the people by the people and for the people. It is not a government per se; it is a way of life for the oppressed who have seen and known that the oppressor is an enemy and that liberation comes only through Unity of purpose; through transparency and accountability; it is a way of life that ensures that crookedness in dealings is fought against and the fight continues until justice, equity and fairness are enthroned and become the guiding principles for all. It is the kind of democracy that brought out Nathan Law Kwun-chung of the Hong Kong Federation of Students and Joshua Wong of the Scholarism Movement into the streets and caused a standstill for the government of Hong Kong for a period of three months over a decision made by the government of China over the people of Hong Kong. Interesting. It was a struggle not for hand-outs from school authorities, it was a struggle for the good of the country.

Permit me to challenge your position with a brief of the life of Joshua Wong. Joshua Wong Chi-fungis a Hong Kong student activist, born 13 October 1996. On 29 May 2011, he founded Scholarism, which is a Hong Kong pro-democracy student activist group. The scope of activities the group covers fall in the fields of Hong Kong's education policy, political reform and youth policy.

The group is known for its stance on defending the autonomy of Hong Kong's education policy from Beijing's unconstitutional interference. He was a student at the United Christian College, and is now a college student of the Open University of Hong Kong.

Wong is most notable for leading fellow Hong Kong students in a massive protest in 2014 that demanded genuine universal suffrage. Due to his influence in Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement, he was named as one of TIME's Most Influential Teens of 2014, nominated for TIME's Person of the Year 2014 and listed by Fortune Magazine as one of the World's Greatest Leaders in 2015.
Joshua Wong saw leadership as a liberating force. Sure, we go wrong when we see leadership as an end rather than a means to an end. Holding an office is not for ego boosting, but a platform to serve humanity. If we must build a strong, virile Student Union Movement, we must embrace the principles of superior argument in all our engagements.

What we need to do now is to organize: the kind of organisation similar to that of Joshua Wong; yes we must begin to organize ourselves against opportunists who have taken over the Student Union Movement and have colonised it as their employment. It is time to confront the oppressors with raw facts that will debilitate their machinations; it is time to enthrone the true democratic visions of the Student Union Movement. The time to act is now, so we can ensure access to affordable quality education for the nation’s student. It is time to bring back the missing “U”.


Tuesday, 15 December 2015


We call on students, parents and workers to resist with protracted mass actions
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) strongly condemns the directive by the management of the Federal Polytechnic Bida (FPB), Niger state that fresh students of the polytechnic should pay the sum of N10, 000 for acceptance fee. This translates to a 100 percent hike from the N5, 000 which used to be the maximum levy for acceptance. The authorities also asked all students to pay a sum of N500 as “religion due”. We demand the immediate reversal of the acceptance fee and outright cancellation of “religion due”.
We condemn the fee increment as an attempt to commercialize and price education out of the reach of children of the poor and average working class masses. It is all the more disturbing that despite the change mantra, the policy of fee hike and education commercialization continues.
This directive by the polytechnic’s management is absolutely unacceptable as the new students chose federal polytechnics Bida as their first choice institution when registering for the unified tertiary matriculation examination (UTME) and sat for the post UTME in September, 2015 on the basis of the old fee of N5, 000. It is therefore unjust and callous to ask the new students to pay the outrageous acceptance fee after they have been offered admission. The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) calls on the Students’ Union of the Polytechnic to resist the increment with a series of mass actions. Together with demanding reversal of the hiked fee, students should demand proper funding of education and democratic management of schools.
The fees students have been paying in the past have not reflected in any real improvement. Presently the Federal Polytechnic Bida is characterized by overcrowded classrooms, inadequate lecture halls, ill-equipped laboratories and libraries, inadequate teaching and non teaching staff, lack of transportation facilities, poor sport facilities, and poor ICT service among others.
We call on all working class parents and FPB staff unions (ASUP, SANNIP, and NASU) who are already overburdened by the anti poor policies of the government to openly declare their support for the students against the fee hike. We also call on fresh students and their parents to  reject the imposition of these obnoxious fees by the polytechnics Management and join in the struggle for the reversal of the fee increment.

Our Demands:
(1)   No to fee increment in FPB. Reverse the N10, 000 fee and cancel the “religion due” of N500.
(2)   Increase in the budgetary allocation up to UNESCO recommendation 26%.
(3)   Provision of adequate facilities for quality education and enabling learning environment.
(4)   For an independent and democratic students unionism without interference from the management or government.
(5)   Democratic running of the polytechnic with involvement of the elected representatives of education workers and students in all the decision-making bodies.

kayode Salako
ERC Bida Polytechnic Chapter