Tuesday, 26 January 2016


The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) welcomes students back on campus after the unnecessary ‘mid-semester’ break. The break was a response of the management to the struggle against the bad welfare conditions and high handedness of the management which has subjected the entire students to untold hardship. We view this tactic of the management as inhuman and absolutely out of place as it cannot in any way serve as a panacea to the lingering crisis in the welfare conditions of the students. We urge Great Ife students to ensure they do not make the error of believing that the struggle is not justified because the University authorities closed down the campus and forced us on a mid-semester break. Yes! Much of our demands have not even been met. But the reality also is that things would be much worse than they are now without the tradition of struggle established by succeeding generations of Great Ife students.

Of course, the closure of the institution under the guise of a ‘mid-semester’ break is apparently a ploy by the Tale Omole administration to quell students’ legitimate demands. These include demand for a better welfare condition; the reinstatement of Olawale Owolabi (Ogunruku) suspended since 2011; the downward review of the 2014 fee hike; the probe of the financial state of the university, to understand why despite hundreds of millions of student fees, the welfare conditions continue to worsen; amongst others. More importantly, we feel it is necessary to reassert that the demand for a better welfare condition transcends the epileptic and erratic water and light supply. Rather it is inclusive of building of more hostels, lecture theatres and the renovation of the dilapidated ones, well equipped laboratories and libraries as well as clean toilets and bathrooms.

We in the ERC are not oblivious of the fact that the university management will continue to explore all tactics and weapons at its disposal to quell such genuine students’ demands. We hold that such antics of the management should be resisted by the students. One of the ways to resist this antics is to ensure that the struggle for all these demands continue until victory. If this happens, the authorities would quickly realize that nothing can stop us from demanding our right to decent living conditions and welfare provision on campus. We cannot continue to accept a situation in the 21st century male and female students are forced to bathe in the open and defecate in the bush because of poor lavatories! Instead we should ask for what happened to our fees as well as allocation to the University given the horrible conditions under which we are made to live as students!

The downward review of the 2014 fee hike which likewise constitutes the major demand of the students is equally paramount. This is borne out of the fact the increment has not in any way translated into a better welfare condition contrary to the argument adduced by the management while imposing the fees about 2 years back. This has further justified our position in the ERC that increment in the school fees constitutes no panacea to the legion of crises in the education sector; instead the government should assume its responsibility by ensuring the proper funding of the sector. To curtail the misappropriation and embezzlement of the institution’s fund which has eaten deep into the fabrics of the university system, the ERC shall continue to demand the democratization of the decision making organs of the institution comprising the staff unions and students’ representative.

We further seize the medium to answer the argument of the management that Olawale Owolabi’s (Ogunruku) name is not in the students’ data base of the institution. This argument is spurious; as the student followed the normal processes of admission given by the management making it easy for his suspension even though was based on undemocratic and kangaroo procedures. At this stage, the probe of the VC as regards the appropriation of the university fund is another very crucial demand that students must continue to fight for. From our position in the ERC, we have always agitated for the proper funding of education by the federal government. However, the paltry allocation is being siphoned off by the institution. Obviously from all practical fact, this corrupt practice is unbefitting of institutions of learning. Holistically, all these demands from all stances are justified by the students.

We deem it necessary to first vehemently condemn this undemocratic method of proscription of the union by the management. Hoping that the management would have understood that the crises still linger this is no means to solve the problem. The only way to resolve a crisis of this nature is to create a means to dialogue with the union with a view to acceding to students’ demands. We commend and boldly identify with the position of the entire Great Ife Student taken on this question. Defying the order of the suspension of the activities is both a bold and democratic step towards the campaign for an independent student union. But this should not just remain a political statement by the students rather instigation of political action should be placed at the front burner towards effecting this brave stance helping in a long way towards pressing home all the demands. This is the only way to effect the independence of the union.
From the wealth of our experience in the students’ movement, this is a period where students need to organize themselves to resist the management tactic of victimization. The management will stop at nothing to employ its devilish methods capable of dividing the rank of the students in order to create an easy avenue for its anti-poor policies to sail through unchallenged. Balance of forces will necessarily determine to a great extent the level of resistance of the management leading to the success of the students in their demands.

As already asserted, the union leadership must resume the responsibility of raising the consciousness of the students which is of paramount necessity. With the level of the organization of the authority, the students must neither rest on their oars. With no hesitation, the Union executives should convene an emergency congress towards reviewing the activities of the union and eventually mapping out strategies in the prosecution of the struggle to a logical and reasonable conclusion. Only the congress possesses the legitimacy and ability to map out well organized and consistent actions that can bring the struggle to victory. THE EARLIER THE BETTER. We opine therefore that a synergy should be drawn amid the rank and file of the staff unions (ASUU, SSANU, NASU and NAAT) in a bid towards exerting pressure on the common enemy of both students and members of staff which is the University Management. In this manner, it makes easier the success of the struggle. Conclusively, we once again advise the leadership of the union with immediate alacrity to swing into practical actions in order to avoid being tied to the apron string of the management and for the success of the ongoing struggle of the students.

* The management should accede to the demands of the students.
* The union leadership should convene an emergency congress to resist any form of victimization and map out strategies towards prosecuting the ongoing struggle
* For the students union to write an open petition to the government and its agencies including EFCC, ICPC, NUC, ministry of education, national assembly, presidency, e.t.c. On the misappropriation of university fund by the management and to demand the reversal of fees imposed on students, proper funding of the university and education sector, and end to all forms of undemocratic tendencies in the university.
* Democratization of the decision-making organs of the university comprising the elected representatives of staff and students’ unions.

 Com. Olamide                                   Omole Ibukun
COORDINATOR                                   SECRETARY

Thursday, 21 January 2016



A recent comment credited to the Minister of Labour and Employment Dr. Chris Ngige in which he referred to unemployed Nigerians as indolent is unfortunate. The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) condemns this statement. The word “indolent” is an insult to many Nigerians who are unemployed not because they are not willing to work but because the inequitable capitalist system that Ngige works for denies them a means of livelihood.

According to The Nation newspaper (16/1/2016), Ngige made the following comment: “we won’t pay N5, 000 for people to be indolent. No country in the world would pay people to go home and sleep and collect cash”.

Ngige’s statement betrays a perception that the government would be doing unemployed people a favour by paying them monthly allowance. To start with even the proposed N5000 is paltry. However, as far as the ERC is concerned, an unemployment allowance is a right. Any serious government has a responsibility of ensuring a minimum living standard for all of its citizens including the old, infirm, children etcetera as well as those unfortunate to be unemployed until such a time they are able to get a paid employment.

Indeed, the suggestion that no country pays unemployment allowance shows that Ngige is unfortunately ignorant of development around the world especially in the West where there are social security provisions including unemployment benefit even though presently under austerity attacks.   

Unemployment is a product of the failure of the capitalist system. It is not a failure of individuals. At least 50 million Nigerians are unemployed or under-employed. Many of these are not lazy bums that are not willing to work. In fact some of these are University graduates. Some lost their jobs as a result of the job-shedding ravaging both the public and private sector at the moment. Just a few days ago, the Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha who happens to be a member of Ngige’s party, the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), added to the army of unemployed by sacking 3, 000 civil servants.

If there is any group of people in this country that are being paid to be indolent, it is the group of ruling elite and bourgeois politicians that Ngige belongs to. Just about 17, 000 political office holders cost this country over N1.5 trillion annually. Majority of these are lawmakers and ministers together with their retinue of aides who do little or nothing. Lawmakers sit just a few times and for a few hours in a week. Yet they collect millions of naira monthly and fat gratuity that are paid promptly once their tenure expires. The same goes for ministers. Aside presiding over official functions, press conferences and making speeches, what exactly does a Minister do? Most of the so-called policy decisions and plans are drawn up by an army of aides while implementation is carried out by ministry staff. So indolent and perhaps unnecessary are ministers that no less a person than President Buhari once called them “noise makers”. In actuality therefore, it is the likes of Ngige that are being paid to be indolent.

However government responsibility does not stop at paying monthly unemployment stipend. The government must also endeavour to find a decent job for every unemployed person as soon as possible in order to take them off the dole.

Going by our observation since May 29, 2015, the ERC is forced to conclude that the Federal Government does not appear to have any clear or reliable strategy for job creation. Aside the promise to train and employ 500, 000 graduates as teachers, the rest of FG’s job creation strategy is anchored on the private sector. Suffice to note that private sector-led job creation strategy has been tried before by previous administrations and has failed to produce adequate and secure jobs for Nigerians. Even its social security plan is not only feeble but embarrassing. So far, the N5, 000 that is being promised is not enough to feed for a month not to talk of other basic human needs. A National Youth Service Corp member gets far more than this monthly.

Now going by Ngige’s explanation that the unemployment benefit would be tied to a training programme, we hope this will not end up like the slave labour scheme floated by Osun, Oyo and a few other APC states some years ago under several names like OYES or YES-O where unemployed graduates are made to cut grass and perform other menial tasks for ridiculous monthly allowance for a promise of absorption into the civil service. At the end, only a few of these were ever absorbed into the civil service. The idea of training University graduates in so-called new skills so that they can set up mushroom businesses is not a workable strategy to address the chronic unemployment situation in Nigeria. In a depressed economy without basic infrastructures like regular electricity supply and motorable roads where even big companies are folding up, many of these mushroom businesses will soon crash thus sending all of these people back into the employment market.

As far as we are concerned in the ERC, any reasonable effort to address the condition of unemployed people must be tied to massive creation of decent minimum wage jobs as well as a crash public works programme to improve public infrastructures like electricity supply, transportation, housing etc so that self-employed people, owners of small and medium scale enterprises and artisans can have a more supportive environment to thrive. This means that government, not the so-called private sector, must be at the centre of a job creation programme.

Hassan Taiwo Soweto                                          Michael Ogundele                          
National Coordinator (07033697259)             National Secretary                                  




The Education Rights Campaign (ERC), Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja Chapter, totally condemns the continued suspension of students’ union activities at the University of Abuja and the Nassarawa State University, Keffi by managements of both institutions. We condemn the practice of imposing on students so-called transition committees that are composed of handpicked students. We call on the managements of both institutions to respect the democratic and fundamental human rights of their students by allowing them to freely operate independent students unionism.

In particular, the ERC rejects the false claims by the both managements that this undemocratic action is meant to maintain peace and put an end  to different problems erupting as a result of religious and tribal sentiments on both campuses.

We support in totality, fully independent and democratically-run Students’ Unions that can, at all time, stand for and defend public education in all tertiary institutions in the country.

We believe that only an independent and elected students union leadership can fight for the interest of its members, just as staff unions like the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other education workers unions always do, especially on issues relating to adequate funding of education, provision of infrastructural facilities, reduction and reversal of school fees and every other obnoxious attacks on the right to public education. The ERC believe that the series of unbearable charges and attacks that are being imposed on students across the country without much challenge are possible because of the weakness of the students movement occasioned by the constant attacks on the right to independent unionism through proscription as well as victimization of activists.

It is no doubt that the absence of independent, democratic, virile and mass-based students unions has contributed to the numerous problems students confront on many campuses. For instance, a University like the University of Abuja (UNIABUJA) lack adequate facilities for teaching and learning. So bad is the situation that most 400 Level students of chemical department do not have any practical experience nor have they partaken in any real laboratory experiment. At the moment, the faculty of law of the university of Abuja cannot admit students into 100 and 200 Levels this year because of the problems with accreditation. These are all sort of problems affecting Uniabuja students and for which they need a Students’ Union to protect their interests. Members of the transition council, were hand-picked by the university management. Therefore they are mainly a council of passive elements who cannot challenge authorities anti-student policies.

In its own case, the Nassarawa State University, Keffi, is not much better than a technical or secondary school when you consider its inadequate and antiquated infrastructures. The management of Nassarawa State University, is fond of cajoling students that the students union activities was proscribed due to religious clashes that occurred in the past leading to the death of a student. According to the management, restoring the Students union risk bringing back religious and tribal clashes as students jostle for leadership of the union.

While the ERC condemn religious and tribal clashes, we do not think this is a convincing reason to proscribe union activities. Religious and tribal clashes that now frequently occur as students jostle for union leadership position is a reflection of the ideological decay of the students movement as well as the interference of the State. Once radical ideas stopped reigning in the student movement, it was not long before base ethnic and religious sentiments took over. In most cases, some of these clashes over students union elections occur when managements and politicians interfere by sponsoring one aspirant against the other. We think the Nassarawa state University authorities are merely being clever by half. If truly the incidence of religious and tribal crises can only be resolved through putting an end to unionism then perhaps Nigeria as an entity should immediately cease to exist since it has witnessed ethnic and religious crises of monstrous proportion for much of its existence.

The excuse of tribal and religious clashes are mere smokescreens. The reality is that the Nassarawa state University management understands the power of unionism than the students themselves. As a result, the management is mindful of organized students union that can lead students against the management to demand better welfare condition on campus. This is the real reason why the management does not want students union activities restored. And it is on this premise that the council of the faculty Presidents, being the creation of the university management, has never done anything tangible to address the problems students face on campus.

ERC Demands:

* Immediate reinstatement of an independent, democratic and mass-based Students’ Union at the University of Abuja and the Nassarawa State University, Keffi that can promote and defend students interest.

* Democratic running of the institutions through the participation of elected representatives of the both academic and non-academic unions of staff and students in decision making structures

Finally, we call on students that are thirsty of genuine change in the society as well as quality education in the country to join the ERC. The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) is an organization committed to a struggle for provision of free and democratically managed public education at all levels and respect for democratic rights in schools.

Akande Daniel Babatunde
Coordinator ERC FCT Abuja Chapter