*NO TO FEE HIKE! IMPROVED FUNDING AND DEMOCRATIC MANAGEMENT OF LAUTECH IS THE ONLY WAY FORWARD!
*ERC BLAMES OSUN AND OYO STATE GOVERNMENTS FOR THE LAUTECH CRISIS!
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) condemns the governments of Osun State and Oyo State for their irresponsibility which has been the cause of the lingering crisis at the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, LAUTECH, Ogbomoso. It is longer news that LAUTECH has been shut down for about Seven (7) months now. This is absolute contempt by the respective governments for the future of the youths particularly the students of this supposed great institution. This contempt makes it obvious that the interest of both the Oyo and Osun State governments is to kill public education as a basis to present the private tertiary institutions as an alternative and in turn making education less affordable, less accessible and of less quality.
OYO AND OSUN GOVERNMENTS ARE TO BE BLAMED FOR THE CLOSURE
This closure was a direct consequence of the inability of the two state governments to pay the salaries and allowances of workers in the school. This is a result of the fact that both states did not pay the subvention that was necessary for the smooth running of the school. This subvention owed by Osun state and Oyo state is about 22 months.
To us in ERC, this is a sign of gross irresponsibility on the part of the two state governments. Despite the decline in the revenue from the FG, it is a deceit for either of the two state governments to claim that there are no enough financial resources at their disposal to have avoided this closure in the first instance. It is the misappropriation and financial corruption of both state governments that have led to the inability to pay the workers’ wages, not shortage of funds. The shared funding responsibility on the two states was meant to ensure that the university is appropriately funded, yet the activities of the university have been brought to an abrupt stop due to low funding.
The ERC fully backs the struggle of the staff unions of LAUTECH because it is a struggle to resist the penchant of Oyo and Osun to shirk their responsibilities towards the institution. We therefore put the blame for the continued closure of the University on the intransigence of the anti-education governments of Oyo and Osun states. At the same time, we share the concern and anger of students over the continued closure. Seven (7) months of idleness at home is enough to spark anger among students. This is an entire seven months wasted in the lives of these young people for no reason of theirs. Also due to the fact that the school is not a residential school, the closure has led to a situation where most students’ rents have lapsed without them staying in the rented apartment for up to half of their yearly tenancy.
STAND AGAINST DIVISION! WORKERS AND STUDENTS UNITE IN STRUGGLE
The attention of the ERC has been drawn to an earlier development in the institution where some rented thugs under the pretense of indigenes of the resident town were sponsored to beat up some workers in the institution. We condemn this in its entirety and see it as a ploy to distract workers and stakeholders of the school from the main enemy of progress, which is the government.
We also suspect this dastardly action being perpetrated under the guise of campaigning for a review of the joint ownership of the university as a gimmick possibly initiated by both state governments and their surrogates, who are beneficiaries of the rot, to divide and rule the workers of the university against the interest of the workers. It is this divide-and-rule tactics that is behind the directive that the funds paid by one state should be used to pay workers originating from that state alone.
While it has been reported that Osun state allegedly owes more of the funding debts, this does not vindicate the Oyo state government that have always been known for her belligerent and anti-poor attitude towards public education. The two states are run by the capitalist All Progressives Congress (APC) ruling party, and therefore share the same pro-commercialization underfunding policies on the public education sector.
In particular, the Ajimobi-led Oyo state government has no leverage to claim a moral high ground over his fellow anti-poor Osun state governor, Aregbesola. We must all recall the magnificent seven-week strike/mass protests of Oyo state workers, teachers and pupils last year over unpaid wages and attempts by the Oyo state government to sell off public secondary schools under the guise of Public Private Partnership (PPP).
At the moment, almost all the state-owned tertiary institutions in Oyo state are either on strike or at different stages of agitations over unpaid salaries and dwindling subventions. Against this background therefore, there is no guarantee that LAUTECH will enjoy any spectacular progress even if sole ownership is granted to Oyo state as some groups have erroneously argued. More so with the prevailing neo-liberal consensus of the federal and state governments to unload the burden of the economic recession on the working and poor masses, there is no safe refuge anywhere. Only the preparedness of workers and students to fight at all times to defend the right to a public-funded and quality education can win concessions.
The ERC therefore urge workers, students and the mass of people in Osun and Oyo states to resist the attempt to sow division and hatred among them. Only the anti-poor governments of Osun and Oyo will benefit from such division. We therefore call for unity of workers, students and the mass of people of Oyo and Osun states in common struggle to fight for improved funding of LAUECH, re-opening of the institution and provision of adequate facilities for quality education.
NO TO FEE HIKE! FOR INCREASED SUBVENTION TO LAUTECH
It is with this premise that we reject in advance the proposal to increase the school fees of the students by 65% and 75% for indigenes and non-indigenes respectively, in order to cover for the shortage of funds. We consider the opinion of fee increment anti-poor because parents being owed salaries and those being paid half-salaries cannot be expected to provide the funds to run the school.
We fully understand that any increment will only deprive many students of the ability to afford tertiary education and on this basis, we strongly advise the state governments to desist from such disruptive plans. The fee increment, as proposed by Governor Ajimobi at a town hall meeting, would raise the fee of the school to about N350, 000. But, the comment of the governor of Oyo state, Ajimobi, as reported by Premium Times on December 19, 2016 that ‘there are universities that operate without subvention’ expresses concretely that the state governments are not interested in the proper funding of the university, as the governments audaciously compare the institution to private universities.
NO TO REPRESSION! FOR RESPECT OF DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS INCLUDING THE RIGHT TO INDEPENDENT STUDENTS UNIONISM
We also condemn the totalitarian tendencies entrenched in the communiqué of the meeting of the two states which was published in the Vanguard of October, 21st 2016, that ‘the duo states hereby enjoin all residents of the two states as well as other stakeholders including students, teachers and workers to go about their lawful duties… The states warned that anyone or group that does otherwise will face the full wrath of the law’.
The above quote defeats all logic of diplomatic governance as governors are asking unpaid workers to go to work instead of paying them. Also, the statement is enough grounds for the indictment of the state governments in the shooting of peacefully protesting students on the 9th of December the same year, as allegedly ordered by the governor of Oyo state. In fact, the tyranny was so pronounced that the police were ordered to arrest the protesting students.
We demand a halt to all repressions either against students or workers. Also we demand that students’ democratic rights to peaceful protest and independent unionism be respected. Together with the attacks on workers of the institution, students of LAUTECH are also being denied the right to independent unionism. Using the pretext of a crisis during the last Students Union elections, the authorities in a brazen and despotic manner proscribed the union thus denying the mass of students a legitimate voice and platform to articulate their demands. The ERC demands that students be allowed to democratically run their union without interference from the authorities. We therefore demand the restoration of the LAUTECH Students Union.
STRUGGLE CONTINUES UNTIL VICTORY!
The ERC stands with LAUTECH students and urge them to organize bigger protests and demonstrations until the University is opened. However even if the school is forced opened, we must continue to demand improved funding and democratic management of the University because only this can guarantee peace and quality education on the long run. We call on the entire students’ movement, the labour movement, civil society organizations and the general public to rise to the aid of LAUTECH staff and students by condemning the refusal of Osun and Oyo states to fulfill their responsibilities.
This issued by Education Rights Campaign, ERC. ERC is a platform formed by members of Democratic Socialist Movement, DSM. To join us or more information contact the following numbers: 07033697259, 08172748666, and 08161836554