· Students and Workers Must unite to defend their Rights under Prof. Fagbohun's despotic administration
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC), LASU Chapter, call on students and workers to unite in joint struggle to defend their rights under Prof. Fagbohun-led university administration. We have every reason to believe, going by series of happenings, that the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Lanre Fagbohun is hell bent on returning LASU to its inglorious past when impunity reigned supreme, the democratic rights of students and workers routinely violated and fees hiked beyond what poor students could afford.
Two recent developments confirm the assertion above: (1) the recent increment of acceptance fee from N10, 000 to N20, 000 and (2) the unlawful sack of Dr. Isaac Oyewumi and Dr. Adebowale Adeyemi-Suenu (both Chairman and Vice Chairman of ASUU-LASU respectively and victimization of other staff unions. These two developments coupled with the University management's attempts to meddle in last LASUSU elections are not accidental. They are part of the underground moves by the University management to prepare the grounds for wholesale increment of fees at all levels and other anti-poor policies. To achieve this, they want to either weaken or destroy all unions on campus. Therefore unless students and workers unite and jointly resist the Prof. Fagbohun administration, more attacks are in the offing.
INCREMENT OF ACCEPTANCE FEE
The ERC strongly condemns increment in acceptance fee from N10, 000 to N20, 000. The increment is unjustifiable considering the pitiable conditions of the working masses who are the parents and sponsors of students. We believe that the responsibility for the funding of public education rest on the government. Any attempt to shift this responsibility to poor parents must be resisted.
Lagos state has enormous resources, which if judiciously managed, are enough to fund public education adequately. We therefore charge students and workers unions (ASUU, NASU, SSANU and NAAT) to reject this hike in acceptance fee and be prepared to resist it with peaceful mass protests, demonstrations and strikes. We must also demand immediate refund to all fresh students who may have paid.
Nobody should be deceived into thinking that this hike in acceptance fee will only affect new students. The truth is that once this hike is accepted, the University will be emboldened to go for further hike in fees across board. Remember that their goal, starting from Tinubu administration to Fashola administration, is wholesale commercialization of LASU by gradually shifting the burden of education funding on poor parents. Only the mass struggle of 2014 stopped them in their tracks. So if we do not struggle now, we may be opening a floodgate of extensive fee increase that will return LASU to its unenviable position of the most expensive state university in the country.
FOR AN EMERGENCY STUDENTS CONGRESS
We applaud LASUSU for the directive to halt the payment of acceptance fee, after series of agitations by students. However, the students union should be tactical in their approach to the struggle for the reversal. Their demand should not just be that hike in the acceptance fee be reversed, they must also demand a refund to all fresh students who may have paid. This is not impossible. When the astronomical fees were reversed in 2014 by the Fashola administration after a tumultuous struggle, students who had paid were refunded. With struggle all things are possible. Emphatically, it is important to point it out that before the student union leaders make any critical decision on behalf of all students it is indispensable to always carry along the mass of students because the students remain the gallant army of the union. Therefore, we at the ERC LASU Chapter call on the union leaders to convene an EMERGENCY STUDENTS CONGRESS in order to arm them with necessary information so that they can be properly involved in the struggle to resist the hike in acceptance fee.
Also, the union leaders should not be bamboozled that the issue of acceptance fee do not affect members of the union, that it only affects non-matriculated students who are simply her prospective members. That itself is the more reason to struggle for them, to show them that the union is capable of defending their interest eventually when they become union members. Also it is part of the tradition of our union to solidarize with other oppressed people and to fight their cause not to talk of our potential members whom we have brothers and sisters amidst them. Infact our past union leadership has records to show for this. We also call on students to be on the neck of the union leadership to ensure the reversal is achievable because an Injury to one is an injury to all. We must not wait until it affects us or be carried away with the fact that it will not affect us.
POLITICALLY-MOTIVATED VICTIMISATION OF ASUU LASU LEADERS
In the same vein, the ERC urge LASUITES to condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the witch-hunt and politically-motivated victimization of leaders of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU LASU) and other unions at the Lagos State University (LASU). The agenda of the Prof. Fagbohun administration is either to weaken or destroy all unions so that its policies to increase fees at all levels and impose other anti-poor policies can be implemented with little or no resistance. If the management succeeds at destroying ASUU and other staff unions, very soon it would pounce on LASUSU and destroy it as well.
Therefore all students and workers on campus must be opposed to this victimization and demand the immediate and unconditional recall of Dr. Isaac Oyewumi and Dr. Adebowale Adeyemi-Suenu (respectively Chairman and Vice Chairman of ASUU LASU). This dismissal is not an effort to rid LASU of corruption and nepotism but a grand plot to cow the unions on campus using dirty means including slamming on their leaders false allegations in order to portray them as criminals. This is why the processes leading to the dismissal of the union leaders were marred with irregularities and manipulation which violates the very principles of natural justice.
This method of calling a dog a bad name in order to hang it is not at all new. As the public would recall, this was exactly the same manner Prof. Obafunwa (former LASU VC) orchestrated the withdrawal of the PhD of the then ASUU Chairman, Dr. Adekunle Idris just because ASUU was openly critical of his various undemocratic and anti-poor policies including the fee hike which was imposed on students then. The crime for which these union leaders are being victimized is their opposition to the illegal appointments, brazen violation of University rules and impunity of the Prof. Fagbohun administration. The truth is that Vice Chancellor, Prof. Fagbohun wants to run the University like a military fortress where no voices of dissent are welcomed.
This is why LASU is one of the most militarized campuses anywhere in Nigeria with fully armed Campus marshals patrolling round the campus, extorting and harassing students with impunity under the pretext of enforcing a so-called dress code which is actually a crude violation of the fundamental rights of students. The ERC opposes all these undemocratic policies like dress code and demands the full demilitarization of the campus. There must be a clear distinction between a military garrison and a University campus!
We believe the sack of Dr. Isaac Oyewumi and Dr. Adebowale Adeyemi-Suenu is politically-motivated and the allegations are fabricated. However if the Prof. Fagbohun-led administration feels confident that it really has genuine allegations against them, then the University should submit itself to public scrutiny. As far as we are concerned, LASU is a public institution funded by tax-payers money. Therefore when controversies like this break out, the public has a right to know the truth. This is why we again reiterate our demand for an independent panel of inquiry composed of competent Nigerians and representatives of the labour movement, professional groups, alumni association, parents and students to look into the whole crises including the allegations and the processes leading to the dismissal of two ASUU leaders as well as other cases of with-hunt and politically-motivated victimization ongoing in the University.
1) Reversal of acceptance from N20, 000 to N10, 000 and a prompt refund to all fresh students who may have paid.
2) Improved funding of public education and democratic control and management of LASU
3) Recall of Dr. Isaac Oyewumi and Dr. Adebowale Adeyemi-Suenu (Chairman and Vice Chairman of ASUU LASU respectively)
4) An independent panel of inquiry to look into the whole crises including the allegations and the processes leading to the dismissal of two ASUU leaders as well as other cases of with-hunt and politically-motivated victimization ongoing in the University.
5) Respect of students and workers right to independent unionism
6) An end to Dress Code and full demilitarization of LASU
JOIN THE ERC
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) fights for better funding of public education and democratic management of schools. We also defend the rights of students and education workers. Join us today. Tel. 08182241535, 08188878976. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blog: www.educationrightscampaign.blogspot.com. Website: www.socialistnigeria.org.
Facebook: facebook.com/edu.rights. Twitter: @ERC_Rights.
This a leaflet being currently circulated at Lagos State University by the ERC