Mass Protest on Wednesday 17 July in Ibadan
On the Friday, 12th July, 2013, members of the Education Right Campaign (ERC), University of Ibadan branch, staged a public stall at the main gate of the university to kick start its campaign for a united struggle among students and education workers against poor funding and chronic commercialization of Nigeria public education, particularly in the face of the current university lecturers strike.
The activity which was originally meant to start by 10am could not start until 11.30am. This delay was caused by the attempt by university security agents, who were demanding for permission letter to hold the activity from the Dean of Students, to frustrate the event from being held.
Following the intervention of members of the Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) after an altercation between ERC/DSM comrades and the security agents, the university security men were made to realize that university is a public place. Therefore, no permission is needed for an expression of right to freedom of association and peaceful assembly.
During the event which lasted for over three hours, over two thousand copies of ERC leaflet calling on students to support the strike and for a joint action of education workers and students to fight against attacks on education were distributed among people who include students, workers, non-students.
So many questions and comments both in support and against the strike were ensued while the activity was ongoing. Some students put to us the question of whether the ERC members are actually happy about the strike. While many workers and some students also expressed their dissatisfaction with the attitude of government towards the agreement reached with the ASUU since 2009.
In responding to whether ERC members are happy about the ongoing ASUU strike, it was clearly stated that members of ERC are also students and definitely not happy about avoidable disruption of the academic activities.
|Abbey Trotsky, DSM Secretary Oyo State, stressing a point at the stall|
However, ERC holds that the implementation of ASUU/FGN agreement will to some extent improve the funding the public education in Nigeria and consequently be a relief to Nigerian students who have been groaning under anti-poor neo-liberal policies of underfunding and commercialization of education sector. This explains why we of the ERC are calling on students to unite with the education workers in a struggle to make sure the government implement the agreement it has reached with not only ASUU but all the staff unions in the education sector. It should be recalled that before the ASUU began the strike the polytechnics nationwide had been shut down for over two months also as a result of the failure to government to implement agreement with ASUP and SSANIP. The ERC members have also been active in the struggle of polytechnic workers and students since the beginning of the strike. With this argument, we were able to convince many students of the importance of not only supporting the strike but also taking concrete actions like protests and demonstrations.
This activity was also used to intimate the public about other lined-up programme of ERC to mobilize Nigeria students in support of ASUU demands actually had a tremendous effect on mass of the people who took time to engage ERC comrades in discussion.
Another highlight of the activity was the President of Student Union of University of Ibadan who came and identified with the activity. In discussion, he suggested an urgent need for a meeting of progressive Students' union leaders and activists across the South-West part of the country toward making sure that Nigerian students have their independent programme of activities to force government to implement agreements with ASUU and other unions.
Later, in the evening a meeting of ERC members with representatives from Polytechnic of Ibadan and Moor Plantation and leadership of Students Union of University of Ibadan was held.
At the end of the meeting a three man-committee with two members of ERC : Comrade Micheal (UI) and Comrade Taiwo (Moor plantation) was constituted to work out the modality to convene the meeting of the student activists proposed to hold on Tuesday 17th July, 2013 at SUB university of Ibadan.
Aside this, the ERC is organising a mass protest at the University of Ibadan (U.I) on Wednesday 17 July 2013. Take off point is the UI Students Union Building and time is 7am. This protest together with other activities will go a long way in stepping up students solidarity for the strike.