Friday 27 September 2013

Militarization of UNILAG and the Arrest of Students activists in U.I

ERC Condemns Rising  Incidence of Police Clampdown on Protesters 
The Struggle to Save Public Education Will Go On Despite Clampdown
Press Statement

As the strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) continues, the Police and the State Security Service (SSS) have recently become active in clamping down on students, workers and activists protesting against government refusal to meet ASUU's and other Staff Unions' demands.
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) condemn these renewed attacks on the democratic rights to organise and peacefully protest. The struggle to compel the anti-public education federal government to meet the demands of ASUU, ASUP, COEASU, SSANU, NASU and all unions will continue despite these clampdowns.
Two cases in point are the militarisation of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) on Tuesday, 24 September 2013 and the forceful dispersal of a protest called by the NANS JCC Lagos Axis for that day and also the arrest, harassment and detention of some students activists at the University of Ibadan (U.I) on Wednesday 25, September 2013. The arrested students, some of whom are members of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC), had gathered at the University for a press conference organised to sensitize the public on the lingering ASUU strike and government underfunding  of public education.
Similarly on 19 September 2013 at the protest called by the Joint Action Front (JAF) to build support for the ASUU strike as well as other unions in the education sector in Abeokuta Ogun State, police presence doubled the number of protesters! This show of force by the police was not just an harmless display. Actually it was meant to frighten people from joining  protest and to also show that the government is capable of stopping the rising movement in the education sector.
All right-thinking Nigerians, the labour movement and civil  society must condemn this resort to police repression by the government. We specifically call on the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to publicly condemn these assaults on the democratic rights to assemble and protest.
We equally urge the NLC and TUC to give sufficient support to the  struggles of ASUU and all other unions that are on strike or have embarked on strike to accomplish demands bordering on members pay, conditions and funding of public education. A 2-day solidarity general strike called by the NLC and TUC will give a powerful boost to the struggle to save public education and pile pressure on government to consider meeting the demands of the unions.
However these militaristic tactics rather than strengthen President Jonathan's anti-poor government are in themselves unimpeachable evidence of the unpopularity and complete loss of credibility of the government and its anti-poor policies among the mass of Nigerian people.
We urge ASUU and all other unions fighting to save public education not to relent. We urge parents and members of the public to continue to add their voice to the increasing voices condemning the warped priority of a government that spends hundreds of billions to bail out banks but stoutly refuses to allocate resources to rescue public education from decay and collapse. We again urge ASUU to take the struggle a notch higher by naming a day for nationwide mass protest and demonstration.

Hassan Taiwo Soweto                                                                                  
National Coordinator                                                          

Wednesday 25 September 2013

JAF Abeokuta Rally: Workers and Students Continue Save Public Education Struggle

By Wole Olubanji (Engels)

On 19th September, 2013, the Joint Action Front (JAF), in conjunction with the branches of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in Ogun state organized a mass procession in Abeokuta in continuation of the ‘Save Public Education Struggle’. 

About 10 members of the ERC, who are also DSM comrades, from branches in Lagos, Oyo and Ogun States intervened at this struggle with our leaflets, paper (Socialist Democracy) and ERC banner. 

The procession started from NNPC Mega Station at Abeokuta with about 200 protesters. This included ASUU members, donning apron with inscription “strike monitoring committee”, a good number of students and JAF members especially from Lagos. For ASUU, its participation at the Abeokuta demo was better than the turnout at the August 13 JAF protest in Lagos. Yet this does not mean that the mobilization method of ASUU has improved over the last one. This is because with participation of various branches of ASUU (from Ogun, Lagos, Oyo) at the Abeokuta demo, a larger number of rank and file lecturers should have participated. 

While appreciate the roles the ASUU has been playing in the JAF organized save public education struggle, the ERC has been calling on the ASUU to name a day of national protest and massively mobilize members, parents, students and working people as the next step in their struggle to save public universities from collapse. 

The procession started with a short speech by Biodun Aremu (Secretary of JAF), which captured the focus of the protest – sensitisation of the masses on the crisis in public education. The procession had barely started when a battalion of Policemen led by the Ogun state Commissioner of police showed up. Remarkably, these armed policemen easily outnumbered the protesters. Even with this, the protesters were not intimidated as they continued to chant anti-repression slogans and songs. While reacting to this situation, Biodun Aremu enjoined the protesters to maintain the protest line and not take issues up with the policemen. In his words, “we are not here to fight the policemen…, the police too cannot afford hundreds of thousands of naira to send their children to school”.

While the heavy presence of policemen also attracted public interest to the movement, the protesters were distributing leaflets within the traffic logjam created by the procession. It was during this period that we sold most of the 51 copies sold altogether at the rally.

The procession stopped at Kuto and other markets to address traders, buyers and passers-by on the failure of the government to adequately fund education, decay in public education and the need for mass actions.  The speakers also explained why government must be blamed for the recent strikes of workers at tertiary institutions, especially the current ASUU strike, with attendant long closure of schools. Apparently, the reaction of the people was very receptive. One of the market women, in an obvious indignation, condemned the government who has kept her child at home for the past 3 months when she should have graduated last month.

It was part of the protest plan to show a power-point documentary of Needs Assessment report which reveals the alarming extent of decadence and deterioration of the public universities. But the proposed venue was unsuitable because of its high exposure to sunlight. The procession eventually ended at IweIroyin, NUJ chapel in Abeokuta.  

In all, our intervention was successful, so also was the procession itself. Apart from public sensitization the procession was also widely covered by the media.

Friday 13 September 2013

ERC Rounds Off Free Holiday Coaching

On Wednesday 11 September 2013, the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) Free Summer Holiday Coaching came to a glorious end at a joyous closing ceremony held in the compound of the Anglican Primary School, 1 Ezie Lane via Arumoh Street, Opposite Boundary Road, Ajegunle Apapa Lagos. Gracing the occasion were the Education Secretary of the Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government, the Head Teacher of the Anglican Primary School, community leaders and ERC officials.

The event witnessed the handing out of gifts to best three students in the SS1, SS2 and SS3 classes as well as awards to punctual and well-behaved students. The best three students are those who came out first, second and third in each of the classes at the end of the mock examination organised to test how well the students had learnt. The free summer coaching lasted 6-weeks with about 30 teachers volunteering to teach various subjects without pay. In appreciation of the contribution of the volunteer teachers, a certificate was issued to each of them to applause from students. The event also witnessed poetry rendition, songs and drama by the students.

The ERC Free Summer Coaching is a key aspect of ERC's strategy to campaign for the provision of free education by demonstrating in practice the possibility of free and quality education. The coaching also provides indigent students from Ajegunle slum community the opportunity to attend a coaching class during the long vacation. Speaking earlier at the closing ceremony, the ERC National Coordinator H.T Soweto thanked ActionAid Nigeria for their contribution and support towards the success of the coaching. He also thanked the volunteer teachers, the students as well as the guests and counselors who visited the coaching from time to time to talk to the students.

Thursday 12 September 2013





Education is not a privilege
But a right
Because its every childs flight

So lets keep on the fire
Until we can acquire
The nation we desire

Education must be free
Lets join hands together to make it real

Free education is our campaign
Commercial education must be attain
We need education so our future we can maintain



In the period of expansion
We partook in carrying of the cross
And when age of discovering takes place
We roll our power and strength, in one ball
And during the industrial revolution
Our report and struggling were not left behind
Striving and struggling just for
The liberty of this stage

Then comes 1967
Where bullets pairs flesh
Carving scar in hearts
And where mortals pound bones
Our souls were also donated
Which lead us to untimely death
But now, the few capitalized our people
Base on their selfishness
Our bones shall rise for amend
Let our songs echo through the sky
 To the stars and to the moon
For by this means we are saved
From the tragedy of darkness


I was told it was a light
Meant for the outshone illiteracy
To overthrow her ignorance
Gifted to mankind assigning development

Our golden jubilee has passed
But any atom of jubilation?
Seeing the light far from our imagination
And to hope of the few fading away

They said they are the peoples mind
Terminating the intentions of their aces
Hanging their races on an Hyperion tree
Watching their dreams farer than forever

A contemptible assurance
Yet too expensive than it valued
Rendering scholarship
Only to those in high places

Patriots frustrating their scholars
Unable to resist the small from the great
Taking lay down of bribery
I left over the fence stranded

We waved the sun goodbye
The stars not worth a substitute
In haste let rectify the moon
Before the world go darker


The sun finds no mood to shine
For theres no one to smile back
For the stomach sing songs
Of continuous hunger

In the naked street
Is where stories live
Stories of children begging for coin
Stories of man willing to commit suicide
As traffic obstruct the road to their progress
Stories of women marrying the tray
In the killing sun to hawk their goods

And when they adjourned the day job to another day
Their suffering gave them little instead of more
And kids cry out their eyes to their mother
For their fees and needs cannot be afforded
They become the street owners
Raping pockets to fund their need

At every break of dawn
Only the needy can explain how short or long a day is
For every passing sun
Always meet them in the street
Where stories live.



I live in a country
Where there are two classifications of citizens
The wealthy and the paupers
 Where success lives with baboons
And paupers denied of education
And Right live no more.



Hard work elevates man
There may be no assistance whatsoever
There may be nobody to rely on
This makes one indolent
But man must work hard

You might be in affluent home
Rely not on your parents wealth
For what one does not suffer for does not last long
While durability lies on what one labours for
When you are in a wealthy position
Man will dignify you
But when the going becomes tough
Their back they turn

Education is just the light
It elevates one
It makes one a master
Be no idle
Just put on your strength
For tides and time waits for no man.