Sunday 24 August 2014


Governor Amosun's Action is a Mockery of Democracy

The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) condemns the forced closure of Olabisi OnabanjoUniversity (OOU) by the Ibikunle Amosun state government. We are equally opposed to the militarisation of the campus by the state government which was meant to demobilise the mass of students from organizing further planned mass actions against the fee hike.

We demand the immediate reopening of the University and the meeting of all demands of students for substantial reduction in their hiked fees and improved funding of the University.

According to press reports, the closure is to "forestall breakdown of law and order". This argument is ridiculous. It is also a mockery of democracy. By this closure, the message the state government is passing across is that once students disagree with a government policy, the consequence would be to be "labelled as threat to peace of the state", the closure of their campus and the disruption of their academics.

Governor Ibikunle Amosun should check his language. In this era of boko haram terror, describing ordinary students and young people who are merely protesting for their rights as "threat to peace" is highly damaging to the image of these students who are the Nation's future and moreover, it is an insult to their parents.

The real reason the State government closed down the University is to avoid meeting the demands of students for substantial reduction in their hiked fees to an amount not higher than N50, 000. To achieve this, the State government is trying to criminalize the students and prepare the ground for police arrests and other forms of victimisation. We like to remind the Ogun State Police Command that this is a democracy and the use of police to harrass students and ordinary Nigerians fighting for their legitimate right will not be tolerated. The ERC shall resist attempts by the Police to arrest, detain or victimise OOU students and their leaders in any way.

The Amosun Government like all APC governments has elevated lying into a statecraft. The impression being deliberately created that students are violent is not true. Some weeks ago, the students protested peacefully to the Governors Office in Abeokuta. The first day of the protest, some hoodlums attacked the students while the police watched. The next day, the police fired tear gas at the students, arrested, slapped and brutalised the Vice President of the Students Union, Seliat Ogunbiyi. It was only when it became clear that the use of violence would not disperse the students that Governor Amosun now came down to discuss with the students. At the end of the parley, the Governor asked for a few days after which he would invite the students leaders to discuss how to resolve the issues. The students promptly dispersed and went back to their campus to await the Governor. If the students were really violent and could cause "breakdown of law and order", would it have been possible for the Governor to meet and parley with them?

The ERC believes that the real threat to the peace of Ogun State is the anti-poor and dictatorial Amosun-led state government whose pro-rich, divisive and cynical policies on education have the capability not only to cause "breakdown of law and order" but also to mortgage the future of the youths.

We hold that the forced closure of the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU) is a direct attack on the democratic rights of the mass of students. We call on the mass of students to remain resolute and dogged inspite of all these attacks. We demand the reversal of the closure of the university and for the the Ibikunle Amosun regime to meet the demands of the mass of students.

We call on the leadership of the Students' union in the university to provide virile leadership to the mass of students by organizing mass meetings of students in main cities such as Abeokuta, Ago Iwoye, Ijebu-Ode and Lagos where the mass of students are concentrated. It is only by this approach that practical activities such as mass occupations and protests can be undertaken. It is equally through this approach that the struggle for the total reversal of the fee hike can be achieved.

The ERC supports the struggle and demands of OOU students. The same way we backed students of the Lagos State University (LASU) to resist and ultimately defeat the Fashola anti-poor government fee hike, we shall support OOU students until the anti-poor and dictatorial Ibikunle Amosun-led government of Ogun State bows to the people's will.

Hassan Taiwo Soweto                                                                       Michael Ogundele                               
National Coordinator                                                            National Secretary                             

Thursday 21 August 2014


It is only an organised struggle and mass actions of the entirety of Ogun State students that will actualise the reduction in the hiked fees across all state owned tertiary institutions.
We of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) welcome the recent announcement of reduction of the hiked school fees across all existing state owned tertiary institutions by the Governor Ibikunle Amosun government. While we welcome this decision of the state government, we call for its immediate implementation and the meeting of the demands of students of the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU) for further reduction in their fees to an amount not more than N50, 000.
The proposal from the state government to fully implement the reduction in the 2014/2015 academic session should be rejected in totality by rank and file studentry across all the tertiary institutions. By this, we therefore, urge the generality of student to continue mounting political pressure on the state government so that the reduction will actually come to stay.
The ERC believes that the public resources at the disposal of the state government, if democratically and judiciously managed, can guarantee free and quality education across all levels in the state. And in that manner, the decision of the state government to reduce the astronomic fees in Olabisi Onabanjo University, (OOU), by 41.4% and 35.9%, Moshood Abiola Polytechnics, (MAPOLY) by 31.1% and 9.1%, Tai Solarin University of Education, (TASUED) by 27.5% and returning students by 30.4%, Ogun State Institute of Technology, Igbesa by 61% is a clear evidence that publicly funded education system is possible especially if all the public resources in the state is put under the democratic management and control of elected representatives of students, education workers, parents and other members  of the education system. This is the additional reason we of ERC join thousands of Ogun State students to demand for more reductions of the killing fees imposed on students of OOU, MAPOLY, TASUED and Ogun State Institute of Technology.
It is of importance to draw the attention of the entirety of Ogun State students to the recent development at the Lagos State University (LASU) - an institution owned by the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) government of Governor Fashola. Fashola during the 19th convocation ceremony of LASU was forced to reverse the astonomic fees of LASU to its original amount of N25,000. This came in place after 3 years of tumultuous struggles and titanic protests waged against the capitalist thieving elites in Lagos State. Therefore, the pronouncement by Governor Amosun reducing these killing fees of all existing state-owned institutions is a contagious effect from his ruling counterparts in Lagos State and their party's  (APC) fear that its anti-poor policies could make it lose votes at the 2015 general elections. However, Governor Amosun clearly reveal the political undertone behind the reduction of these killing fees in both Lagos and Ogun states by proposing to start its implementation after the 2015 general elections. This further crystallises the motives behind these reductions as a means by the ruling APC government in both states to score a political goal towards 2015 elections.
While we of the ERC strongly support the protest organised by students of OOU under the leadership of the Students' Union we however urge rank and file studentry to be more organised in this period in terms of continuous and passionate waging of mass actions to fight against the commercialisation and privatisation of the public education sector by the state government. Students' Union leaders across all state owned institutions must unite in the struggle to save the public education sector from total collapse. In this campaign, students must unite to come out with plans of mass actions with banners to raise campaign slogans like fight against neo- liberal policies of privatisation of public education sector, poor funding of the education sector, exploitation of students, victimisation of student leaders, attacks on students' democratic rights and for democratic running of schools. All these we believe if properly fought for passionately and consistently will mount political pressure on the ruling government of Governor Amosun.
In conclusion, ERC strongly believes that a struggle of this nature can gain certain political victory especially if it links up with the working class struggle within the state. Education workers like ASUU, ASUP, NASU and SSANU should join the students in the struggle against commercialisation of education in the state. Solidarity from these workers' union is important to ensure victory. By this we strongly urge these unions to declare a day of mass actions in support of the students who are forced to pay through their nose the killing fees imposed on them by the state government and his allies. Ogun state chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) must as well throw their support behind the struggling students who are suffering under the shackles of the state government neo- liberal and anti- poor capitalist education policies.

Yours in Struggle,
Michael Ogundele
ERC National Secretary

Tuesday 19 August 2014


Students Population hits 443 and Still Growing
Appeal for Support to Cope with Growing Numbers

Moshood Oshunfurewa

The free holiday coaching of Education Rights Campaign (ERC) entered its second week last week. There is four more weeks to go and already, the number of participants has swelled to 443 (four hundred and forty three)! There are now 153 in SS1, 164 in SS2 and 126 in SS3.

The program is taking place at the Anglican Primary School, 1 Ezie Lane off boundary road Ajegunle, Apapa, Lagos.

Last week we reported 79 students and 17 volunteer teachers in the first two days of the coaching. The exponential growth we are witnessing is another testament to the hunger for education among young people, and goes to confirm that it is government neglect and abandon that is cutting short the dream of the youths.

A class in progress
In the working class community of Ajegunle, many of these young students would be busy roaming about the neighborhood and streets if the opportunity of attending a free coaching was not on offer. This is because so deep is poverty in Ajegunle that the amount charged by private and public coaching organizers is often beyond the means of many parents. For most poor parents, the priority would be to save for the expenses that would crop up after the school holiday ends than spend the little they have on coaching classes. 

If public education were quality and of high standard, there may be no need to attend extra classes outside of the normal school classes. Unfortunately due to the complete collapse of public education, secondary school students needs extra coaching during the holidays to prepare for the new term and also for external examinations like WAEC, NECO and UTME. The ERC free holiday coaching is like a welcome relief to many working class parents and students in Ajegunle. We are glad to have been able to keep on providing this service since 2005.

However, more support (both financial and otherwise) would be helpful in ensuring that we are able to cope with the incredible turnout which actually is still growing. As the news of the exercise spreads, more and more students turn up eager to benefit. At this stage, more donations will help in ensuring that we are able to accommodate each and every one of the new students turning up every day.

Volunteer Teachers
Apart from financial support, more volunteer teachers are needed. Presently, the number of Volunteer teachers has increased to 23 but more are needed. Please contact us through (07033697259 and if you have any support you would like to give.

Every Friday, a career and counseling session is held. Last week, the coaching played host to Dr. Kuti Ezebiro, an architect, writer and poet and Dr. Sanni, a medical doctor in the community.

Dr. Ezebiro stressed the need for the students to prepare diligently for success, which can only be achieved through constant learning and searching for knowledge. 

Dr. Kuti Ezebiro counseling the students
Dr Sanni, a medical doctor of City of Hope hospital was happy as he could not believe his eyes when he saw the number of students present. He enjoined all the students to take the advantage of the free coaching to learn and study. He also told them about the values of hard work.

He educated the students on the Ebola virus, stressing the need for proper hygiene to prevent infection.

Students are hopeful to receive more wonderful visitors this Friday during the week’s career and counseling talk. They are also happy for the fact the coaching gave them opportunities to meet with students from other schools and to cross fertilize ideas and to meet professionals that inspire them.

The ERC was formed by the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) since 2004 to fight for better funding of education. The ERC campaigns for the provision of free, functional and democratically-managed public education at all levels. We support all struggles of students and education workers for improvement in working conditions, better pay, against fee hike and commercialization and for an end to infringement on democratic rights on campuses.

In communities such as Ajegunle, we work actively among school students and teachers to campaign for the renovation of school buildings, stoppage of illegal charges and improvement in the teaching and learning facilities. The free holiday coaching while it provides opportunity for indigent students to attend coaching classes during the long-term holiday also helps to highlight the abandon and neglect of public education especially in poor communities like Ajegunle and helps to point search light at the activities of the authorities in charge of the schools.

Saturday 16 August 2014


           Demand of OOU Students for Further Reduction of Hiked Fees Must be Met Immediately and Unconditionally
           Only a Solution that is Acceptable by Students of All the Affected Institutions in Ogun State Can Guarantee Academic Peace


The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) calls on the Governor Amosun-led Ogun State government to immediately and unconditonally meet the justified demand of students of the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU) for further reduction in their tuition fees to an amount less than N50,000.

While the ERC welcomes the reduction of fees across all tertiary institutions in the State as announced by the Ogun State government on Monday 11 August 2014, we believe that it is still too marginal to assuage the suffering of students from poor working class background especially those at the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU) who pay as high as N300, 000.

The ERC therefore fully supports the students' demand for further reduction of their fees to an amount less than N50, 000.  However we must quickly point out that even this falls very short of what can begin to resolve the crisis in public education in Ogun State. The ERC is convinced that only full reversal of all hiked fees and a commitment by the State government to improve funding to all the tertiary institutions together with democratic management of the schools can guarantee affordable and accessible education for all students in Ogun State.

On Thursday 14 August 2014, Students of the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU) irked and unsatisfied by an announcement by the State Government to marginally reduce all tuition fees of all the State-owned tertiary institutions had trooped to the Governor's office to demand further reduction of their fees to a sum less than N50,000. Very instructive is that fact that many students see the reduction announced by the State government as a mere publicity stunt as it is a minimal reduction which does not translate into a serious change of fortune for poor students from working class background.

The ERC believes the points being made by OOU students over the reduction carried out by the State government are very valid. We commend them for seeing through the deceit and fraud of the State Government. Right before now, students at the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU) pay far more than other students in the State. Therefore a marginal reduction across board will not mean the same in OOU compared to their colleagues in other institutions.

For instance based on the fee reduction, medical students of the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), who had been paying N301, 610 would now pay N176, 596, which is 41.4 per cent reduction. Also, students of the Faculty of Arts in the same university would be paying N81, 112 instead of the current fee of N126, 540, a 35.9 per cent reduction. In comparison, students of the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta, will now be paying N40, 000 for Higher National Diploma (HND), while National Diploma (ND) students will pay N22, 300, a reduction of 31.1 and 9.6 per cent respectively. Fresh students of Tai Solarin University of Education (TASUED) will now pay N75, 000 instead of N103, 435, representing 27.5 per cent reduction, while returning students, who were paying N93, 465, would now pay N65, 000, representing 30.4 per cent reduction. Higher National Diploma (HND) students of Ogun State Institute of Technology, Igbesa, currently paying N118, 000, would now be paying N46, 000, a reduction of 61 per cent.

To make matters worse, the marginal fee reduction would take effect from the 2014/2015 academic session, sometimes after the 2015 elections when the government would be under no pressure to keep its promise. The reality is that OOU students are fed up with the routine deceit, habitual lies and propaganda of the APC-led government in the State. For instance, Governor Amosun of the APC promised a 50% reduction while campaigning during the 2011 elections and only implemented a 10% reduction after getting elected.

For the All Progressive Congress (APC)-led governments in every state, lying has been perfected into a state craft. Hapless okada riders in Lagos were the guinea pig upon which the laboratory test of this new art of governance was first carried out. In LASU, there is as yet the palpable fear that the current reversal will only last till the 2015 elections. We believe OOU students were being farsighted to have taken the decision not to accept hook, line and sincere the Ogun State Government's deceitful promise of reduction. Students of other Institutions in Ogun State would be wise if they join up with OOU students to fight together for not just a further reduction but a full reversal of all fees and increase in funding that will take effect immediately and unconditionally.

We believe the Amosun-led State government's decision to reduce the fees was motivated more by the concern of the All progressive Congress (APC) to mend its anti-poor image especially as the 2015 elections approaches than by a genuine concern for the interests of the poor and toiling students, especially those in OOU, who have been agitating over their hiked fees since the inception of the present administration.

Against the background of the recent successful struggle of LASU students, the argument that fee hike cannot be fully reversed have been defeated. Inspired by the victory in LASU, students in Ogun State and nationwide cannot settle for less. Therefore the State government will be saving itself a lot of troubles if it immediately reverses the fees and goes on to increase the budgetary allocation to the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU) and all the other tertiary institutions in the State to ensure that the fortunes of public education in Ogun State is turned around for the better.

The ERC staunchly believes that free, public-funded and democratically-managed education is possible in Nigeria. Why the All Progressive Congress (APC), the People's Democratic Party (PDP) and other political parties have been unable to achieve this despite the huge resources at the command of the States they are ruling is because of their anti-poor and pro-capitalist orientation and the endemic corruption of their party members in government. This is the more reason why a new political party like the newly-formed Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) which promises to implement socialist economic policies that will ensure the provision of free education at all levels needs to come to power.

Ultimately, the struggle to save public education can only win when political power is won by pro-masses party or parties that can do the job of fixing the Nation's problem. The APC has been fully exposed as an incompetent party that talks "progressive" but does everything opposite. While the party inscribes in its manifesto support for "free" education, at the same time the party is carrying out the biggest attacks on public education and tertiary schools in the States where the party exists charges the highest fees. We need a new political party that truly puts the working and poor people at the centre of its policies and programs and not false progressive parties that routinely make promises at election times only to break them once elected.

Hassan Taiwo Soweto                                      Michael Ogundele                           
National Coordinator                                       National Secretary