Members of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) - the campaign platform of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) CWI Nigeria - in solidarity with Spanish students as they embark on a national education strike on October 26, 2016. Free education is a right, not privilege! Aluta Continua, Victoria Ascerta!
Wednesday 26 October 2016
Wednesday 12 October 2016
ERC CONDEMNS POLICE BRUTALISATION AND DETENTION OF STUDENTS LEADERS CAMPAIGNING AGAINST RUSTICATION IN UNILAG
The vicious attack by the police on 14 students’ leaders campaigning against rustication and attacks on the democratic rights of students of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) on Monday October 10 is condemnable and the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni has a duty to caution his men from being turned into private thugs of despotic University Vice Chancellors like the UNILAG VC.
The Police command must also foot the medical bills of the injured students and return the items allegedly seized from them as well as replace items the police willfully damaged during the premeditated assault. These items include phones, laptops, buses and other personal effects of the students and their union.
We make this call conscious of the fact that 48 hours after the incident, the Police has continued to justify its actions with lies and half-truth that will only succeed in portraying members of the police force, a few of whom are quite professional, as a band of private thugs available for hire by any despotic University Vice Chancellor with a deep pocket.
Around midday on Monday 10 October 2016, students leaders and activists under the auspices of the Joint Campus Committee (JCC) of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) Lagos State axis were on their way from the Federal High Court Ikoyi where a case challenging the illegal rustication of leaders of the University of Lagos Students Union (ULSU) came up for hearing when a band of armed policemen descended on them. They were beaten, brutalized and dumped in the cell at SCIID Panti where they were detained till 9pm of the same day.
According to the police spokesperson, SP Dolapo Badmus, in an online statement, the student leaders were so assaulted because the police got wind of the information that they were on their way to disrupt ongoing examinations at the University of Lagos. According to her “some group of students which preliminary investigations revealed are not students of UNILAG arrived Unilag road by Cemetery, in four different buses with the intent to invade Unilag campus, in order to disrupt the on going examination process. The Command’s operatives from Area C command and Yaba division who got wind of the move prevented them from advancing”.
Curiously, SP Badmus has not revealed where the police allegedly “got wind of the move”. Was it a by a tip-off? Did the police ask any of the student leaders and they confirmed their mission was to protest with a view to disrupting ongoing examinations at UNILAG? The students’ delegation was led by the NANS JCC Chairman, Samson Adewale Moses and other officials of the body who are not unknown to the police. How exactly did the police get the information and even if this was true, is the best and most professional way to prevent this from happening by unleashing mayhem on them? It appears that the only “wind of the move” the police, which had been hired by the University weeks before now to patrol the University’s gate in anticipation of protest, got is the fact that buses containing students leaders and activists was on UNILAG road and from this they drew the conclusion that the mission of the buses’ occupants was to invade the University. Meanwhile, UNILAG road does not lead only to the University from which it derives its name; it also leads to other areas of Akoka. Also, the University of Lagos is not the only institution located in Akoka and Yaba area of Lagos. There are several other institutions within the same vicinity.
As far as the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) is concerned, while we do not see disruption of examinations as the best strategy to prosecute struggle, nevertheless, anybody who feel aggrieved about government or Universities’ anti-poor policies has a right to protest at any time and any place he or she deems fit so far he is not breaking any law. Many times, Nigerians have protested in this country shutting down the entire country and occupying public places and government buildings. If the Police reasonably feel that a protest could threaten or disrupt an on-going event like an examination, they are bound by the duty of their profession to offer the best possible protection for the event so threatened through professional policing procedures. Ambushing and beating to stupor students allegedly found on a road leading to UNILAG is crude policing reminiscent of the era of military despotism.
The truth however is that the students had no such mission in mind. They were simply on their way to hold a meeting at one of the higher institutions in the area in order to review the court proceeding and address the media on the next steps of the campaign. At the court, the University of Lagos had succeeded in ambushing the judicial process by not appearing in court thus forcing the court to adjourn the hearing till 25 October 2016. The implication is that the rusticated students’ leaders would be unable to participate in the on-going examinations and consequently lose the entire academic semester. From the court, the students moved in a convoy with a view to using the premises of either FCE Akoka or Yaba College of Technology to do a meeting from which a strategy to continue the campaign would be worked out. It was while on their way that a detachment of the police attacked them.
Monday’s attack on the students is another testimony of the real function of the police as an agency of repression instead of an institution for the maintenance of law and order. This year alone, students have been killed and injured across the country at protests as police fire indiscriminately in defense of the University authorities against students’ peaceful protests to challenge bad policies. The recent shooting and killing of protesting workers in Nassarawa state by the police and that of the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) are recent examples that come to mind.
By their recent actions which are biased towards the University management, we have no doubt that the Police in Lagos have been converted to the private thugs of the Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) in his agenda to keep UNILAG students enslaved. But this will not douse the fire of resistance and struggle. In the coming days, the ERC will take the step of petitioning the appropriate authorities until this matter is treated with the urgency and seriousness it deserves.
Hassan Taiwo Soweto Michael Ogundele
National Coordinator (07033697259) National Secretary
· DEMANDS FOR THE FULL MOBILIZATION OF ALL ELIGIBLE GRADUATES
· REMOVAL OF THE COMPULSION PLACED ON THE SCHEME THEREBY MAKING IT VOLUNTARY
The Education Rights campaign (ERC) Ondo State Chapter condemns the slashing of the Prospective Corps Members (PCM) for the NYSC Batch B by 67%. We consider this as anti-student because many graduates of various institutions nationwide have already spent more than a year at home waiting to be mobilized for service. This is also related to the deliberate action of the government to “kill” public education.
The NYSC, conceived in the aftermath of the 1967-1970 civil war with the objective of fostering national unity, is a mandatory scheme for graduates of higher institutions who are not more than the age of 30 without which they can neither proceed for postgraduate program nor seek employment. Consequently, by slashing the PCM, thousands of graduates would be stranded at home, unable to either proceed to augment their qualifications or seek employment. This is unacceptable and we demand a retraction of the decision.
As an immediate step, the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) demands the full mobilization of all graduates eligible for the Batch B national youth service scheme. Doing otherwise would amount to mortgaging the future of the nation’s youth.
Furthermore, the idea of a compulsory national youth service that all persons must observe regardless of their individual preference is undemocratic and consequently should not be tolerated under a purportedly democratic milieu. We therefore demand an amendment to the Act setting up the NYSC to make it a voluntary service instead of a mandatory scheme. This is necessary to ensure that those who do not wish to serve, regardless of whether or not they have attained the age of 30, can easily be exempted so they can proceed with their life.
We call on prospective Corp members to get organized and take to the street to express their dissatisfaction and anger. Mass meetings and peaceful protest marches should be organized on campuses and to NYSC offices at the state capitals and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja to stop this attempt to mortgage our future. The Students Unions and the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) must play a central role in this mobilization by convening public meetings which should be opened to all students organizations, including left and socialist groups, with a view to discussing strategy to defeat this policy. The labour movement especially the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress (TUC) as well as staff unions in higher institutions must speak up by condemning this policy and be prepared to take mass actions in solidarity with students if government refuses to reverse it.
Despite the N66.83bn budgetary allocation for NYSC, the frequent complaint has been inadequate funding which delayed the batch A stream B till July before being mobilized and hence, forced the batch B PCMs to wait till November. In the same vein, the same excuse is also being canvassed to justify the slashing of batch B PCMs by 67% (2/3).
The outcome of this is that only 33% (1/3) of the eligible graduates from each tertiary institution nationwide would be mobilized this November while the remaining 67% (2/3) will have to wait till 2017 before being mobilized meanwhile these set of students have spent more than a year at home after graduation.
For instance, Nnamdi Azikwe Universty, on 4th of October, released an Internal Memorandum inviting deans of each faculty for a balloting as the PCM of the institution has been slashed from 2,314 to 894. The future of the graduates of the institution has been turned into a bazaar which requires balloting. Also at BOWEN University, reports on the 5th of October has also shown that the PPC of the institution has been reduced from 956 to 367 while the Obafemi Awolowo University (ACE ONDO extension inclusive) which has a minimum of 5,000 graduates will have to mobilize less than 1,500 students.
Despite the challenges faced before and during the service program, the N19, 800 monthly allowance being paid to serving Corp members is too small to sustain them especially during this time of economic recession, deregulation of fuel price, naira devaluation, economic hardship and high cost of living. Even this amount is rarely paid without delays. This year, many Corp members were owed several months of their state allowances. Some state governments even stopped out rightly payment of the allowance citing economic recession.
Nigeria’s public education sector (which should be funded with at least 26% budgetary allocation as recommended by UNESCO) has continued to get worse and there has not been any plan(s) to resuscitate the sector. This trend, together with plans to sell national assets, is a clear indication of the deficiencies of any government under the system of capitalism. This is why it is necessary, even as we continue to fight to defend the socio-economic rights of students and working people, to also build a political movement to overthrow capitalism and enthrone an equitable and democratic socialist society under which public education can be provided free and made accessible to all.
Hence, ERC frowns at the anti-students’ policies of the 43 years old scheme in its attempt to deprive the youths of their rights. We see no reason why the NYSC should not be adequately funded as it serves as first-grade experience for fresh graduates in the labour market and no alternative has yet been provided for the scheme.
We hereby demand, as a matter of urgency and necessity, the mobilization of all eligible graduates. Also, we demand the adequate funding of the scheme for proper and functional running of the scheme, including the raising of the monthly allowance of serving Corp members to an amount capable of ensuring they enjoy a decent living standard during the period of service. Also, we demand the removal of the compulsion placed on NYSC.
Owoyomi Damilola Owot
Education Rights Campaign (ERC)
Ondo State Chapter.
Thursday 6 October 2016
END THE BAN OF UNIABUJA STUDENTS’ UNION AND THE VICTIMIZATION OF STUDENTS ACTIVISTS IN OAU AND UNILAG
We of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC), FCT, Abuja chapter write to condemn the rustication of Student activists at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile Ife and the University of Lagos (UNILAG). We also condemn the ban of independent students’ unionism at the University of Abuja.
We extend solidarity to students in OAU and students activists in UNILAG who are currently being victimized by university managements and we also call for the lifting of the ban placed on students union activities at the University of Abuja.
At the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Omole Ibukun (the secretary of the campus ERC branch) was recently penalized for allegedly criticizing the University’s anti-poor policies on facebook. His eportal page was deactivated rendering him incapable of registering his courses online. It took widespread criticism of the Management’s actions and the threat of protest and lecture boycott for the authorities to agree to open his eportal page early in the week. Also in the same institution, Olawale Ogunruku has been under victimization for years now while at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Adeyeye Femi, a student activist and 11 leaders of the University of Lagos Students Union (ULSU) have been rusticated for their roles in the students’ protest in April against poor welfare conditions.
We in Education Rights Campaign, FCT, Abuja Chapter strongly condemn these despotic violation of human rights being perpetrated by the management of these institutions. We demand the immediate reinstatement of the rusticated student’s activists and unconditional withdrawal of the trumped up charges and also we call on the authorities of the University of Abuja to immediately lift the ban on the students union.
In the final analysis, these actions are meant to cow students and scare them from campaigning for better funding of education and provision of adequate facilities for learning. We therefore call on the entire human rights community, Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU), other staff unions on campuses, the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and the Nigerian students in general to intervene and call for an end to these attacks on democratic rights and baseless accusations routinely formed against students’ activists, for they are attempts to weaken the strength of the students movement.
ERC FCT, ABUJA Chapter