*DSM and ERC members shall remain undaunted in the struggle for proper funding of education and independent and virile student unionism
The attention of members of Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) and Education Rights Campaign (ERC) University of Ibadan (UI) branch, have been drawn to the nomination of Comrade Isaac Ogunjimi, the Secretary of DSM/ERC-UI for the award of the best students activist of the year by Mr. Nifemi- led students’ union administration.
We believe that comrade Isaac’s nomination for this award is not unconnected with his radical opinion, activities and single-minded devotion towards the struggle for the defense of the welfare interests of the University of Ibadan students and staff as well as for improved funding of education and virile and independent students unionism.
While the goal of DSM and ERC members in struggle is not to win awards or laurels but to seek ways to strengthen the struggle of students, workers and all oppressed people in order to win victory, nevertheless we cannot but be happy when our work and activities are recognized.
We are therefore glad that the students union leadership considers our comrade worthy of this award. We urge all students who are inspired by our work and the example of radical and uncompromising struggle epitomized by comrade Isaac Ogunjimi to join us so that together we can advance the struggle of students and the working people to salvage public education and change society.
As a radical student activist and a Socialist, comrade Isaac Ogunjimi has been active in and outside of University of Ibadan in various campaigns and struggles to defend the rights of the working people including students and youth. Comrade Isaac believes that Nigeria is endowed with vast human and material resources which if democratically and judiciously managed is enough to end poverty and misery, provide free education and develop society. The only reason why Nigeria is locked in a crisis of mass poverty despite the potentials it is endowed with is because of capitalism which ensures that only a few people can benefit from the wealth. The on-going economic recession further demonstrates that capitalism is not working and a democratic socialist alternative is urgently needed to rescue Nigeria.
Again we are grateful that the Mr. Nifemi-led Union leadership recognizes the value of our comrade’s principled stand on all issues that concerns students’ interests to nominate him for this award. However while thanking the Students Union leadership for this nomination, we must say that it would be better in view of the overall interests of all students if the Mr. Nifemi Students Union leadership goes a bit further to consider some of the important criticisms, proposals and recommendations on how best the union can effectively defend the welfare interests of students that the DSM and ERC as well as comrade Isaac have offered over the months in several public statements and releases. Otherwise there is a danger that a few people might be led to believe that the entire motive behind the nomination is to dubiously distract and divert the attention of mass of students on campus from many of the salient and fundamental issues like poor welfare conditions and political victimization of student leaders and activists under which mass of student on campus currently groan.
For months, the DSM and ERC have been campaigning against the continuous refusal and failure of Mr. Nifemi- led students union administration to yield to its historical responsibility of adequate defense of the collective aspiration and interest of mass of student on campus. This continuous abdication of these responsibilities which is also constitutional largely forms the background to why the living and learning condition of mass of students on campus continue to sink from bad to worse. Take for instance, hostel facilities continue to be in more a rickety condition, with poor and erratic supply of water and power across halls of residence. Female students continue to be victims of intimidation and harassment from over-zealous porters while they also continue to fall victims of rape and theft along Tech and Awo/ stadium road owing to poor lightening and illumination of the said roads. Our union continues to lack its independence as the union buildings and most properties are managed by the students’ affairs division of the university.
The most disheartening is that in the midst these ugly situations, Mr Nifemi-led student union has continued to decline the implementation of various suggestions and proposal from reputable organizations like DSM/ERC even the Student Representative Council, SRC that his leadership must call a congress of mass of student in the university so as to create a democratic avenue for students to exercise their potential and participate in a discussion and debate over various issues that affect them on campus. This is with a view to come-up with a non-violent and practical way to proffer solutions to them.
If Mr. Nifemi led Students Union leadership valued comrade Isaac’s contribution to students unionism to nominate for the award of the best student activist of the year, then there is no justifiable reason why the same union leadership should not listen to the important suggestions that have emanated from comrade Isaac and other activists on campus about how best to defend students interests.
Therefore while accepting this nomination, we challenge the Mr. Nifemi-led union leadership to stop undermining the radical image and prestige of our collective union and to heed the popular call for a congress so that students can have a chance to discuss how to defend their interests. As for us in DSM we remain undaunted in the struggle for proper funding of education and independent students unionism. Again our relationship with any union leadership can only be guaranteed on the basis of agreement on the following programmes and agenda:
(1) Support to regular and well mobilized congress of the students’ union to allow generality of students to participate in discussion and debate over issues that affect them.
(2) Principled opposition to any case of victimization of students and undue issuance of letter to students to face Student Disciplinary Council (SDC).
(3) Principled opposition to the act of using union money by some few students’ union leaders to enrich themselves. Spending of over N15 million to organize union week is wastage of collective resources.
(4) Support for a struggle for a mass- based campaign for immediate renovation of all halls of residence and improvement in welfare condition of mass of students on campus.
(5) Principled opposition to the proposal to force Assistant Hall wardens as the principal signatories to student account in halls of residence
(6) Principled opposition to the aberration whereby DR (Students’ affairs) continue to be imposed as the Chairman of students’ union electoral committee. Students have rights to independently conduct union elections by themselves.
Secretary, DSM UI Branch
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