Monday 23 January 2017


Press Statement

The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) demands upward review of the proposed allocation to the education sector in the 2017 appropriation bill. The bill which was presented to the joint session of the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday 14 December 2016 contains a proposed allocation of a paltry 6 percent to the education sector.

According to the bill, a total of N540.01 billion will be spent on education in 2017 with N398.01 of this sum going for recurrent and N142 billion for capital (Vanguard newspaper, 22 December 2016). For a federal education budget that is meant to cater for 36 federal universities, 25 federal polytechnics, 22 federal colleges of education, 104 federal unity schools and many federal monotechnics , this allocation is too low and incapable of meeting the needs of the sector.

Already the federal government is in deficit to the tune of N800 billion on the NEEDS assessment intervention funds to revitalize public universities and over N60 billion Earned Academic Allowances to lecturers. This is aside debts owed non-teaching staffs in the federal universities, staffs of federal polytechnics and colleges of education as well as teachers in the 104 unity schools aside numerous collective agreements awaiting implementation.

Therefore, given the enormity of the crisis bedeviling the sector, a responsible government would commit massive funds to revitalize the education sector. Regrettably, it appears that the Buhari government is as clueless and irresponsible as the Jonathan/PDP government it replaced. At this stage, we must sound a note of warning to members of the National Assembly that they will be failing Nigerians if they choose to pass this appropriation bill without increasing the allocation to education. We therefore urge the members of the National Assembly to increase the budgetary allocation to education in the appropriation bill to at least 26 percent of the total budget as recommended by UNESCO.

Without mincing words, the education component of the 2017 appropriation bill is a letdown in many ways. First and foremost, it shows that just like past government, the Buhari government is neither concerned nor serious about addressing the crises bedeviling the sector. Secondly, it shows that all the lofty promises made on the campaign trail by President Buhari and the APC were mere hot air. 

Today, Nigerian students are studying in primitive conditions not compatible with the requirements of 21st century education. Many universities, polytechnics colleges of education and monotechnics lack the most basic facilities and materials for quality learning. Laboratories where they exist are decrepit with kerosene stoves being used as Bunsen burners. Classes are often overcrowded and held in ramshackle structures converted to lecture rooms. Most libraries are denuded of relevant materials and books. Recent warning strikes by ASUU in December last year and SSANU, NASU and NAAT in January 2017 are indications of what is to come. If the allocation to education in the 2017 budget is not increased as demanded, the result will be chaos and disruption of academic calendar as different workers unions embark on strikes to press home long-term demands on salary, allowances and working conditions. This is why the ERC is calling on the Federal government to increase the budgetary allocation  to education in the 2017 appropriation bill.

We are not unmindful that the country is in an economic recession. We are equally aware that several apologists of the federal government are always quick to use the economic recession to justify every anti-poor policies of this government including the paltry allocation to the education sector. But outside of the fact that this argument is at best specious and hypocritical, we are of the opinion that it will amount to gross irresponsibility on the part of the government to sacrifice public education under the guise of bailing out the economy out of recession. This will in no way help to surmount the economic quagmire but further deepen it. In actual fact, investments in public education, job creation, increase in the minimum wage and a plan to redirect the economy from profit to meeting people’s needs are the antidote to the economic crisis. Therefore, if the Federal Government is so much sincere to rescue the economy from recession, the salaries and allowances of political office holders, which is very outrageous, must be reduced to a level not higher than the national minimum wage and wastages like foreign trips, exotic vehicles and numerous others which are provided for in the proposed budget must be eliminated. The excess funds derived should be ploughed into funding public education, health care and other social services.

While calling for proper funding of education, the ERC equally deem it imperative to also call for democratic management of schools to ensure that the funds are not looted or mismanaged. Otherwise an increase in the education budget will only end up enriching Vice Chancellors, Rectors and Provosts. There is already too much corruption in the education sector.  The spate of allegations against head of tertiary institutions bear this out. Only democratic management of schools through the involvement of elected representatives of staff unions and students unions in decision making organs can stem this tide of corruption and ensure that funds allocated to the education sector are judiciously spent..


Hassan Taiwo Soweto                                                        Ibukun Omole                               
National Coordinator (07033697259)                               National Secretary

Thursday 19 January 2017

ERC Solidarizes with US Students’ Walkout on Trump Inauguration Day

Press Statement

The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) declares solidarity for the United States (US) national students’ walkout, otherwise known as lecture boycott by the students movement here in Nigeria, to protest US president-elect Donald Trump’s racist, misogynist and vicious capitalist agenda for America. The walkout is taking place on Friday 20 January 2017 as a part of series of mass activities to inaugurate the resistance to Trump.

The walkout, which will see thousands of high school and college students in the United States abandon classes was initiated by the Socialist Students – the sister organization of the ERC in the US. Just as the ERC is the students and youth campaign of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), Socialist Student is the campaign of the Socialist Alternative (SA). Both SA and DSM are respectively co-thinkers and affiliate of the Committee for a Workers International (CWI).

We are in full agreement with our comrades in the Socialist Alternative and Socialist Students who have described the election of Donald Trump as a disaster.  This by no means translates that a Hillary Clinton victory would have brought any fundamental relief to working class Americans. Hillary, as Bernie Sanders correctly described her, is a servant of Wall Street and she remains so. Both Hillary and Trump were the most unpopular presidential candidates ever. This is why together with organizing mass resistance to Trump, the Socialist Alternative and Socialist Students are equally campaigning for a new political party opposed to the two parties of Wall Street – Democrats and Republicans – and devoted to standing up for the 99%.

No doubt a Trump presidency, despite his demagogic promises to provide well paid jobs, will have many negative consequences for the working masses and youth in the US and also globally. Trump has threatened to deport 2-3 million immigrants and to target Muslim immigrants for “extreme vetting.” Women’s reproductive health, democratic rights, and workers rights are all under threat. This is a big concern to many around the world especially here in Africa.

Hundreds of thousands of young people from Nigeria and Africa are in the United States for education and a brighter future. Many migrated to escape the horrors of poverty, wars and persecution back home. This is aside many professionals and working class people from Nigeria who are earning honest living by working in different sectors of the US economy and are sending the proceeds of their labour back home to feed families and dependants who are caught in the cycle of poverty here in Nigeria. All of these people are potential victims if Trump’s racist and vicious far-right capitalist agenda are allowed to succeed. This is why mass resistance must be built now within the US and internationally to resist his policies and unite against division.

Above all, Trump has a clear capitalist agenda which will see the condition of extreme inequality worsen in the United States and globally while the fat-cat bankers continue to corner enormous profits while getting tax breaks. This will be combined with a warmongering foreign policy that will raise tension and the spectre of armed conflicts around the world. All his rhetoric about standing up to China and opposing free trade are merely to protect the profit interests of US multinationals and manufacturing companies and not necessarily to protect jobs. It is becoming clear that Trump does not and will not speak for average working class Americans. His cabinet is already looking set to be the richest, being dominated as it is, by billionaires. No doubt, those who expect Trump to make “America great again” will be resoundingly disappointed.

Trump’s capture of the Republican nomination was a distorted reflection of the widespread opposition to the billionaire class, opposition that was also shown in the huge support Bernie Sanders received for his call for a “political revolution” against the billionaires. Before he’s been sworn in Trump’s approval rating is under 40%, while 48% of Americans see him negatively. In the election Trump was not the most popular candidate, Clinton won over 2.8 million more votes. All this shows the potential for building not just resistance but also a real alternative. 

At this crucial time, solidarity and unity among working people and youth is vital to resist Trump and start a movement to build a party of working people and a socialist future.


Hassan Taiwo Soweto                                                                      Ibukun Omole                               
National Coordinator (07033697259)                                       National Secretary

Monday 16 January 2017


We Support the Strike and Call on Government to avoid further disruption of academic calendar by meeting all demands

Press statement

The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) fully supports the decision of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Non Academic Staff Union (NASU) and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NASU) to embark on a 5-day warning strike from Monday 16 January 2017 to compel the federal government to fully implement the tenets of the 2009 FGN/ Non Teaching Staff Union agreement.

We call on the Buhari government to immediately meet the demands of the unions in order to stem this dangerous cycle of incessant closure of campuses and disruption of academic calendar which have become permanent features of public education under this government.

We believe that given the sordid conditions on campuses today characterized by low funding and inadequate teaching facilities, students, parents and the general public as a matter of necessity must support all struggles of the staff unions to challenge government to fulfill its social responsibilities. This is why we call for solidarity actions to back the struggle of these striking unions and demonstrate that the struggle to salvage public education is one that unites students, staff and the working class.

We also call on the striking unions in particular not to make this warning strike a mere sit-at-home action. As the ERC has pointed out repeatedly, a common mistake of past struggles waged by unions in the education sector as well as the wider labour movement is to mis-interpret the role of a warning strike thus mismanaging the potential that this kind of action has in detonating a bigger movement that can win concessions. To be clear, a warning strike is an action that presupposes the possibility of a bigger and longer action (s) in future especially if government remains intransigent. Therefore, a warning strike is a preparatory action whose essential purpose is to signal to the government that the workers are ready to fight but more importantly to prepare the fighting forces, educate them and mobilize them for the bigger struggles impending.

Therefore it is our view that this 5-day warning strike can only be adjudged successful if side by side with workers effectively withdrawing their services, public programs like congresses, mass meetings, symposium, rallies, media campaign and leafleting are organized. This kind of public activities will allow the unions to take their case to the students and the general public thus exposing government insincerity with a view to securing the support of the critical mass of the students and the working people which would prove useful if at some time later the unions are forced by continuous government intransigence to embark on indefinite strikes or actions of similar nature.

No doubt, the decision of the non-teaching staff unions to begin another warning strike, just about two months after the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) also shut down the public Universities, is a sad reminder that nothing has changed for the better in the education sector since the Buhari government came nearly two years ago. Rather in many ways, a lot has gone from bad to worse at primary, secondary and tertiary tiers of public education. Nearly two years after, there is no known plan or roadmap by the Buhari government to address the rot in the system. In many ways, it seems the ministry of education and the associated agencies are on auto pilot given recent controversies surrounding qualifications for admission into tertiary institutions.

Not only does the 2017 appropriation bill contain one of the lowest allocations to education in recent times, there have been too many closures of Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education over the past 19 months. Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) which has been shut for 8 months easily comes to mind. So do the University of Lagos, Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA), University of Portharcourt (UNIPORT), Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba Akoko (AAUA) and others.

In addition, intolerance and readiness to suspend and expel students’ activists or sack workers leaders are on the rise. So also is the penchant to use security operatives to harass students and workers leaders. It will not amount to gainsaying to reach the conclusion that in the last 19 months of Buhari administration, respect for democratic and human rights has remained under a serious threat in tertiary institutions.

On the whole, the Buhari/APC administration, just like the Jonathan/PDP administration before it, sees public education as a business instead of a social responsibility to the people. This is why anti-poor policies of education underfunding, privatization, commercialization and hike in fees which were the ruinous policies of past regimes have been preserved and are now being implemented with gusto by the Buhari administration.

More than ever before, there is urgent necessity for staff unions and students unions as well as campaigning groups like the ERC to unite to build a strong and powerful mass movement that can begin to resist, through strikes and joint mass protests/demonstrations, the anti-poor education policies of the Buhari government while fighting for improved funding, democratic management, respect of democratic rights and implementation of agreements with staff unions.

Hassan Taiwo Soweto                                                                      Ibukun Omole                          
National Coordinator (07033697259)                                       National Secretary