WE SUPPORT ASUU STRIKE
Education Rights Campaign (ERC) Press statement
WE SUPPORT ASUU STRIKE
Government must implement agreement
We of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) declare our support for the indefinite strike action embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) since Monday June 22, 2009, to compel the Federal government to implement agreement reached with it. We call on all Nigerian students to support this strike action and resist all government blackmails and propaganda to discredit striking lecturers.
The basis of our support for the ASUU is that the demands of ASUU are not selfish and will benefit Nigerian students if met by government. These demands include adequate funding of education, adequate remuneration of staff, genuine autonomy and democratization of the decision making organs in Universities and the recall of the remaining sacked 44 lecturers of the University of Ilorin (UNILORIN). Besides, the Federal government has been playing games with ASUU’s demands for more than 7 years now during which time several agreements have been reached with ASUU only for government to fail to implement them. It is the insincerity of the Federal government that has forced ASUU to declare an indefinite strike especially after a recent 2-weeks warning strike action was discountenanced by the Federal government.
While unarguably the current ASUU strike will bring pains to students, we urge all Nigerian students to understand that ASUU is a victim of government intransigence and the government is to be blamed for provoking this strike action. We condemn every propaganda of government to paint ASUU as the cause of the frequent disruption of the academic calendar. We urge all students and indeed parents to discountenance the subterfuge of government and instead join force with ASUU and other staff unions to compel government to fulfil its constitutional duties to education funding. We cannot continue to pretend when education in Nigeria is collapsing by the minute while basic and quality education eludes Nigerian youths.
Along with ASUU demands, the ERC calls on Nigerian students to agitate for provisions of facilities and infrastructures like adequate hostel accommodation, spacious and adequate lecture theatres, well stocked libraries and laboratories, environment conducive for quality studies and of course adequate remuneration and training of teaching and non-teaching staff to ensure quality teaching.
The implication of the current strike action coupled with the absence of enabling conditions for learning means that government has breached its social contract with students. The fact that education is not free and parents and guardian pay enormous and sometimes outrageous fees make the loss of Nigerian students immeasurable and a double jeopardy as value is not gotten for money paid for education. The current strike action as it elongates the academic calendar will put further financial burden on parents supporting their wards in the school but government is not bothered. But we warn that if government does not immediately fulfil agreement reached with ASUU as condition precedent for striking lecturers to go back to class, Nigerian students will hold government responsible for every loss incurred. We shall organise protests and demonstrations nationwide in solidarity with striking lecturers until the Federal government meets the demands.
We wish to reiterate our rejection of the meagre 7.2% allocated to education in the 2009 budget and demand its immediate increase to 26% by way of supplementary budget. We also demand N40, 000 Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) to be paid to all Nigerian students, democracy in our schools, free education, jobs for graduates, recall of all victimised activists and restoration of banned unions, freedom for 27 soldiers and withdrawal of Joint Task Force (JTF) troops from Niger Delta. We wish to state that these demands led to the nationwide protest organised by us on June 16 2009 in Lagos, Osun, Oyo, Ondo and Edo States which was widely repressed with 4 protesters arrested in Lagos and a protester shot dead in Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba Akoko with several injured and over 40 arrested as Police attacked the peaceful protest. We demand the trial of the Ondo state Commissioner of Police Mr Charles Dawodu and the DPO of Akungba Akoko Police Station Mr. Eze Mathew (who shot the dead protester) for the gruesome repression of a peaceful protest by students. We have already pointed out that June 16 is just the beginning of series of mass actions and lecture boycotts that we will organise until our demands are met.
We urge ASUU to build the strike into a mass based resistance that entails mobilising other strata of the general public to support the action. The strike must be total and fully implemented on all campuses with rallies held nationwide to build mass support for the strike. The blackmails of the Federal government against striking lecturers will not work because we Nigerian students know that teaching and non-teaching staffs are our friends while the federal, state and local governments are our enemies because they loot money meant to fund education and other vital social services.