EDUCATION RIGHTS CAMPAIGN (ERC)
EDUCATION RIGHTS CAMPAIGN (ERC)
AS THE NATION CELEBRATES 49 YEARS OF FAILURE
We Declare a Vote of No Confidence on Yar’ Adua Government
ERC protests 1 October
Govt Should Immediately Meet ASUU, SSANU, NASU & NAAT Demands
Today October 1st 2009, the corrupt Yar’ Adua anti-poor govt will launch into an orgy of fanfare in celebration of 49 years of Nigeria’s independence. As usual, it will be an occasion for the anti-poor Yar’Adua government – a government that cannot point to any achievement since it came to power in 2007 â€“ to assure traumatized Nigerian working people, students and youths of the so-called magical formulas of its 7-pointless agenda.
They will be celebrating without regard for the fate of students, youths and parents who have been suffering for over 3 months since public universities have been shut down on account of government reluctance to meet the demands of ASUU, SSANU, NASU and NAAT who are on strike to press home demands for adequate funding of education.
We dare to ask: what has the nation achieved since independence to justify any celebration? What does a nation with no electricity, education, health care, pipe borne water and with a perpetually hungry, poor, jobless and homeless population celebrate in its independence? What does a nation whose leaders travel abroad to treat minor ailments such as headache and send their children to private schools abroad celebrate?
Today, Nigeria is a classical example of a failed state. If we dare look back, we will realize that given the enormous resources that Nigeria is richly endowed with and the sordid picture of mass poverty and destitution that prevail at the same time, it is not out of place, though unfortunate, to conclude that Nigeria was better off 49 years ago.
Thirty years ago, students had subsidized meals at University Cafeteria, hostel accommodation was conducive with pillow cases, mattresses, blankets given free.Today most Nigerians do not have access to education due to outrageous fees and extremely limited facilities, let alone subsidized meals.
It is hard for us to reel out the entire list of hardships Nigerian students go through in the education sector today. The best to say is that there is no more public education in Nigeria. Successive education policies has been privatization, commercialization and under-funding, all of which have destroyed public education and turned it to the preserve of the rich few. Today, outrageous fees are being charged in schools beyond the means of poor working class parents.
Now, government wants to increase tuition to N180, 000! Yet despite all these charges, infrastructures like libraries, laboratories, class rooms and other basic amenities are missing or decrepit in all the schools in Nigeria while working condition and remunerations of staff are alarmingly poor. This is why quality of graduates has fallen. This is why no Nigerian University is ranked in the first 50 in Africa and 6000 in the world. This is also the basis for the strike actions embarked upon by ASUU, SSANU, NASU, NAAT and NUT.
Indeed, 49 years of Nigeria’s independence is an unbroken thread of mass misery and poverty for the working masses, students and youths.
Against the above background, we regard the Independence Day festivities as a cynical celebration of the poverty and destitution which the mass of people have been consigned to on account of government’s anti-poor policies. We reject the neo-liberal economic policies of deregulation, privatization and commercialization of the Yar’ Adua govt as anti-poor and pro-rich. We declare Yar’ Adua’s 7-point agenda as 7-pointless agenda meant to deepen poverty and misery of the Nigerian working masses, youths and students.
We believe that with a radically different government and pro-poor economic system, free education, free health care and provision of other basic amenities for all are possible especially if Nigeria’s resources are democratically managed by the working people themselves unlike the current situation where the public treasury is looted by the capitalist ruling class.
We believe a government that does not care for public education has no reason to remain in power a day longer. More than any other thing, govt treatment of the demands of the striking unions shows that the struggle for adequate funding of education can only be waged in a revolutionary manner.
We therefore call for the revolutionary overthrow of the corrupt and anti-poor Yar’ Adua capitalist government and the formation of a workers and poor peoples’ government that will, through public ownership of the commanding heights of the economy under democratic workers control, use our collective resources to provide free education, health care etc. We urge labour leaders to hasten the process of the overthrow of this corrupt govt by building a mass based, working people’s political party that can form a govt committed to peoples’ welfare. At the same time too, NLC, TUC and LASCO must immediately declare a one-day solidarity general strike in support of the strike actions of ASUU, SSANU, NASU and NAAT.
This nationwide mass action and demonstration taking place today October 1st across the Nation is a vote of no confidence on the Yar’ Adua anti-poor govt. We are resolved to continue this protest until all demands are won. All Nigerian students and youths must remain on alert because once The National Assembly resumes from recess, we shall massively march to the Assembly to further press home the following demands.
- For the federal government to sign and implement all agreements reached with ASUU, SSANU, NASU and NAAT for students to resume.
- No to proposed N180, 000 fee increment. Cancel all fees including the exorbitant law school fees.
- For the Federal govt to Pay N40, 000 Cost of Studying Allowance (COSA) to all Nigerian students.
- Funding of education up to 26% of budget .
- Provision of free, functional and compulsory education at all levels.
- Democratization of the education sector with the involvement of representatives of staff and students unions in all decision making organs .
- Recall of all victimized students/staff activists and restoration of all banned unions.
- Public ownership of the commanding heights of the economy under democratic control and management of the working masses.