A CITADEL OF ATTACK ON DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS!
SCHOOL OF HYGIENE, IBADAN:
A CITADEL OF ATTACK ON DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS!
By Abbey Trotsky
Secretary, DSM Oyo State Chapter
On the 5th of December 2012, members of Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) in the School of Hygiene, Eleyele, Ibadan, were denied their democratic right of holding a public symposium by the management of the institution.
This symposium was organized to raise the political orientation of education workers, students, youths towards a struggle against attacks on education and working conditions of staff as well for building a better society where human and natural resources of the society will be used for the benefit of all. It was also to be the first public program of the branch which was set up just recently.
We condemn this undemocratic action of the School management and demand an immediate withdrawal of all query letters issued to our members in the institution in connection with their involvement in the democratic activities of our organization.
The School of Hygiene, which is a subsidiary of Oyo State Ministry of Health, like most tertiary institutions across the country lacks conditions conducive for quality living and learning. In fact in some cases, situation of things in this school is far worse!
Take for instance; every nook and cranny on this campus, most especially the halls of residence, depicts a very disgraceful and deplorable state. Toilets are an eyesore, the drainages are blocked, and water, when it occasionally comes, is usually unsafe for consumption. This terrible condition explains why students are always exposed to water-borne diseases and illness and thus adversely affect their academic performance. Yet under this horrible condition, the school management still forces poor students to pay huge amount of money as fees.
For students in first years the school fees range from N75, 000 to N86, 000. This is aside other money expended on buying handout and manual. Fees for other levels depending on department also range from N65, 000 to N78, 000. Having these kinds of extremely outrageous fees being imposed on students from working class backgrounds is another graphic reflection of the anti-poor disposition of the acclaimed progressive ACN-led administration in the state which owns the school.
Despite this ugly situation, the Students Union of the institution has a leadership that lacks the capacity needed to fight against these attacks on the living and working condition of the students. However, this is not accidental, given the undemocratic process through which the union leadership always emerges. Instead of the student union leadership emerging through a participatory students’ election, only a few students selected by the HOD of various departments are usually allowed to participate in the election. This explains why this students” union leadership has not been able to act in the interests of students but always as a tool of in the hands of the School management.
This therefore also explain why the School management stopped at nothing to prevent the DSM symposium from holding, especially when it was quite apparent that such event was capable of having a considerable and significant influence on the political consciousness of students who had been groaning under various forms of attacks from the management.
It is important to state that the conscious effort of the School management to frustrate the activities of DSM on the campus did not start with the denial of holding the symposium. At first, there were series of unsuccessful attempts by the management to discourage and intimidate some DSM members in the School to resign their membership of the organization. This was done by given the organization all kinds of bad names.
Having refuted some of the management’s falsehood and mudslinging through a public statement issued and massively posted on the campus where we clearly stated the aims and objectives, the management still went ahead to serve some our members letters of query where they were asked to explain why disciplinary measures should not be taken against them for their association with the DSM.
Given the fact that the issuance of the query letter contravenes the provision in the chapter IV of 1999 Constitution that allows Nigerians the democratic right of freedom of association and assembly, the state leadership of DSM therefore had a special meeting with the provost of the School where the attempt by the School management to infringe on the democratic rights of our members who were given the query was discussed.
During this discussion, the provost argued that being an appointee of the pro-capitalist government in the state, she is unconvinced of allowing the activities of DSM in the School as this is capable of transforming the political atmosphere on the campus. However, having acknowledged DSM as a consistent and genuine defender of the workers and poor, the provost declared that one of her roles as dictated by the ACN-led government is to ensure that peace and order is enforced in the School. In reality, this “peace and order” means the ability of the school management and the state government to impose fees and attack the rights of students and workers without a resistance!
It can therefore be understood that the position of provost in the institution is a coercive instrument of the state government to continue to maintain the prevailing terrible state of living and working condition of the poor students.
The DSM will be undeterred by this undemocratic attempt to prevent students from organising fight-back against anti-poor education policies. We intend to continue to organize around the few students who have joined us while also reaching out to other students and workers who are enthusiastic about our socialist ideas of change.
As the attacks on public education intensify the mass of students and workers will see the need to fight back and equally make effort to rebuild their unions into a fighting platform of struggle.
In the education sector the DSM fights for free, public-funded and democratically managed education and defends the democratic rights of workers and students. We support the struggles for adequate funding of education, democratization of the control and management of schools through involvement of elected representatives of staff and students in decision making organs, and for better remuneration and working condition for education workers. We also argue for the building of a united movement of education workers, students and trade unions to fight for these demands and link with the overall struggle of workers and youths against the anti-poor capitalist policies of privatization, deregulation and commercialization.
We believe Nigeria’s resources, if democratically managed, are enough to provide free and quality education at all levels and other basic needs such as health care, housing, potable water, electricity, good roads, etc. The only obstacle to this is the system of capitalism which places the profit of a few over the needs of the majority. This is why fight ultimately for the enthronement of socialism. Only a socialist plan of Nigeria’s economy and the democratic control and management of the commanding heights of the economy by the working people themselves can, on a lasting basis, guarantee adequately funded, democratically-managed, free, functional and quality public education and other basic needs.