STRUGGLE FOR EDUCATION, JOBS AND SOCIALISM
STRUGGLE FOR EDUCATION, JOBS AND SOCIALISM
Report of the DSM Students’ wing meeting and socialist school
The first weekend of October saw a well attending meeting of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) students’ wing take place at the University of Ibadan (UI). The meeting saw 42 comrades from 10 branches discuss and debate some of the key issues currently facing both students and working people as the country is gripped by an ongoing crisis.
First Day (Saturday 1st October 2016)
The first session on Saturday started with a lead-off given by Comrade Isaac from UI on the topic: ‘Struggle for Education, Jobs and Socialism’. A lucid explanation was made on the problems facing the education sector. He identified the poor funding of the education as one of the major problems facing the sector. The education sector has been consistently underfunded by successive capitalist governments. In fact, the present APC-led administration allocated to the sector a paltry 8%. It was generally agreed that underfunding of the education sector is a major problem affecting the quality of education and accessibility. Aside the poor funding of the sector, comrades also identified the embarrassing corrupt practices of administrators of tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
It was further pointed out that despite the hardship faced by Nigerian students, the society, due to the rottenness of the capitalist system, has no plan for them in terms of provision of gainful employment. Governments at all levels are not helping the situation but are rather advancing the gospel of vocation and entrepreneurship for Nigerians to accept. Today, the unemployment situation is bad for all age grades but, at 54%, it is worse for the youth in particular. Over a million jobs were lost in the economy between January and August meaning that the prospect of new graduates of higher institutions getting jobs is dimmer. There is the urgent need to develop a mass campaign, led by the trade unions, for decent jobs for all and payment of benefits to those unable to find employment for a length of time.
The discussion also touched the area of victimization of student activists. It was clearly stated that the current wave of victimization of student activists is not unprecedented, and students in their course of liberating themselves would always be faced with every form of attempt to clamp down on their agitations through brutal means like suspension, proscription of Unions, repression of protesters etc. and that only a mass fight back can save students from such horrible situation.
It was vividly stated by comrades that our struggle goes beyond the fight for a better education system. Our aspiration for a free and quality education can only be attained under a democratic socialist system in which the commanding heights of the economy will be placed under public ownership and democratic control and management of the working people, which is the reason why we must continue to campaign for a socialist change.
This, however, should not stop socialists from supporting the struggle for concessions, no matter how small it might be. Indeed socialists must play frontline roles in all struggles breaking out in the education sector and outside of it. Participating in struggles against fee hike, victimization, for improved funding etc, even though these are unachievable on a long term basis under capitalism is vital for socialists to be able to connect with the current level of consciousness in the movement with a view to raising the understanding of the mass to the need to fight to overthrow capitalism. Comrades stressed the need for a socialist change and the duty of comrades to continue to enlighten and organize the workers for the revolution.
The second session of the socialist school centered on the core idea of Marxism. The title of the discussion was ‘The relevance of Marxism in the 21st century’. This is important topic was led by Comrade Kola Ibrahim. He highlighted the relevance of Marxism in this century, while giving the leadoff. The difference between Marxists and marxiologists was drawn, as Marxists use dialectics in their day-to-day struggle. Marxism is derived from the struggle of the working class based on scientific analyses. The need for comrades to distinguish between the variant strands and tendencies within the workers’ and socialist movements was discussed.
Comrades reiterated the correctness of the formation of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN), which was formed to show a striking example in the face of the refusal of labour leadership to form a genuine mass workers’ party. Various other issues relating to Marxism were also discussed.
Second Day (2nd October 2016)
Sunday’s first session was moderated by comrade Julius from UNILAG with comrade HT Soweto as the lead speaker on; “Students work: Perspective and tactics.” Comrade Soweto in his lead-off emphasized the purpose of this discussion which was to analyze the state of the organization, roles that we need to be playing in the coming period given challenges we are facing organizationally.
An organization like the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) is a pro-student and working class organization and therefore we must always link our activities with workers’ union on campuses where we have branches, by taking our Socialist Democracy (SD) newspaper and other materials to them. With this we can engage them in discussions, learn from their experiences and participate actively in their activities be it symposium, protest, congresses through this we can have a robust working relationship with workers and win them over to socialist idea.
Given the attacks on workers and students in this period, there is need to deepen our intervention. This could help draw workers and students closer to the conclusion that it only through a socialist revolution that will be led by the working people that there can be a change in this society. Therefore, the need to deepen our campaigns among the ranks of workers and students cannot be over emphasized.
It is also important to extent our works to surrounding communities as a way to build community organizations especially in organizing the unorganized unemployed forces in the society and the underemployed persons in our society.
The collapse and degeneracy of NANS coupled with weakened nature of the students’ unions existing in our campus these days, has hindered activities of students to collectively defend their rights which as further created the need for the ERC to deepen its campaign among students with a view to build a mass movement that can take up the campaign against neo-liberal attacks on students. Essentially, we are faced with a dual task: that of building the forces of socialism and also initiating campaigns and struggles given the inability of the official leaderships of students unions and NANS to do so.
The ERC was formed in 2004 as a campaign front of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) to make connections with the best in the students’ movement who are willing to fight against neo-liberal education attacks. By using the ERC to initiate and lead mass campaigns, we also are positioned to bring socialist consciousness into the movement and draw as many as possible to the conclusion of a socialist alternative. This is the content of our tactics and approach in the students’ movement over the last decade or more.
He then said the potential of building ERC further, especially in the period of mass struggle beckoning, has not been fully exhausted. Therefore it was necessary that DSM comrades, like those in OAU, should be more involved in intervening both with ERC and DSM with a view of winning and recruiting change seeking elements to socialist ideas.
Comrade HT Soweto summed-up by saying this period places before us an enormous opportunity to increase our work in the SPN, CDWR, ERC and DSM which means comrades should begin to play more active role in building the organization.
Sunday’s second session saw a serious discussion on the state of the organization, moderated by comrade Habibat and the lead-off taken by comrade Michael.
Comrade Michael pointed out that the attacks on the education sector is growing in strength compared to what we have been witnessing before coupled with initial huge illusion of the people in Buhari which is gradually withering away as a result of the attacks on the living conditions of the mass majority of Nigerians.
Flowing from this there is a need to deepen the campaign against all capitalist attacks and as well to intensify our effort in building our local branches and to step up the ideological and political development of comrades in our branches.
In this period neo-liberal attack will be intensified as confirmed by the intention of the government to sell off national assets which means the imposition of deregulation, liberalization, commercialization, privatization etc. This will further make life more difficult for the Nigeria people given the example of education attack in UNILAG and LAUTECH.
On the question of recruitment; there is a need to initiate and improve our activities that could help us reach out to new layers with ideas and alternative. Also important is the need to engage new recruits ideologically and politically as well as to expose them to the methods of the organization. Comrade Michael suggested that cadres of the organization should pay regular visitation to our branches.
Ten branches from the Southwest part of the country only attended the 2-day meeting due to finance. DSM branches and comrades in the north are being encouraged to organize similar meetings before the end of the year.
Overall, this 2-day DSM students’ wing meeting and socialist school was an immense success and very inspiring. The meeting, dominated by young people fervently discussing socialist ideas and methods, also showed the potential of the DSM to grow in the coming period. 45 student comrades, plus some worker comrades from the Ibadan community branch of the DSM, attended the second day of the meeting which dragged into very late in the evening. A student from Ekiti State who saw the notice of the meeting on social media and promptly travelled all by himself to attend went back soaked with inspiration and with a promise to be at the DSM National Committee (NC) meeting in Lagos later in October.