HAPPY RESUMPTION: HOLD THE ANTI-POOR BUHARI ADMINISTRATION RESPONSIBLE FOR THE WASTED 8 MONTHS!
TO PREVENT ANOTHER STRIKE, NIGERIAN STUDENTS MUST BE AT THE FOREFRONT OF THE CAMPAIGN TO FORCE THE GOVERNMENT TO FULFILL ALL AGREEMENTS WITH STAFF UNIONS
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) welcomes students of public universities back to their respective institutions after eight months of school closure due to the failure of Buhari government to meet the demands of ASUU and other staff unions.
Indeed, the eight months of school closure have had a devastating effect on the academic life of students. Authorities of Universities are now running a rushed and slim-fitted academic calendar to try and meet up the wasted time. Such a kind of approach may worsen an already bad situation. This is making students suffer more for a crisis created by the negligence and irresponsibility of the government.
In the Education Rights Campaign (ERC), we have persistently argued that the strike action was a product of the government’s lack of concern and interest in uplifting the education sector. The strike action was not only avoidable but should not have lasted. Clearly, the Buhari administration, just like previous capitalist administrations, is not interested in ensuring that citizens have access to affordable quality education. Therefore, the blame for the wasted time and the horrible state of public education must be placed at the doorstep of the Buhari administration and the entire capitalist ruling class.
Notably, on many occasions, strike actions by education workers are mostly due to the government reneging on previous agreements with unions. For instance, the agreement between ASUU and the Federal Government which led to the end of a six months strike in 2013 was only partly implemented after a paltry N5.8 Billion was injected to revitalize public universities. Also, the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement was a major point of contention in the just suspended strike action
We note that students will be meeting their schools just the same way they left it, some even in much more terrible condition. When the government and authorities of tertiary institutions had eight months to revamp facilities, they ignored and did nothing. This further shows the unwillingness of the government to uplift the education sector.
It would amount to a wrong assessment of reality to think that the ASUU strike has truly ended. What the government did was to dubiously force the striking workers to resume work using the instrument of law and other gimmicks. The resumption was partly based on empty promises too. The major issues in contention have not been attended to.
While Government has promised to inject some funds into public universities for revitalization, this is still nothing more than a promise; and for a government renowned for notoriously reneging on promises, expectations are low. Also, the demand for the replacement of IPPIS with UTAS as a payment structure for academic staff has not been implemented, while the arrears of salaries and earned allowances owed have also not been paid.
The only way to make more significant gains and sustain the gains of the struggle is for students and education workers to jointly struggle to ensure government remains committed to the demands of ASUU and other education workers. Without such a joint struggle, workers’ unions would be forced to embark on another strike or students made to pay higher school fees.
The fact is that it is largely as a result of the persistent struggle of ASUU that includes demands for proper funding that the university education is still relatively affordable for students from working class and poor families. Indeed, if there is no mass resistance, Buhari government or the next government, regardless of the party which wins, will impose tuition fees which may take university education beyond the reach of students from working class and poor backgrounds. This is one of the reasons students and students unions must be prepared to initiate or join actions that support the demands for the provision of revitalization funds for public universities and also adequate welfare and pay for lecturers and other staffs. Also importantly, students, parents, education workers and labour movement must immediately begin to voice opposition and mobilise resistance against any planned introduction of fees in public universities.
Therefore, in the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) we support the demands of ASUU and other unions, we place the blame for the ruinous state of public education on the pro-capitalist policies of the government. We demand proper funding of the education sector to begin to address the infrastructural deficit obtainable in various academic institutions.
However, aside the call for proper funding of education sector, we also call for democratic management of educational institutions to begin to put an end to the reign of corruption and impunity of authorities. By democratic management, we mean the control and management of institutions through the involvement of elected representatives of workers and students’ unions in decision-making bodies. This will mean that students and workers are key to the decision-making process of institutions, thereby making it difficult for corruption as well as implementation of anti-student and anti-worker policies to take place.
Ultimately, it will take the coming to power of a workers and poor people’s government armed with Socialist policies for proper funding of public education and its democratic management to be guaranteed on a long-term basis. This is why the ERC whilst organizing students and workers to fight against attacks on public education also links up with the labour movement and Socialist forces to campaign for the building of a mass workers party.
If you are dissatisfied with the constant disruption of academic calendar due to strikes and other disturbances and you desire a public education system properly funded and free of disruptions, join the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) today. The ERC is a platform formed by the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) to campaign against anti-poor educational policies, underfunding, fee hike and attacks on democratic rights. We are organized on campuses and our aim is to build a strong national movement that can begin to fight on all issues that affect students and staff while linking these struggles to the ultimate need for a Socialist Nigeria.