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For struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

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But mass action needed to enforce court decision

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Socialist Democracy Nov - Dec 2002.rtf

 


 

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Socialist Democracy Nov - Dec 2002

Political Violence, Election Rigging ...

Only The Masses Can Save Civil Rule

 

OAU STUDENTS TO FIGHT FEE INCREMENT

The authorities of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife have perfected plans to increase school fees come next session. The proposed charges are N4,500 for returning under-graduates and N 9,500 for fresh students. This is about 900% increment. The returning undergraduates paid N590, while fresh students N1,140 last session. The charges include accommodation and various charges for registration, including what the authorities call "admission acceptance fee".

The students and the students' union have vowed to vehemently resist such unjustified, obnoxious, anti-poor, pro-rich increment. This is because several students will be forced to drop out of school as a result of their inability to pay these hiked fees, thereby making education the exclusive right of the privilege rich few. And this will invariably add to the problems of shortage of skilled labour, underdevelopment, crimes and destitution plaguing the country.

The university authorities say the increment has become inevitable due to under-funding of the university by the government. It is a true that the education sector, like most social sectors like health, housing, etc, is grossly under-funded.

This problem has become aggravated as a result of the neo-liberal capitalist policies of the ruling class e.g. privatisation, commercialisation, deregulation, cuts in social spendings and all other neo-liberal polices which had been implemented by successive administrations and has been continued by the present Obasanjo government. For instance, a meager 5.4% of this year's annual budget is allocated to the educational sector. This is even below the UNESCO recommendation that each government should allocate at least 26% of her annual budget to education. The solution to this problem, however, is for students and the labour movement, to fight for increased and adequate funding.

Also, the problem is compounded by misplaced priorities and mismanagement of funds by school managements. For instance, the OAU authorities recently bought 4 Peugeot 406 saloon cars, which amounts to N17m from the meager resources of the university. Equally, sources available to us revealed that 14 Peugeot 505 cars have been ordered for the 14 deans of our 14 faculties at the rate of N4m each which totals to N56m. Whereas the university authorities claimed to have spent N19m last session to renovate the halls of residence with very little to show for it. Out of the N15m anti-cultism grant given to all university in Nigeria just after the July 10 1999 incident on our campus, the only thing visible from such grant on our campus is the billboard placed in 3 locations on our campus. During the Ife-Modakeke fratricidal war, the government gave the university N100m for the building of a hostel; up till date, none has been built neither are we aware of what has become of the money.

We demand total reversal of the proposed hike in fees. To adequately fund education and other social services, the labour and youth movement must demand common ownership of the key sectors of the economy and the country's resources which are presently owned and monopolised by multi-national corporations and their local capitalist agents. We must also fight for democratic management of all educational institutions with elected representatives of all interest groups within the sector, including student and staff unions in all decision-making organs. This is the only solution to the crisis facing the education sector.

REINSTATE THE AKUNGBA 19

The spate of state attack on the educational sector and students has unfortunately continued unabated like during the military despotic era.

Among the latest cases is Adekunle Ajasin University (AAU), Akungba Akoko, an Ondo State Government owned university, where axe has been dangled on ten (10) students union executives and nine (9) other student activists for leading a peaceful protest against the appalling state of infrastructure on campus. Eighteen of the students were rusticated for two semesters and one diploma student expelled.

The students had embarked on a peaceful protest in April, 2002 to demand for improvement of infrastructures on campus through the provision of standard lecture rooms (as against the classrooms meant for over 7,000 students), a modern library (as against an eye sour room that cannot contain more than fifty students called library), adequate offices for lecturers (as against an embarrassing situation where 8-9 lecturers stay in one common room), toilet and recreational facilities (as against the present practise of students even lecturers going to the bush to ease themselves) and accommodation and telecommunication, amidst many other demands.

This protest led to the closure of the institution by Governor Adefarati for almost six months. Some of the demands are now being minimally and gradually met, but those who fought for these improved facilities have been made sacrificial lambs.

Also, the authorities have continued to attack students through impositions of N1,000 and N5,000 reparation fee on all the students and the rusticated one respectively, increment in school fees (arrears) which now leaves average students to be paying almost N16,000, dissolution of the students union, harassment and assault on students by policemen and security men, and banning of religious and other students activities on campus.

The intervention of the NANS Zone D via meeting with the management has not fundamentally been fruitful due to the vindictive and recalcitrant posture of the management under the vice-chancellorship of Prof. Akere and that of the state government who have reduced the institution to their personal property.

We are calling on Nigerian students, workers, labour and students' unions to send protest letters to the vice-chancellor, AAU, Akungba Akoko and the Ondo State governor, calling for the immediate reinstatement of Ojuri Iranlowo (students' union president) and eighteen others and an end to all attacks on the students.

The NANS Zone D calls on you to join us at a rally at AAU, Akungba Akoko on November 11th, 2002 as we mark the 7th year remembrance of Kenule Beeson Saro-Wiwa and the other eight Ogonis who were brutally murdered by the late despot, Gen. Sani Abacha, on November 10th, 1995.

July 10 Cult Attack At OAU:

A TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE

The three members of the "killers squad", Black Axe cult group, Efosa Idahosa, Kazeem Bello, Emeka Ogwuaju standing trial since 1999 over the gruesome murder of five students of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife on July 10 1999 were discharged and acquitted on Tuesday 29th October, 2002 by Justice Rabiu Yusuff of the State High Court, Iwo, Osun State. The victims were George 'Yemi Iwilade (Afrika), the general secretary of the students' union, Tunde Oke (Sabo), a member of DSM, Efe Ekede, Eviano Ekelemu and Yemi Ajiteru. The presiding judge claimed to have based the ruling on the alleged inability of the prosecution to establish any case against the accused persons.

The students' union of OAU Ile-Ife in its reaction to the judgement through a release signed by Akinwunmi Olawoyin and Fadugba 'Dayo, the president and PRO respectively, saw it as a flagrant perversion of justice. They dismissed the ground of the judgement as baseless and unacceptable. According to them: "

Our union was able to make available useful evidences supported with strength of logic and indisputable facts". Thus, they strongly suspected foul play in the process. "

It would not be out of place to for us to conclude that there was an unholy alliance among the judiciary, the prosecution and the accused more so in Nigeria where the judiciary, like every other arms of the government, is riddled with corrupt practices as evident in the recently released white paper on the reports of Kayode Eso and Bolarinwa Babalakin's Panels. Therefore, the judgement is unacceptable to us as well as the people of good conscience"., the students’ union stated.

The ground of the judgement diametrically contradicts the report of Okoi Itam Judicial Panel of Enquiry set up to investigate the July 10 killings. The report whose government white paper is yet to be released almost after three years, strongly suspects the involvement of the three released gangsters in the massacre. The panel further recommends immediate arrest of those that are at large among the culprits. The police has made no effort to track down these cultists.

However, one should not be surprised by the obnoxious ruling given the fact that the ruling class, as a rule, cannot easily sacrifice any of its own to satisfy the oppressed. In this case on recalls the Okoi Itam Panel which cleared the former vice-chacellor, Wale Omole of any culpability in the carnage in spite of massive evidence and incontrovertible facts to the contrary.

As equally stated by the union, this judgement is not unprecedented. In March 1999 an Ile-Ife Magistrate Court discharged and acquitted some members of the Black Axe cult group: Larry Obichei, IK Imordi, Kanmi Ogundipe, etc. Who were apprehended with arms and ammunition that included AK 47 riffle with 58 rounds of ammunition by Great Ife students led by late George Iwilade (Afrika), similarly for want of evidence! This was done with active connivance of the then disgraced despotic vice chancellor of the institution, Professor Wale Omole who had resorted to the use of the cult gangsters, as confessed by the latter, as the means of repression against the student activists who constantly oppose his anti-student regime and financial recklessness after other repressive measures failed to achieve their objectives. These cultists, emboldened by the ruling of March and the patronage of Wale Omole, took part in the carnage of July 10,1 999.

The implication of this Tuesday 29th October, 2002 judgement could be as grievous as that of the previous one mentioned above. The judgement would be a source of encouragement to the cult gangsters who would now swagger with stout confidence that they can commit any offence, no matter how heinous, with impunity.

The failure of the government to bring to book the culprits of the July 10 massacre has exposed the insincerity of its much-touted crusade against the menace. The OAU students' union is demanding that the government should appeal against the judgement. It must not be forgotten however that the top brass in the government and wealthy people are the parents, sponsors and patrons of the cultists on our campuses. Thus nobody should have illusion that this demand would be met readily by government.

Thus, Nigerian students particularly the OAU students’ union and NANS, labour movement and human rights organisations etc, should mount serious pressure on the government appeal the judgement. It is a fact that July 10 was a watershed in the annals of the menace of campus gangsterism and resistance against it. It was the spirited fight-back by the students of OAU, Great Ife, and the solidarity from other students’ unions and workers, which prevented the ugly incident from being thrown into the trash bin of history as it used to be the case. To curb cultism on the campuses will continue to depend primarily on mass mobilisation of students and other members of the university community and the labour movement against these violent pro-authority gangsters.

U.I STUDENTS’ RIGHTS STILL ENDANGERED

  • Student Activists victimised/persecuted

  • Students’ unionism strangulated

  • Education commercialised

At the University of Ibadan (UI), there is a renewed wave of attacks on students rights to education, independent students' unionism, freedom of thought and opinion, and aggressive programme of victimisation and persecution of student activists leading students defence of these rights, by the university management under the leadership of the ultra-right, dictatorial vice-chancellor, Prof. Ayodele Falase. The most recent of these attacks on the student body being the commercialisation of the student hostels, with the introduction of a so-called 'hall maintenance fee', ranging from N3,500 to N20,000 (for undergraduates and post graduates); the continuous strangulation of the students' union and its activities by the university management, and most significantly, the rustication of Lawal Ibrahim, 400L Law student and ex-speaker of the students' union on 14th May, 2002 and another student activist, Ali M. Ayodeji on 15th May, for a host of spurious and frivolous allegations ranging from what the authorities call acts of "gross misconduct" to "participation in illegal student demonstration" and/or

‘’holding, together with some other students, an illegal meeting at the students' union building".

Apart from the two student activists who have been rusticated and expelled, a host of others including Alayande Stephen (incumbent co-ordinator of NANS Zone D) and Adeosun Ola, speaker of the embattled students' union have also been pencilled down for victimisation, having been invited to the quisling Student Disciplinary Committee (SDC). The president of the students' union, Lawal Akeem, was not allowed to register for the session just concluded (2001/2002) despite not having been found guilty of any offence, except perhaps the bruising of the ego of the vice-chancellor.

BACKGROUND

The present spate of victimisation of student activists and perpetuation of other anti-student, anti-poor and dictatorial policies by the UI administration is traceable to a bold and courageous attempt made by the present generation of student activist at the UI to wrestle the students' union from the domination of the university authorities to entrench independent democratic students' unionism devoid of undue authority intervention and manipulation, and to utilise same platform to defend the student body against education commercialisation trend, victimisation of student activists, authority high-handedness, cultism and other anti-social acts, and other basic rights of students. On 29th November, 2000, the students' union election for 2000/2001 session was conducted in accordance with the provisions of the new students' union constitution reviewed by the student representatives council and adopted by the student congress.

The decision by the students to go ahead with the elections on the basis of the new students' union constitution, which confers autonomy and independence on the students' union, ran contrary to the wishes and desire and in fact, bruised the ego of the new university administration of Prof. Ayodele Falase, who had desired a return to the ignoble days when the authorities dominated running of the affairs of the students' union including the conduct of students' union elections, a position the authorities usually employ to prevent radical students from partaking in students' union elections and to ensure that the students' union remains the alter ego of the university management.

COURT CASE

Having failed in all its attempt to prevent the students from independently organising the students' union elections of November 2000, the Prof. Falase led UI authorities launched a deliberate and aggressive programme of legal, political and administrative sanction against the students' union, then under the new leadership of Lawal Akeem (president) and Wale Eleto (General secretary,), including a fabulous campaign of lies, deceits and calumny. Not able to subdue the new union leadership politically due to the mass support of the students, the university management filed an application first at the Oyo State High Court seeking the court to declare the said union elections illegal and to perpetually restrain the officers from acting as duly elected officers of the students.

In desperation however, it could not even wait for the outcome of the court judgement before it issued a fiat suspension order on the entire leadership of the union and all other students who had contested or served in the union electoral commission. In all, a total of 43 students, including those presently being persecuted, were suspended from their academic programmes. This decision was later reversed by the Oyo State High Court. After its failed attempt at the state high court, the university management finally secured a judgement of the federal High court, Ibadan, retraining the elected officers of the union from acting as such pending the outcome of a substantive suit seeking to perpetually declare the elections illegal. A judgement the students proceeded to appeal against at the Court of Appeal in Ibadan. Ruling on the students' appeal has been fixed for December 4, 2002.

RENEWED WAVE OF ATTACKS

Despite the continuous attacks and persecution however, and regardless of the general state of reaction in terms of political consciousness among the student body, occasioned by the prolonged battle, the leading student activists on the campus including Lawal Ibrahim, Alim Ayodeji, Alayande Stephen, Adeosun F.A., Lawal Akeem, etc have continued to organise and mobilise the student population around the primary issues of independent unionism, freedom to hold and express different opinions on issues, opposition to education commercialisation, academic sadism, authority high-handedness, opposition to cultism and associated social menace, among others.

When at the beginning of the 2001/2002 academic session just concluded, the authorities unfolded their anti-poor plan to commercialise the student hostels and increase some other fees payable on campus, a major reason for their long-drawn persecution of the students' union, the student activists rallied the students around the "Joint Action Committee" of the students' union to campaign against these policies of the UI authorities. Although no major gains were recorded in terms of outright cancellation or reduction in the fees being campaigned against, the efforts of the said student leaders, coming after such a prolonged battle with many victims already recorded no doubt helped to rebuild consciousness and confidence in the ability of the students to fight back against future attacks on their basic rights. This latest effrontery by the student activists is the cause of the renewed spate of victimisation/and persecution.

The students have however expressed their preparedness to wage legal and political campaign against these dictatorial recalcitrance of the Prof. Falase .

The DSM once again condemns all the aforementioned undemocratic, anti-student and uncivilised activities of the UI authorities. We express our unrelenting solidarity with the cause of the student activists and the entire student body. Consequently, we call on the students to remain steadfast in the struggle to secure and protect the independence of their union; the reinstatement of the politically victimised activists and the struggle against the education commercialisation trend which the UI authorities is implementing in accordance with the dictates of the education commercialisation policy of the Obasanjo capitalist government. We join the students to demand the reinstatement of all activists being victimised and a halt to the victimisation of others. The demand of the independence of the students' union devoid of undue authority interference. We also call for a halt to the planned hike in fees payable in the institution next session (2002/2003) in continuation of the anti-poor education commercialisation trend.

Conclusively, we also call on other students' unions, NANS, trade unions, NLC, human rights and community groups, the staff unions in the UI campus to rally round the students in their ongoing struggle. Send letters of protest calling for independent unionism, reinstatement of politically victimised student activists and a halt to the victimisation of others, and an end to education commercialisation in UI to:

(1) The Vice-Chancellor,

University of Ibadan,

UI Post Office,

Ibadan, Oyo State,

Nigeria.

e-mail: registrar@ui.edu.ng

(2) The Minister of Education,

Federal Ministry of Education,

FCT, Abuja,

Nigeria.

 

UNILORIN:

Relief As Oba Leaves, But…

The workers, lecturers and students of the University of Ilorin were full of relief when on 20th August, 2002, the inglorious tenure of Prof. Shuaib Oba-Ibraheem as the university's vice-chancellor came to an end.

One of the vice-chancellors who came into office during the dark days of Abacha military dictatorship, Prof. Oba ran a repressive, dictatorial and vindictive administration during the time he spent in office. Student and labour activists in particular were routinely victimised for daring to fight for decent conditions for students and workers on the campus.

As at the time Oba was leaving office, leading student activists such as Tosin Akinrogunde was serving an expulsion sentence while Lanre Akinola and Rasheedat Adesina, who had completed their students, still have their examination results withheld. The peak of the repression however, was the sacking of 44 lecturers (including union leaders) last year for daring to take part in the nation-wide strike action organised by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) between April and June, 2001.

However, it will be naïve to assume that Oba's exit will automatically lead to the easing of repression on the campus and respect for the rights of workers and students by the authorities. In the final analysis, the atmosphere that will prevail in the aftermath of Oba's exit will be determined by the readiness of workers, lecturers and students and the various unions to stand up and defend their rights and living and academic conditions. The ASUU, NASU and the students' union should rise to redress the injustices perpetrated by the Oba regime. Among the issues we should work towards include:

* Immediate recall of the 44 sacked lecturers

* Immediate reinstatement of Tosin Akinrogunde and other expelled or rusticated student activists

* Immediate release of the examination results of Lanre Akinola and Rasheedat Adesina

* For freedom of association, assembly and expression on the campus. An end to repressive measures against students' societies.

* Democratic management of the education system with elected representatives of lecturers, non-academic staff and students on all committees and decision-making bodies.


DSM: What We Stand For

DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS

· Immediate and unconditional reinstatement of the sacked Lagos State civil servants and other victimised workers and trade unionists... Click here for more ...


 

 

NCP Ijaye Holds Party School

The Ifako-Ijaiye Local Government chapter of the National Conscience Party (NCP) on Saturday 14th September, 2002 held an educational programme tagged "NCP School" with the theme "Upholding Ncp's Tenet And Ideology As A Political Culture". The programme chaired by Sina Odugbemi, the General Secretary of the Lagos NCP had Dr. Osagie Obayuwana and Mr. Adeola Soetan, the National Deputy Chairman (South-South) and Chairman Ogun State NCP respectively as the guest speakers while Mr. Lateef Abassi, a Washington DC based member and governorship aspirant of the party in Lagos State gave a keynote address.

 

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