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Socialist Democracy April - May 2003 | Index

BUILD LECTURE ROOMS, NOT POLICE POSTS!

 

The Committee of Vice Chancellors recently came out with a proposal calling for the bringing back police posts to campuses. They claim this is the only measure that can guarantee crisis-free campuses. The Nigerian Police and the government have warmly welcomed the proposal. After the students and academic and non academic staffs protested against the moves in strong terms, it appears the government has mellowed down on the implementation. But this does not imply the issue is over; most likely it will be reopened at an appropriate time. This may be soonest, as the students have become radicalised by the policy of commercialisation of education which is now the order of the day.

The crises on our campuses are mainly cultist violence and the agitation of the students and members of staff for academic and welfare improvements on campuses and against corruption among the school authorities. The students also fight against commercialisation of education as it is manifested in increase in payable fees and introduction of new charges which is now the order. Although, the ostensible reason for the police post on campuses, in reality it is meant to be used as repressive apparatus to browbeat and suppress the students and members of staff in the course of fighting for their interests and rights and which may become more vicious if those agitation expose the corruption of the authorities and the governments.

One cannot say the menace of campus cultism should not be addressed, but the point is that stationing police presence on campuses is not the panacea. It is a fact the police on campuses will be as dangerous as campus cultism with possible police killing of members of the academic community by accidental discharge along with characteristic harassment, bribery, etc. as it obtains in the larger society. Besides this, if one considers the fact that the Nigerian police are not disciplined and they are poverty-stricken, on campuses they will be aiding and abetting the cultists after collecting bribes from the latter. This is also a well-known phenomenon in the larger society between the police and armed robbers and other category of criminals.

Moreover, the vice chancellors, rectors and provosts are not sincere at tackling the problem of campus cultism, as they also usually make use of the cultists to deal with any radical student leader even to the point of death. Examples of this abounds. We have seen such instance at Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, University of Benin, Lagos State University, University of Ibadan where cultists were once reportedly sponsored to attack union leaders. In some of these cases lives were lost. Besides, the cultists have godfathers in the larger society who are either their parents or patrons who are always highly placed.

The menace of campus cultism can be curtailed if there is a formidable students' unions and sincerity on the parts of the authorities and the governments. This is the paradox of the matter as the authorities and government see the radical student unions as a worse enemy.

By and large, the crises on campuses are a reflection of what is happening in the larger society where violence have become the order of the day with the murder of political leaders for instance and the policies of the government are anti-people .

The crisis on our campuses is the crisis of capitalism. As long as there are under funding of education, which is in line with IMF\World Bank dictated neo-liberal policies of commercialisation and privatisation, corruption in the education sector which is a characteristic phenomenon of capitalism, and lack of democratic culture on campuses; the crises on our campuses will persist. Police posts cannot prevent them but only compound them.

All those stated phenomena are products of capitalism; therefore there is no lasting solution to campus crises within the framework of capitalism. We have to fight for alternative socio-economic policies which can ensure that education is properly funded, corruption is eradicated and democratic culture encouraged. This can only be ultimately obtained under genuine democratic, socialism. Therefore as we are fighting against the ills in the education sector, the struggle must always been linked to the overall struggle of the working people against capitalism and for the socialist reconstruction of the society.

 

 

 

Socialist Democracy April - May 2003 | Index