Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM)

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Socialist Democracy Feb - Mar 2003

 

UI Students’ Union Victory: Not Yet Uhuru

By Ojo Olajire

No doubt, the December 6th, 2002 judgement at the court of appeal in a case between UI students' union and university authorities is a major victory for UI students in their struggle for independent students' unionism. The ruling will go down as one of the decisive victories won by the students since inception of students' unionism on that campus.

It would be recalled that the UI authorities filed a suit at the Federal High Court, FHC, Ibadan, against students' union over an election conducted by students on 29th November, 2000.

The judgement at FHC delivered by Justice DJK Lawson reads thus "--- it is hereby ordered that the Defendants (Lawal Akeem, Sangotade Tinuade, Wale Eleto, Musa Toyin, Bello Temitpe, Lawal Ibrahim) shall be restrained from acting as duly elected officers and\or parading themselves as duly elected officers of the students' union of University of Ibadan ---- it is further ordered that the Vice-chancellor shall direct that the students' union shall conduct a Fresh election on or before the end of the first quarter of the year 2001.

Not satisfied with the jugdement, the students' union filed an appeal against the order granted to the UI authorities at FHC. While the legal action was on, the battle also took political dimension. As a result of the battle, students were attacked with obnoxious, anti-students policies, some students' union leaders/activists were victimised and some are still penciled down for 'disciplinary' action through one of the authorities instruments of discipline students, Students Disciplinary Committee, SDC.

The reason for all these attacks cannot be separated from UI authorities’ readiness to desperately control the unions, both of students and staff, not only for their selfish interest but to implement to the anti-poor policies of the Obasanjo administration whom authorities are representing. It is to facilitate the emergence of pro-authority leaders in the students' union who will be incapable of defending students' rights and interest at all time.

But while the ruling at Court of Appeal represents a big step forward for independent students' unionism, it should be seen as an avenue to struggle for better welfare conditions of students and staff, well-funded education, democratisation of all decision making bodies of the management of higher learning etc.

A part of the battles ahead is the "review" of Students' union constitution by the UI Senate despite the Court of Appeal ruling that recognizes the students' rights of association and independent organisation of their activists. The greatest headache of UI authorities, however, is the determination of the Students' Union to exert its independence and free itself from the control of the authorities. The November 29th 2000 election was conducted on the basis of a new constitution. The constitution which had been approved by the Students' Representatives Council, the legislative arm of the union is more democratic than the previous constitution. The "review" of Union constitution by the UI Senate, a body on which the students do not have a single representative is very undemocratic and therefore it should be thrown into waste bin of history.

The arbitrary increment and introduction of fees such as ID card, hall maintenance where a bed space is being sold at the rate of N3,500, N10,000 and N25,000 for undergraduate and postgraduate respectively, with extraneous agreements called tenancy agreements, and others. But with the education commercialisation and privatisation policies of Obasanjo administration and constant demand on school management, including UI, to increase internally generated revenue, this means that students will be asked to pay more for not-up-to-standard education they receive. So there must be a pounding pressure by students and other change-seeking individuals towards hike in school fees.

Having gone through years of battle, the confident of students of UI must be first of all restored back to the union. The students' union leaders/activists should make it as a point of duty for proper dissemination of information to students if the need arises. There is the compelling need to produce periodic leaflets, posters, organise rallies, symposia, mass protests / demonstrations to educate students and members of the public, and equally press home their traditional demands. To guide against isolation, efforts should be made to have working relationships with academic and non-academic union, labour union, change-seeking organisations/individuals, and if possible a political party that has focus and genuine leaders that have the interest of the poor people at heart, with programmes and manifestoes where workers and poor masses shall seek to struggle for power in order to an build new society for all and stop the looters ruining us again.

More importantly, it should be cleared that a major step that can gives total confident of students in the rebuilding of their union is to ideologically reorientate and rearm the mass of students and establishment of socialist groups. The primary task of these groups will be the training of a new layer of socialist cadres among the students and workers.

The primary task confronting all genuine activists/socialists including the cadres of Democratic Socialist Movement, (DSM), therefore is the task of rebuilding student movement into a virile, programmatic, democratic, mass-based and fighting organisation leading struggles against anti-poor capitalist policies and programmes in the short-run and as partners of the working class in the struggle for the transformation of the society. It is only the socialist transformation of the society and nationalisation of the commanding heights of the economy under the democratic control of the working class will bring the required long-lasting solution to the working masses, youths, traders, artisans, professionals, peasants, of the country and no amount of tinkering of the present market forces (capitalist) economy will alleviate the mass poverty and misery in which poor masses are forced to live.

Without the persistent pressure and agitation by students and other organisations like DSM, pro-democracy activists, UI authorities as agents of Obasanjo would have succeeded in violating the democratic rights of UI students by denying them the freedom to organise and conduct their affairs independently. Who then says struggle does not pay for a just cause. If we fight we can win!

 

 

 

 

NANS Zone D Protests Against The Victimisation Of Akungba 19

Victory Recorded At OSCOED

By: Alayande Stephen T, NANS Zone D Coordinator

On the 1st and 2nd of December, 2002, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) Zone D and the students of Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba held a protest march and a 2-day lecture boycott on the campus to press home the demand for the immediate reinstatement of Iranlowo Ojuri and 18 student leaders.

It would be recalled that the affected students' union leaders were rusticated and expelled following their roles in a student demonstration of April 2002 when they demanded an improvement in the appalling state of infrastructures on the campus with the provision of standard lecture rooms, a modern well-equipped library, laboratories, adequate offices for lecturers, toilets and recreational facilities etc. It is on record that prior to the said student demonstration, facilities available on the campus for learning, teaching and research were nothing to write home with about 8-9 lecturers sharing a single staff room, students falling over themselves to receive lectures in very small and dusty rooms, library is of capacity for less than 50 students out of thousands, amidst many unpalatable situations.

It is important to state that while the authorities of the institution found the student demonstration as a necessary impetus to awaken them to their responsibilities in providing facilities in the institution as some of the demand of the students are now being gradually met, they still thought it wise to make those who acted as the "messengers of truth" the sacrificial lambs.

Unfortunately, it was in the cause of the second day lecture boycott and peaceful protest march that a detachment of mean-looking armed mobile policemen swooped on the peaceful congress of the students, firing indiscriminately, beating and maiming innocent defenceless students. Several students were wounded , seven including the students' union president (Ojuri Iranlowo) were arrested, tortured and taken away to Akure by mobile policemen. They were however released alongside the impounded Mercedes Benz 1414 bus belonging to the OAU students' union (one of the buses in which the NANS Zone D had used to conduct the intervention to the campus) seven days of after the unlawful detention.

It is disheartening that despite the current civil rule with the toga of democracy, the current custodians of the peoples' mandate who are supposed to hold the respect for fundamental rights of citizens like Governor Adefarati of Ondo State chose to maintain the Abacha like despotic manner, by giving orders to mobile policemen to shoot at students, arrest, detain and even refuse them bail after intervention of lawyers.

We commend the revolutionary intervention and solidarity of all the unions that have contributed to the struggle of the Akungba 19 and most importantly the resoluteness and doggedness of the students of the institution, but it must be stated that it is not over until it is finally over, for if we continue to struggle and mobilise we can win but if we do not, we have lost already. The battle continues politically, legally etc until our colleagues are recalled.

In a related development, it is note worthy to say that our struggle at the Osun State College of Education Ilesa, has yielded some fruits, ranging from the reopening of the institution, a slash to the reparation fee to N300, dropping of the planned victimisation of students' union leaders, purchase of a new students' union bus by the college authorities who had earlier sold the bus, conduct of students' union election as against the supposed ban on union activities amidst others.

Lastly, this further buttresses our point that our strength lies in our collectivity, we have nothing to lose but our chains of oppression.

 

 

 

ASUU Strike: FG, Honour The Agreement

Joint Action Needed For Total Victory

By Ojo Olajire

Since 29th December, 2002, academic activities in all universities have been halted as a result of industrial action of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU. The ASUU decided to embark on the strike to demand the immediate implementation of the June 2001 agreement signed between it and the federal government. The agreement, which basically centres on funding, university autonomy and restructure and basic salary contains among other things allocation of the 26% of the budget to education in line with the UNESCO recommendation and reinstatement of the 44 sacked lecturers at University of Ilorin.

The government has since flagrantly violated the agreement. For instance, the allocation to education thereafter has even been less than the previous one before the agreement and it has been progressively decline.7.0% was allocated in 2001, 5.9% in 2002 and 1.83% is proposed by the government for 2003 in its appropriation bill currently before the National Assembly. Moreover, in relation to the 44 lecturers of UNILORIN, the government has not only repudiated the agreement, it has also openly aided and abetted the sustenance of their criminal and unjust persecution by the then despotic Vice chancellor of the university, Shuaib Oba Abdul Raheem and General Salihu Ibrahim, the pro-chancellor and a former Chief of Army Staff. This is to mention but few.

The government and ASUU have gone back to the negotiation table. The crux of the matter now is that the government is calling for the review of the agreement while ASUU insists on its Implementation. But meanwhile the government has announced the 30% increase in the over head cost for the university and the full approval of Universities Academic Staff Scale. This is a bait for the ASUU as it is an attempt to limit their struggle to basic salary and to divide their rank and file, since some members may tend to jump at such carrot. The struggle of ASUU as contained in the agreement is to revamp the collapsing education.

However, it is instructive to state that while the struggle of ASUU is commendable, the task of revamping of education should be shouldered by the every staff union in the sector (i.e. ASUU, ASUP COEASU, SSANU, NASU, SSAUTHRIAI, NUT etc. ) along with the Nigerian students. There should be joint action among the staff unions and the students with formation of a formidable force that can give the required strength to the struggle. In the meantime, ASUU should take the struggle beyond the four walls of campuses by organising public rallies and symposia in order to enlist physical participation of the working people and to mount a political pressure on the government.

This government's brazen and shameless violation of the agreement is not unconnected with its characteristic contemptible attitude to the education in line with the IMF/World Bank dictated neo-liberal policies of privatisation and commercialisation of education and other social services.

Our institutions lack adequate and necessary facilities for qualitative studies like libraries, laboratories, classroom, portable water supply etc. The institutions are run like military barracks with brazen infringement on the rights of the students and members of staff to freedom of expression , association, etc. The calling for the return of police posts back to campuses, by Committee of Vice-chancellors, is a pointer to the fact that various school authorities are hell bent to suppress popular and genuine struggles of students and workers for better academic and welfare condition.

Contrary to ASUU position and demands of Nigerian students, the government has resolved to shirk its social responsibility of adequate funding of education as it has created basis, through under-funding of education, for the authorities of institution to impose various obnoxious charges and fees on the students. This has been making the education the exclusive preserve of children of the few rich and treasury looters. Moreover, the sorry state of our institutions, from the primary to tertiary, is not a concern to the governments since they can afford to send their wards to private schools or abroad to acquire good education.. The education is expected to be funded from the abundant resources of the country and the tax payer money not from the pocket of the government functionary.

As ASUU and other staff unions along with the students are fighting for proper funding of education, the sight must not lost on the fact corruption is another phenomenon that has compounded the financial crisis of the education sector. Therefore, we must equally demand for democratic management of our institutions with the elected representatives of the students and academic and non-academic staff.

Ultimately, the struggle must be linked with the overall struggle of the working people against the entire IMF/ World Bank induced neo-liberal policies of deregulation of essential services, privatisation of commanding heights of economy, commercialisation of social services, devaluation of Naira. The struggle must be equally elevated to political realm for a socialist reconstruction of the society as against the exploitative, oppressive anti-people and pro-rich system called capitalism.

 

 

Victimisation At Unilorin:

No End In Sight

By Lanre Akinola

It seems that the authorities of the University of Ilorin (UNILORIN) have placed itself above the law. In the past five years, UNILORIN authorities have ignored several orders of the various courts of the land. It is on record that the immediate past vice-chancellor of the institution, Professor S.O. Abdulrahhem treated various court orders to reinstate both victimized staff and students with impunity.

When Abdulraheem failed to get the extension of his tenure and he was eventually kicked out of office, the general feeling was that the new vice-chancellor would correct various injustices perpetrated by the administration of Abdulraheem. But, instead of correcting the injustices, the new Vice-chancellor, Professor Shamsideen Amali is determined to maintain the status quo.

It is on record that the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) wrote a letter to the new vice-chancellor urging him to obey the various court orders in respect of victimized student activists. He was urged to ensure the immediate release of final statement of results of Lanre Akinola and Rasheedat Adesina being withheld since 1999 and reinstatement of Tosin Akinrogunde, Hammed Balogun and Kayode Mogbojuri in the interest of justice and in obedience to various court orders on the matters. But, up till today none of the student activists has been reinstated or their final statement of results released.

The administration of UNILORIN under Professor Shamsideen Amali has also refused to address the case of the sacked lecturers. Instead, his administration has been victimizing lecturers operating under the UNILORIN ASUU Coordinating Committee. Their offence is that they are calling for the reinstatement of their sacked colleagues.

To show the crudeness of the present vice-chancellor, recently, he mobilized some deans and directors to make representation to the Federal Government that UNILORIN community does not want the sacked lecturers back on campus. But, the fact is that majority of students and staff want the sacked lecturers' back on campus.

Finally, the on going ASUU strike over the sacked lecturers at UNILORIN and other matters should be supported by Nigerians. Instead of calling on ASUU to suspend the strike, Nigerians should put pressure on the government of President Obasanjo to honour the agreement reached with the ASUU in June 2001.

Meanwhile, the position of the Federal Government that ASUU should accept the posting of sacked UNILORIN lecturers to other Federal Universities is laughable and untenable. This present position of the government reveals that the sacking of lecturers can no longer be justified but instead of compelling the administration and Governing Council of UNILORIN to reinstate the sack lecturers, the government wants Nigerians to believe that UNILORIN community does not want the lecturers back hence the idea of posting them to other universities.

If truly, the government does not want to 'impose' the sack lecturers on UNILORIN, why did the same government want to impose them by way of posting on other universities? In any event, the lecturers were not sacked because they were rejected by the university community but for their participation in ASUU nationwide strike in 2001. Hence, the issue that UNILORIN community does not want them should not arise.

Conclusively, the truth of the matter is that both President Obasanjo and Minister of Education, Dr. Babalola Borishade have realized that the sacking of the lecturers is unjustifiable but they do not want to go against their earlier statements that the decision of UNILORIN administration and Governing Council to sack the lecturers is irreversible and final. The issue at stake is ego and nothing more.

 

 

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