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For struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

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May 19, 2005

 

Democratic Socialist Movement Press Statement:

 

OAU: ONE CLOSURE, TOO MANY! REOPEN OAU NOW!

 

We of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), OAU branch, hereby condemn the unwholesome indefinite postponement of the resumption for the rain semester of the 2003/2004 session by the management of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. To us, the repeated closure of the university is becoming too much to bear for students whose stay has been unnecessarily extended, for the fourth time in the past three sessions such that extension of resumption is almost becoming a norm in the university.

 

It will be recalled that about few days ago, the management announced the indefinite closure of the university (after a senate meeting had earlier fixed May 17, 2005 for resumption). The reason for the closure according to them is a result of the lingering "industrial conflict" in the university involving the management and the Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU). We wish to state that this closure cannot resolve the crises facing the university but rather aggravate it while punishing the students for ineptitude of the management.

 

As much as we recognize that there is an industrial crisis on campus, we however reject the self-absolving posture of the university management on the crisis when it is glaring that it is the same management through its rabid commitment to the government anti-worker policy of "no work, no pay" that ignited the crisis. It will be recalled that since year 2003 when the ASUU embarked on industrial strike to press home the implementation of its agreement with the federal government including proper funding of the education sector to 26% of budget. Rather than for management to appreciate the historic effort of the ASUU, it has contrarily committed itself to the government-induced victimization of the lecturers through the withholding of the two month salaries of the lecturers who participated in the struggle, while it (the management) paid its bootlickers and strike breakers. This ignited a protest from the lecturers, which led to the withholding of the last rain semester results of the students by the lecturers. It is hypocritical for a management that is crying wolf of under funding of the university to be victimizing lecturers who fought for the proper funding of the education.

 

We make bold to say that a worker has the right to his pay and has the right to protest against inhuman and degrading working conditions in any rational form including strike. Therefore, as we condemn the "no work, no pay" policy, we also demand the immediate payment of all the withheld salaries and allowances of all workers of the university.

 

Furthermore, we reject the one-sided presentation of the crises rocking the university as industrial crises. In fact, the crises rocking the university are communal in character. It should be stated that aside the management-induced industrial crisis, the management has also embark on victimization spree on studentsí activists who have been fighting against the mismanagement and misrule of the university authorities on staff and students. About nine students have either being expelled or suspended in the past few weeks including two members of the DSM. The basic reason for their victimization is their involvement in the November 3rd, 2004 crisis that rocked the university.

 

While not supporting acts of individual violence or terror, we maintain that the actual basis for the victimization is the perceived opposition of these studentsí activists to the high handedness and education commercialisation policy of the university authorities. This is because the mode of adjudging the culpability of people in the crisis is undemocratic and ill motivated. While the management is giving itself a clean slate in the crisis, it has unilaterally condemned other people, when in reality, it was the management that instigated the crisis through its rabid implementation of unwholesome and provocative policies including increase in fees; bad welfare condition; "no work, no pay" policies and non release of studentsí last rain semester results. All these, coupled with high handedness of the management through invitation of mobile policemen to quench studentsí peaceful protest at the slightest opportunity (which in fact led to killing of an innocent student, Rasheed Laketu in the crisis), generated the November 3rd crisis.

 

Therefore, to really address the crisis of November 3rd, 2004 crisis, we have restated our long time demand for an independent and democratic panel of inquiry into the crisis to including the elected representatives of the all interest groups on campus including the studentsí union. To this end, we reject the victimization as such is a product of unwarranted witch hunting and outright victimization of studentsí activists. This approach as we often state is nothing but sheer escapism in that it tends to look for scapegoats instead of frontally addressing the issues causing increasing protests and strikes by university workers and students alike.

 

To this end, we demand for:

 

  • Immediate reopening of the university because the closure can not resolve any of the crisis, but rather victimize the students who have suffered so much of calendar extension for the past three sessions.

 

  • Total opposition to the anti-worker "no work, no pay" policy and immediate payment of the outstanding salaries and allowances of all the workers of the university.

 

  • Immediate reversal of the victimization of studentsí activists. For an independent and democratic panel of inquiry (including studentsí union representative) to look into the November 3rd, 2004 crisis and other sundry issues.

 

  • Immediate release of the last rain semester results of the students.

 

  • End to education commercialization policy. For a properly funded, democratically managed education sector.

 

 

Signed

 

 

KOLA IBRAHIM

Secretary General

 

Please send protest letters

 

Through: The Registrar

To: The Vice-chancellor, Obafemi Awolowo University, Osun state, Nigeria.

Email: rogerm@oauife.edu.ng, registrar@oauife.edu.ng

 

Copies of the letters can also be sent to the DSM via dsmcentre@hotmail.com