Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM)
For struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria
Newspaper of the DSM
25 March, 2005
Nigerian Union of Teachers 2005 Elections:
Dagga Tolar, member of National Executive Committee of DSM, Elected as Vice Chairman in Ajeromi-Ifelodun Local Government, Lagos State
After the earlier disruption of the elections on March 10 (reported below), following the agitation against the attempt of the outgoing leadership to manipulate the electoral process, the elections into the executive of the Ajeromi-Ifelodun chapter of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) were finally concluded on Wednesday March 23, 2005.
Comrade Segun Ajayi (a.k.a AJ Dagga Tolar) a National Executive Committee member of DSM, an affiliate of Committee for a Workers International (CWI), and founding member of the Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR) emerged victorious as the third vice-chairman at the end of the election with 210 votes. His election into the Union was greeted with a resounding ovation from a majority of the people present at the elections venue. In all, United Teachers Forum (UTF) under whose banner he stood, won 7 out of the 13 posts contested at these elections.
However, the UTF lost the post of Chairman and as such, most of the UTF members and supporters were not happy at the end of the announcement of results by the chief electoral officer. Unfortunately in the election not all the candidates standing on the UTF slate put forward the Forum’s policies, thereby contributing to its failure to win the Chairmanship, while Dagga Tolar campaigned on a clear position. (Dagga’s manifesto is reprinted below)
But Comrade Dagga Tolar rose to the occasion by calling the UTF members together and addressed them politically on the gains of the UTF generally despite the loss of the Chairmanship seat.
He told them that this is the first election in the Ajeromi-Ifelodun L.G.A with the semblance of anything democratic because past ones were based on methods of selection and adoption. He made it clear that this is the beginning of the democratisation of the NUT as a union. He told them that the posts of Financial Secretary and Treasurer, which were won by the UTF, are key posts in the NUT as regards the financial aspect of running the Union, and can be further used to check the corruption in the union. He also pointed out that the UTF had a simple majority of members, which may influence radical decision-making positively within the Union.
With the entrance of Comrade Dagga into the NUT leadership, there is a great possibility of transforming the NUT into a vibrant Union that will fight for and protect the rights of all teachers in the local branch, and also act as a model for the State and National bodies respectively. Armed with a socialist agenda, our comrades are committed to further our intervention in the struggles of teachers in particular and workers in general through one on one discussion with teachers, organising seminars and symposiums, and general interventions with leaflets and socialist materials at all programmes. We will also link the struggles in solidarity with other Unions. With comrade Dagga as a member of the NUT executive, a new platform has been created on which the fight to create a better society generally can be given further boost. Our scope of intervention both in politics and unionism has also been broadened.
National Secretariat, DSM
March 14, 2005 – the botched NUT election in Ajeromi-Ifelodun Local Government, Lagos.
The election to Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) Ajeromi-Ifelodun local government branch in Lagos State was scheduled to hold on Thursday, March 10, 2005. Comrade Dagga Tolar ran for a Vice Chairman’s position under the platform of the United Teachers Forum (UTF), the platform under which the rank and file classroom teachers organised their opposition to the right wing leadership of the outgoing Exco (Executive Committee).
The March 10 election was scheduled to have different sessions. The first section was for the speeches from the incumbent Chairman, Mr. Amao, Secretary and Treasurer, after which the outgoing leadership would be dissolved. The second session was for the accreditation of delegates and election.
However, the first session, which started at about 9am with the Chairman’s speech, took a very long time. The speech, which essentially was meant for brief account of stewardship of the outgoing leadership on how the interests of members have been protected only focused on office equipment, donations, without a mentioning of how workers’ rights had been protected or fought for. Long, but empty, speeches were also made by the Secretary and the Treasurer. The returning officer was also attempting to make a similar long speech eulogising the incumbent Chairman but was shouted down by the delegates whose three hours had been squandered on dry and empty speeches. Then, with the dissolution of the Exco, the first session came to an end.
The second session started immediately with the accreditation of delegates in alphabetical order from primary to secondary schools. This again took another four hours to complete. About the same time the accreditation was ending, (about 5pm) there was power outage. However the Amao outgoing leadership only hired an electricity generator for the period of between 8am and 3pm. This made the hall, which was filled to capacity with about 408 delegates, stuffy.
The returning officer, Mr. Matthew Adesuyi did not help matters with the way and manner in which he was conducting the procedures. First, he called delegates to vote according to the number on their accreditation tags. This became cumbersome when different delegates were having the same tag number. He later unilaterally changed this mode of voting to the sitting arrangement which also brought confusion as those in the back seats were rushing to the front so as to vote on time and go home since it was getting late.
The real intension of the outgoing Exco was to waste time in the first session, which it achieved, and delay the election till the evening without adequate provision for electricity. Again, if the election were delayed, most of the delegates who were change seekers were likely to be frustrated and consequently go back home to attend to family or private matters. This would of course give the incumbent and the returning officer a free day to rig and manipulate the election.
Therefore, by 6pm, the entire election process was in chaos. A candidate from Amao’s camp, who was also a delegate, was caught, by an agent of United Teachers Forum (UTF), stuffing a ballot box with ballot papers. Under this atmosphere, it was clear that the election could not go on as delegates were trying to retrieve the fake ballot papers that eventually led to a pandemonium. In protest against this fraud, delegates and teachers staged a walkout by trooping out in their hundreds. Hence, the election could not hold.
Nevertheless 53 copies of the March /April Edition of Socialist Democracy, the DSM paper, and 3 Nigeria Perspective documents were sold at the election venue while 50 copies of Socialist Democracy were also sold at Agege local government area NUT election where we did not run any candidate.
Manifesto of Segun Ajayi (AJ Dagga Tolar) contesting for third vice chairman of Nigeria Union of Teachers, Ajeromi-Ifelodun Branch, Lagos
NUT MARCH 2005 ELECTION
More than any other period in the history of public education in Nigeria, a new fighting union of teachers is needed to organize a mass defence against the ceaseless attack on public education as well as the un-ending trampling of the rights of teachers, pupils and students. By electing a leadership that is armed with the correct strategy and tactics at all levels - unit, local government, state and federal, etc, - success in this respect is guaranteed. Indeed, the time to change the public perception of the NUT as a conservative and docile union is now!!!
TYPICAL PROBLEMS FACING TEACHERS TODAY:
· Teachers are poorly and irregularly paid
· Teachers are poorly and irregularly trained
· Teachers lack the most basic of teaching aids and materials
· Teachers lack offices, chairs, tables, electric fans and a conducive environment to teach and research
· Teachers are poorly remunerated for other compulsory jobs they do outside teaching, such as serving as electoral officers
· Teachers are poorly motivated
· Teachers are over worked as a result of over crowded classes
TEACHERS ARE NOT THE ONLY ONES SUFFERING
For other workers in the education sector and the students, the story is hardly different as we all suffer for the collective failure of the Nigerian capitalist government to adequately fund education and allow it to be democratically managed by workers and professionals in the teaching and educational sector.
The situation from primary to tertiary levels has continued to deteriorate with no end in site to the rot. Examples of this decay include:
· The collapse of structures like buildings in the public schools
· Over-crowded classes causing students to sit and study on the floor and in open spaces, sometimes under trees
· Ill-equipped laboratories many of which have, in any case, been converted into classrooms, thus making the teaching of science subjects virtually non-existence
· Complete absence of library facilities and lack of necessary books in the few available ones
· Shortage of teachers etc.
· Decline in pupils' enrolment into public primary schools with most parents handing over their wards to exploitative private proprietors whose only and real interest is profit
· Too few vacancies, compared with the hundred of thousands of those seeking higher education.
· Massive unemployment among school leavers and graduates - a horrifying situation that has created growing layers of studentry that fundamentally have no confidence and interest in honest studies.
THINGS HAVE NEVER BEEN THIS BAD
Historically, the conditions of service of the education workers across the board had never been rosy. Hence the well known saying that teachers "reward are in heaven". However, this never rosy conditions had come under an unprecedented systematic attacks and rots in the past 2 decades or so. The public education sector has been virtually destroyed due to age-long under-funding and corruption in the running of the entire system. The result today is the virtual state of hopelessness that pervades the sector from primary to tertiary levels. This ought not to be the case and in fact this deplorable condition should be resisted. With a fighting NUT leadership run democratically and primarily to better the lots of the rank and file education workers, a considerable improvement can be won on many of the deplorable conditions enumerated above.
Unfortunately however, the dominant type of NUT leaders we have today are those that are only willing to use the union platform to better their own personal lot instead of using the union as an instrument to defend and better the interest of all its members.
WE NEED TO TRANSFORM THE UNION AND SOCIETY
If the NUT leadership today is committed to a fight to ensure improved conditions of service i.e. to fight to ensure that every teacher has a chair and desk, offices and other necessary teaching aids, reasonable number of pupils and students per class, for democratic management and accountability of the limited fund being voted for and generated within education sector, etc, many of the aforementioned deplorable conditions can be rapidly improved upon. However, to achieve substantial and stable improvement on these conditions, the entire rotten economic and political system which currently forms the bedrock of educational and other policies has to be transformed.
Currently, as a result of the selfish nature of this system, the collective wealth and resources of the society are being centrally geared only primarily to serve the profit interest and egos of the few rich. On the contrary, the needed and desired improvement in the education and all other key sectors bordering on the living standard of the people can only be properly and permanently funded in a society where the collective wealth and resources are commonly owned and centrally but democratically run by the working people themselves on the basis of an express commitment to meet the needs and aspirations of everybody and not just the rich. In this respect, I will fight for a NUT leadership which recognises the necessity and at the same time, is committed to fighting to bring about a government of the working people, exclusively and unswervingly committed to masses cause and not to oil corporations, World Bank, IMF, etc, as being done by the capitalist governments across the country.
DON'T BE AN ONLOOKER
"Every onlooker is either a coward or traitor" - Amical Cabral. If you agree with the view points expressed above or if you merely want to have further discussion of these points, then join us immediately or get in touch with us immediately.
If we fight we can win, if we don't, we have lost.
The struggle continues.
I am resolutely committed to and will fight for the following programmes within the NUT and the entire labour movement in general:
* Adequate funding of education sector. For the complete rehabilitation of the system through provision of more and well equipped classrooms, hostels, cafeteria, libraries, laboratories, etc.
* Democratic management of schools with decision-making bodies and committees comprising elected representatives of teachers, non-teaching staffs, parents and students.
* Establishment of a Teachers Representative Councils made of democratically elected classroom teachers as well as all other stakeholders in the NUT, to oversee the affairs of the NUT and report adequately to all teachers. All elected representatives shall be subject to recall.
* A labour leadership with a vision and commitment to build a political platform with a view to remove from powers the Obasanjo’s capitalist government and not one which operates on the basis of an unprincipled collaboration with this unrepentant and irredeemable anti-poor, anti-working class government that has ever ruled Nigeria.
* Fight against privatisation and commercialisation of education.
* Fight against retrenchment and for the recall of all retrenched teachers
* Fight for the right to gainful employment. A job for every individual
* A monthly minimum wage of N20, 000 with regular increases to match the rate of inflation.
* Unemployment benefits not below the minimum wage for every unemployed person - In the final analysis, unemployment amounts to reduction in the income of the employed since the reserve army of the unemployed will largely depend on their employed parents or relatives for survival.
* Prompt payment of pensions and gratuities with pensions not being lower than the minimum wage.
* Fight against corruption and mismanagement in the public service and public corporations normally used to justify privatisation and commercialisation.
* For workers' democratic control and management of the public schools as well as all other public service and public corporations.
* A massive public works programme to provide houses, schools, hospitals, road, railways, electricity, etc and to generate employment.
* An end to IMF inspired SAP with its attendant privatisation and commercialisation policies. Public ownership of the commanding sectors of the economy under workers' democratic control and management.
* Opposition to the proposed Obasanjo trade union amendment bill and all anti-workers laws and decrees. Full independence for the trade unions
* Multi-party democracy with guaranteed rights of individuals, workers and groups to form political parties without government registration/approval and the right to independent candidates.
* An independent mass working people's political party with a socialist programme to provide an alternative to the present rot.