Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM



Potential for mass student platform

Various activities to observe the Day of Action against neo-liberal attack on public education declared by Education Rights Campaign (ERC) were held in Lagos, Osun, Oyo, Ekiti, Edo, Delta and River States on July 16, 2008.

The Day of Action, which had also been organized in previous years, was part of activities of ERC in its campaign for public funded education with adequate facilities and rights of Nigerians to quality education and democratic rights of students. The ERC has taken the campaign upon itself as the traditional organization of students, NANS, has qualitatively degenerated and been totally disconnected from the interests and rights of students, nay the poor masses.

In Lagos about 30 students and youth activists from Unilag, Yaba Tech, Unilorin, UNAD, LASU, Ajegunle, Agege, etc gathered at the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Secretariat Yaba Lagos for the rally before embarking on about one-quarter kilometre protest march to Ojuelegba.

Speaking at the rally covered by five media organisations were Abiodun Aremu, the Convener, United Action for Democracy (UAD), Chinedu Bosah, Secretary ERC and Oloyede Usman, PRO National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) Zone D.

Biodun Aremu argued that free and quality public funded education is possible on the basis of huge resources at the disposal of the government but the problem is the capitalist neo-liberal economic policies. He called on students and youths to build a fighting organisation like ERC on campuses and communities in order to be able to defend rights to quality education. He also urged students and youths to join all the popular struggles against the thieving, anti-poor capitalist government at all levels.

The protesters embarked on procession with banner, placards and leaflet to Ojuelegba where the action was ended with speeches from ERC and NANS Zone D activists. There was a call on the ERC to make the Day of Action an annual event and to be held preferably on campuses.

The rally lined up in Osogbo could not be held because of the fierce security presence in the city to forestall any protest against the election tribunal ruling delivered on July 15 or any policy of the Oyinlola government. Campuses in the state were closed by the government in order to prevent participation of students in the state in the day of action. In deed, the government official who announced the closure made a veiled reference to the ERC rally while warning parents against allowing their children or wards to participate in any protest.

The Day of Action came at an auspicious time in the state. The government had announced over 500% increase in fees of all the State Institutions. In effect, students who have been finding it difficult to pay about N3, 000 are now to pay from N20, 000 to N51, 000! Besides, out of 7 institutions in the state, only 2 have students union and a number of student activists are politically victimized across the state.

The union leadership and Joint Campus Committee gave in to the blackmail of the state that they were being sponsored by the AC and backed out of the action. Therefore, the ERC opted for a press conference and submission of protest letter against fees hike and attacks on students union and activists at the State House of Assembly.

Elsewhere in Oyo, Ekiti, Delta, Edo and River States, the ERC activists and supporters could only embark on posting of posters and circulation of leaflets on the campaign.

We of the ERC are committed to sustaining the campaign by striving to reach out to wider and wider layers of Nigerian students and building a mass based student movement that could defend the interest and rights of the Nigeria student to publicly funded quality education and participate in all popular and daily struggles of poor working masses.