Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

Ongoing Public Universities Workers Strikes

Ongoing Public Universities Workers Strikes

ERC Holds Protests and Actions on October 1

The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) has declared October 1, 2009 as a Day of Action to protest attacks on public education and press home the demand on government to sign and implement agreements it has entered with the striking workers in the public universities in Nigeria. October 1st, during which the Nigerian ruling class will celebrate their years of looting while the mass of the nation marks 49 years of flag independence, will witness mass protests in Lagos and Benin, Edo State and other public activities in some other parts of the country like mass circulation of fliers in Abuja, the Nation’s capital.

For the past three months students of public universities have been forced out of classrooms following the industrial actions embarked upon by all the staff unions viz. Academic Staff Union of Universities, (ASUU), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and National Association of Academic Technicians (NAAT).

This will be the second mass protest the ERC has organized in less than two months. We held a successful mass action in Lagos on August 10. We were also active in the mass protest organized by Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO) in solidarity with striking workers on July 14. Since the strike actions have started in June the ERC has produced and circulated well over 100, 000 materials (leaflets, posters and fliers) across the country. For the October 1 protest we are working in collaboration with National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) Zone D, Coalition of Radical Students Union (CORASU), Nigerian Youths in Motion (NYM), other radical unions and groups.

However, the October 1st action is a prelude to a protest march in Abuja and the National Assembly in Abuja once the legislatures resume from recess.

The press conference held on September 22 to declare the Day of Action was covered by over 20 media organizations and has been widely reported in both print and electronic media.

The conference availed the ERC the opportunity to react to the recent blackmail and attempt by the Federal Government to criminalize the students’ struggle by apparently inventing an attempt to kidnap the Education Minister, Sam Egwu, and Minister of Labour, Adetokunbo Kayode, allegedly by 3 undergraduates to compel the Federal Government to resolve the on-going strike. ERC reiterated its commitment to the struggle, stating that mass actions including protests and demonstrations remain the genuine method of struggle.

Despite various demonstrations waged almost on daily basis by students and workers unions, the Yar’Adua government has continued to maintain its hardline stance on the strike. The ERC has been calling for the concerted efforts of all workers unions in education sector and student bodies through the formation of a Joint Action Committee on campuses and communities as well as solidarity strike action by the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress in order to defeat the government and save education from imminent collapse.

The demands of the protest include:

  • (1) For the Federal Government to sign and implement all agreements reached with ASUU, SSANU, NASU and NAAT for students to resume.
  • (2) No to the proposed N180, 000 fee increment. Cancel all fees including the exorbitant law school fees.
  • (3) For the Federal Government to pay N40, 000 Cost of Studying Allowance (COSA) to all Nigerian students.
  • (4) Funding of education up to 26% of budget.
  • (5) Provision of free, functional and compulsory education at all levels.
  • (6) Democratisation of the education sector with the involvement of representatives of staff and students unions in all decision making organs.
  • (7) Recall of all victimized students/staff activists and restoration of all banned unions.
  • (8) Public ownership of the commanding heights of the economy under democratic control and management of the working masses.