Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM




Keye Ewebiyi, Member Education Rights Campaign (ERC)

Students of Lagos state-owned tertiary institutions staged a peaceful protest around Lagos Metropolis on Wednesday 8 and Thursday 9 December, 2010 to compel the Babatunde Raji Fashola-led Lagos state government to implement the 2009 agreement reached with the staff unions in order to put an end to the lingering strike in their schools. Since the strike commenced about three months ago, the state government had maintained its hard-line stance of not meeting the workers’ demands.

The right wing students’ union leadership of these tertiary institutions, particularly the Lagos State University, had been under pressure from students to carry out one action or another. But all the while they have been running away from public protest and other forms of struggle because of their relationship with the state government. The students’ union leadership apparently has to do something in order to save face and to remain in control since students have started taking independent actions and initiatives, including activities by members of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) such as the distribution of leaflets in public and addressing a press conference.

The students from Lagos State University (LASU), Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH), Michael Otedola College of Education (MOCPED) and Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education (AOCOED) numbering about 200 armed with placards and leaflets were conveyed in a big bus, while stoppages were made at populous areas in Lagos like Mile 2 (a popular motor park), Oshodi (a popular market) and Ikeja (the state capital) to address the public and distribute leaflets.

In the leaflets issued, the students demand that the state government should immediately implement the 2009 agreement for academic activities to return to their campuses. They also made a call to all Lagosians; youth, traders, workers, businessmen and women to compel the state government to meet the demands of their striking lecturers. The south-west leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) also participated in the protest. In the leaflet issued by NANS, the association called on the state government to commence the process of re-gaining accreditation for the courses de-accredited in LASU via massive investment and provision of infrastructural facilities.

There was a mild drama at Ikeja when a policeman shot at the students with the intention to disperse the protest. Though no casualty was recorded, the students reacted with rage and anger, such that if not for the intervention of onlookers they would have launched a physical attack on the policemen within that area. It was later gathered that policemen were already stationed around the state secretariat, Alausa-Ikeja, with the intention to scare students away if they planned staging a protest there.

In all, the protest was a huge success. Ordinary artisans and workers strongly expressed their support for the strike while also berating the anti-poor policies and programmes of the Fashola-led government; some members of the public were angry at the continued closure of the tertiary institutions.

Though, we commend the students for protesting, the protests lack proper mobilization and organisation, which is the reason why there has not been any planned program of action to sustain the struggle.

More mass actions, demonstrations, leafleting and media campaign will be needed in the coming period to compel this impervious anti-student government to meet the demands of the striking workers. There is a need for a more organized joint solidarity action of students, parents and education workers to prosecute this struggle.