Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM



By Ismail Aderemi

It was a victory for the radical wing of the student movement and students who desire break from the general right wing tendency. In the recently conducted elections of the Lagos State University Students Union (LASUSU), Com. Ewebiyi Keye James contested and won the position of the General Secretary of the union.

Keye won the election with with 1,550 votes while his runner-up (Ajeboriogbon) polled 1,216 votes. Specifically, Keye won in seven out of the nine faculties with the exception of Arts (Ajeboriogbon’s faculty) and Communication. In fact, in Management Sciences, the faculty of Rada, one of his challengers, Keye scored 270 votes while Rada and Ajiebonriogbon had 96 and 145 respectively. Remarkably, across the various faculties, it was widely agreed that Keye was not only popular, but also has a superior ideological base and more pro-students manifesto which gave him an edge over his opponents.

Keye is a member of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) and Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM). He was the only candidate who stood on a radical manifesto, one of the major factors that led to his victory. He is very active in the struggles of workers and students in the university. Another factor that endeared students to Keye was because he has been playing major role in revitalizing student activities in his faculty when he was the General Secretary and also the editor of different journals on campus. He is also well renown for being the compiler of very useful education materials on some special courses undertaken by a good number of students in the university.

Keye ran on this program: (1) to open up the union and democratize it such that students can participating more in the union activities such as congresses, rallies, symposiums etc., (2) to campaign for free and quality public funded education at all levels, (3) to campaign for the upgrade facilities in the university, (4) to campaign against fees hike and education commercialisation, (5) to forge a more united and working relationship with the workers unions, (6) to campaign against neo-liberal policies and for the nationalization of the commanding height of the economy under workers democratic control, (7) to defend students whom are academically and politically victimised.

A large layer of students can easily relate with the program because they are issues that can advance the cause of education and interest of students and workers, while most of other candidates including those that won other positions only campaigned on vague and catch-word slogans like ‘dynamic candidate’, ‘harmonious relationship between students and management’ etc.

Accreditation and voting started in many faculties as early as 09.30am, and lasted till about 1:00pm. Many students could not vote because of their inability to bring Course Registration Forms or Students Identity Cards, a requirement stipulated by the electoral committee and published less than 24hours to the elections. Besides, there was another rule that eligible voters will not exceed 500 voters per faculty, yet most of the faculty had far more than 500 willing to vote. The candidates for the offices of Social Director, Legal Director, Sports Director and Treasurer were elected or returned unopposed; the remaining six offices- Presidency, Vice Presidency, General Secretary, UBLIC Relations Officer, Welfare Director and Financial Secretary were keenly contested. 5 candidates contested the presidency, while 3 jostled for the office of the General Secretary, the remaining 4 offices had 2 contestants each.

i. While the conduct of the elections was generally peaceful and fair, it is imperative that the following issues among others that were noticed in the build-up to the elections should addressed:

ii. That the aspiring candidates were asked to pay as much as between N7000 and N10, 000 to procure election forms, thereby making it extremely difficult for poor students to aspire for any of the positions. This heavy monetization of students’ union election can also drive most of the winners to want to recoup their investment by being receptive to bribes from the management and the government.

iii. That restricting the number of voters to 500 per faculty in itself is a way of disenfranchising students.

iv. Similarly, the Electoral Committee should subsequently publish the requirements for elections which should be well debated at the students’ congresses and parliaments before the electioneering process starts.

v. All electoral committee expenses should always come from the union purse so that candidates are not meant to bear the cost.

Keye will raise all of these issues in the Union Executive Committee meeting with the aim to resolving them. Moreover, the students of LASU have witnessed a great setback in terms of non-functional leadership and leaders who patronize politicians, the state and management, an act that undermines the interest of students. For a long time, Lagos State University Students’ Union like in most campuses have been peopled with right wing, pro-management/state individuals and that explains the general rot in the students union.

Keye, as a radical member of the union will use his position to agitate for student interests, promote the solidarity of students with struggles of workers within and outside the campus, build ERC and DSM in LASU alongside other comrades, and use that to deepen the struggle for an independent fighting union and link the struggle on campus to the general struggle of the working people for improved living standard and basic needs.