Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

LAUTECH CRISIS: Students Must Fight For Restoration of Banned Union

LAUTECH CRISIS: Students Must Fight For Restoration of Banned Union

By H.T Soweto, National Coordinator, Education Rights Campaign (ERC)

That Lautech is enmeshed in crisis is perhaps an understatement. For some years now, the University has entered a deadlock over the crisis of ownership between Osun and Oyo States. On top of this, students of the University are facing serious attacks from the University Management. Fees were recently hiked this session from N40, 000 to N105, 000!

The crisis of ownership particularly had forced many of students to a state of fear, apprehension and desperation as they are unsure of what will become of their certificate eventually if the feud is not resolved as soon as possible. Secondly, the over 1000% fee increment has further compounded students’ desperation and frustration.

As we write, the Students’ Union of the University has been proscribed while the Union president, Adeniji Idowu has been suspended over a crisis that occurred between students and okada riders of the host town, Ogbomosho, on Wednesday 9 March 2011. Over 60 students of the University were subsequently arrested and detained at the Iyaganku Police Station in Ibadan. Many more were beaten and brutally injured by over 500 trigger-happy policemen who stormed the University and student residential areas with amoured tank on Thursday 10 March and Friday 11 March 2011 ostensibly to halt the violent clash. In the process, students’ properties were looted; many female students brutalized as the trigger-happy policemen forcefully barged into students’ hostels.

To start with, the responsibility for this crisis must be placed at the doorstep of the University Management and its practice of non-residential University campus system coupled with its anti-students policies. We believe it is this practice, alien to the standards of a global University system, which State governments across Nigeria introduced sometimes in the late 80s in order to cut cost that is responsible for the occurrence of violent clashes between students and host communities.

However, the recent crisis has helped to reveal to the general public that the University is falling to pieces as a result of the lingering ownership feud between the Oyo and Osun State government and the consequential abandon of students’ and staff’s welfare. It is only by resolving all these fundamental crises as well as reversing the astronomical fee hike that the University can be returned to its original state of peace and tranquility. However, the two state governments are not sincere in their feud over the ownership of LAUTECH. For them, the question of ownership is not to ensure adequate funding of education and improvement in the quality of education in LAUTECH rather; the aim is to give full access to only one state to exploit LAUTECH students by increasing fees as well as in terms of having influence on the affairs of the university. Both State governments have poor records of education funding considering the enormous degeneration, in terms of teaching facilities and astronomical fees, of tertiary institutions in their care.

Unfortunately, the Students’ Union leadership has not been doing much to mobilize students in protest against the fee hike and for improvement in learning conditions on campus. Instead, some members of the Union leadership were busy supporting one gubernatorial aspirant or the other in the last April 2011 elections. This is a betrayal of students who elected them. However, students must organize to put pressure on the Union leadership to fight. Students must demand an immediate congress as a basis to draw up a fighting program to resist the fee hike, demand resolution of the ownership conflict, building of cheap and conducive student hostels and adequate funding of the University. This program should include symposia, rallies, media campaign, one-day lecture boycotts, protests and demonstrations. Most importantly too, the solidarity and involvement of staff unions must be sought as a basis of building a collaboration for joint struggle. It is only by fighting along this line that LAUTECH students can rescue the University from the crisis it is currently enmeshed.