Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM


Delta State


Students of the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun, Delta State (FUPRE) on Wednesday, September 21, 2011 protested against underfunding and neglect of the institution by the government. The protesting students occupied the East-West road by the University Gate, near Agbarho for several hours. Basically, the demands of students include: adequate funding, recruitment of adequate staff, adequate facilities as well as expedient efforts geared towards ensuring accreditation of all the courses offered in the institution.

The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) supports the FUPRE students in exercising their democratic rights to peaceful protests as well as in their demands for their right to quality education. The ERC also condemns the attempts by the Prof. Babatunde Alabi-led management of the university to frustrate the protest and undermining the students’ right to peaceful assemblage by militarizing the campus on the day of the protest and preventing students from entering the campus.

The ERC commends the students who turned out en masse for the protest which shows their overwhelming disappointment at the current realities and their willingness to struggle, even though the preparation and organization leading to the protest was generally lacking in clear tactics and slogans to employ. Meanwhile, whereas the protest could be adjudged to be successful, at least, to the extent of students participation and drawing public attention to the deplorable conditions in the institution, there are no doubt, lessons to be learnt from the exercise even as it is hoped that the struggle will be sustained and intensified.

First, for the struggle to be sustained and yield the expected results, it immediately needs a clear sense of direction and leadership. However in the period prior to, during and after the protest, one thing that was generally lacking was leadership. And this explains why many of the seemingly uncoordinated slogans and divided opinions that accompanied the protest were so. This again explains why students must more than ever before demand the immediate conducting of elections into the proposed Students Union. However, there is also the need to set up a committee to plan and organize the struggle pending when the elections are conducted. Such a committee should be able to organize students, draw up programs of actions and organizing students with a view to sustaining the struggle as well as collaborating with staff unions on campus for the purpose of solidarity, struggle and advancement of education.

While we recognize lecture boycott as a very useful tool for a struggle like this, such boycotts would only yield results if premised on a well thought-out strategy. Merely boycotting lectures without backing such actions up with mass activities like rallies, protest marches, leafleting, etc may not necessarily yield desired results!

It is also important to stress that the crisis at FUPRE is not peculiar to the institution alone. Education in Nigeria today is generally notorious for underfunding and decay, from primary to the tertiary levels! Therefore, the FUPRE struggle must be properly linked with the ERC and ASUU national campaigns and struggles for increased funding of education to at least 26% of the government’s budget. In the absence of a fighting and virile national student body as the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has become moribund, we also call on Students Unions from the different campuses across the nation to join in solidarity for this struggle. Also, campus activists and students unionists must learn to collaborate with ASUU, NASU, SSANU etc in the struggle for better education in Nigeria. One effective way of doing this is to show solidarity with the aforementioned unions during strikes, public rallies, protests etc. This is particularly needed if the struggle against a government that is determined to commercialize education beyond the means and reach of the poor and working masses of Nigeria must be won.

By Emmanuel Ohwojeheri
ERC, Warri