Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM



By Wole Olubanji

DSM OAU Branch

Arising from the boycott of lectures by mass of students on December 5, 2012, the struggle for the restoration of banned Students Union at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) won a concession. This came in the form of a Students Transition Committee (STC) set up by the University authorities with the mandate to organise elections into a union. However this by no means signifies the end of the struggle.

Despite the undemocratic process through which the STC was formed, the DSM fully supports its mandate to organise elections into a properly constituted students union. As students resume into a new academic session, they should demand this committee to begin to fulfill this mandate by drawing up a timetable for election and setting up the electoral commission and all other committees necessary for the immediate conduct of a democratic and free election into an independent students union.

Several radical groups and activists on campus were active in the campaign to restore the union. Members of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) and the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) played vital roles in this campaign. The campaign commenced over two years ago. Sequence of leafletting, symposia and conscious agitations finally culminated into a massive protest at the early hours of 1st December 2012. The attack on activists invited to speak at the ERC symposium held on the same day acted as the spark igniting the spontaneous protest and eventually a boycott five days later. Authorities, taken by surprise by the sudden turn of events, had no choice but to try to placate the movement with the STC.

We must warn that without a resumption of struggle to compel the STC, the management will find a way to wriggle out of their promise to restore the union. As an evidence of management’s insincerity, few weeks after the STC was formed, many of the activists who played roles in the campaign were issued query letters with threats of victimisation. Left to the management, the union should not be restored. This is because the authorities plan to increase fees, especially accommodation fees, this new academic session and they understand that an independent union could be an obstacle.

The looming fee increment is a policy radical organisations must lead students to resist and seek the support of the staff unions in the struggle. Even before the University vacated, students had promised the University that such plans would be greeted with mass resistance. The management was thus compelled to deny the plan. But now the story has changed, students must be prepared to fight which is why pushing for immediate elections into a democratic and independent union is very crucial now. Any fee hike would definitely mean further hardship for students and poor working class parents. This is understood by students who do not want to bear the brunt of the capitalist neo-liberal attacks on public education.

As we resume into a new session, we urge the mass of students to begin to pile pressure on the STC by rekindling the demand for the immediate conduct of elections in accordance to the constitution of the OAU Students Union. Students must only not fight for restoration of the students union but also ensure the emergence of a radical leadership that could lead struggle against fee hike, fight for living and learning conditions conducive for quality education, defend the rights and interests of students, solidarise with education workers in their struggles. Such leadership should also link the struggle on the campus to the general struggle of the working people against all anti-poor capitalist policies.

We on our part in the DSM and ERC will embark on public mass activities like leafletting, symposia and rallies to put back clearly on the agenda the urgent need for the STC to begin to fulfill its mandate. We enjoin students to join us so that collectively we can fight not only to win back the union but also to resist all anti-poor policies and link with the working class struggle to defeat capitalism.