Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

LASU CRISIS: Cancel the Current Fees; Reopen the School Now

Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) PRESS STATEMENT

LASU CRISIS: Cancel the Current Fees; Reopen the School Now

All Students Must Write Exams!

The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) holds that the Lagos state APC government with its anti-poor policies is responsible for the current crisis at the Lagos State University (LASU) that has led to its closure by the management. This latest closure has come just a few weeks after the university was reopened following the end of 6-month strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). The students who could not pay school fees on time went on protest after they were denied opportunity to write examinations even when many of them had struggled to raise the outrageous fees. According to reports, 1,292 students were affected by closure of registration exercise because of their inability to pay on time. It should be recalled that the school fee of this university was astronomically increased from N25,000 to a regime of fees ranging from N193,750 to N348,750 depending on courses in September 2011. We demand the immediate reversal of these outrageous school fees which are beyond the reach of students from poor and working class background. All students must be allowed to register and write the examinations.

We also demand the immediate reopening of the university without payment of reparation by students. No student must be victimized on account of the crisis. The management of the university led by Prof John Obafunwa should be held responsible for the degeneration of the crisis because of its brutal insensitivity to the plight of the affected students out of rabid compliance to the anti-poor policy thrust of the APC Fashola-led government of Lagos. Rather, adequate medical attention and compensation should be paid to the students who were seriously injured from vicious repression of the protest by the armed police invited by the management.

The University’s Vice chancellor Prof. Obafunwa is so blind to the reality of daily struggle for survival by the average Lagosian and difficulty of raising such huge amount of money as he was reported to have accused the students who could not pay of choosing to be negligent and, according to him, “that was why they failed to pay and register” (Vanguard, January 25, 2014). Many parents have to borrow or sell properties in order to pay these obnoxious school fees. But for Obafunwa, “the question is ‘do we really want a new LASU?” (Vanguard, January 25, 2014). In other words, the new LASU is one that does not have place for children of the poor and working class parents. This explains why the government is charging as high as N350, 000 for University education in a state where the minimum wage is N18,000!

Indeed, what LASU crisis has further underscored is the vacuity and falsehood of the claim of the APC to being a progressive party. The university owned by Lagos state government being showcased as the model of governance by the APC charges the highest school fees at any public university in Nigeria. This and other anti-poor policies and conducts of the Lagos state government are parts of the reasons that the APC must not been taken by the working masses as a genuine alternative to the equally anti-poor PDP it is desperate to replace in power. Unfortunately, there is no party that represents the interest and aspiration of the working people. The Labour Party formed by NLC is now essentially a surrogate political platform of PDP and a trashcan of anti-poor politicians who could not get the tickets in PDP or APC. The working people must work and strive for formation of their own party while contending and resisting the anti-poor neo-liberal capitalist attacks. This is why the SPN is seeking official registration with INEC in order to represent the interests of the working masses within and outside political offices while campaigning and working for a mass working people party on socialist program.

We of the SPN strongly hold that there are enough resources to adequately fund not only LASU but also the public education at all levels. The problem is the anti-poor policies of the government and self-serving interest of the political office holders who pay themselves and hangers-on jumbo salaries and allowances at the expense of the poor in the state.

We call on the staff unions (ASUU, SSANU, NASU, etc) and students’ union of LASU to organise a joint platform of actions against the outrageous fees which have already adversely affected the annual enrolment of students and threatened the jobs of staffs. The total population of LASU students at present is about 13,000 which is a sharp drop from over 20,000 which it used to be before the new fees regime was introduced in 2011. Indeed, given the relative low number of students that applies to the university or picks up the offer of admission in the last two sessions as a result of the high fees the figure will further plunge by the time those currently in 300 and 400 levels graduate. This will give the government which is already talking of restructuring the excuse of scrapping of some academic program and departments and sacking education workers, both teaching and non-teaching. We therefore call on labour and pro-masses’ organizations to show interest in development in LASU by initiating sustained mass campaign and activities to fight for cancellation of the current regime of fees. This must go with the demand for adequate funding of the university by the government side by side with the enthronement of democratic control of resources by the committee of elected representatives of education workers and students who are subject to recall by their electors in order to ensure judicious allocation and spending.

Segun Sango
National Chairperson
Chinedu Bosah
National Secretary
E-mail: [email protected]