ERC OPEN LETTER TO NANS ZONE-D LEADERSHIP ON WAVE OF FEE-HIKES AND NEED FOR AN IMMEDIATE ACTION
ERC OPEN LETTER TO NANS ZONE-D LEADERSHIP ON WAVE OF FEE-HIKES AND NEED FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION
ï¶ FOR A DAY LECTURE BOYCOTT AND MASS PROTEST!
The current wave of fee hikes in the country, rapidly spreading in the South West especially, has further worsened the general conditions of Nigerian students. Various administrations of tertiary institutions, in connivance with various anti-poor governments at national and state levels, are hell bent on holding poor parents and innocent students responsible for the irresponsibility and failure of these governments in adequately funding education at all levels, in spite of the enormous wealth of the country.
While the resistance of students against this obnoxious policy has been quite commendable, the limitation of independent union actions is too obvious as they have so far proved incapable of fully winning the demands for total reversal of fees and improved funding of education. This is particularly exemplified by the reaction of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) management to the organised resistance of students against an outrageous, fraudulent increment in fees. The management of this university simply closed down the university to frustrate the struggle.
At the Lagos State University (LASU) for instance, students have been fighting since January this year for reversal of their hiked fees. As a result of their tenacious struggle, the state government has conceded a little reduction which does not satisfy all students and many are willing to continue to fight. For this to happen, they will require the solidarity of all Nigerian students. The immense efforts of LASU, OAU and students at the Tai Solarin University of Education (TASUED) at resisting the wave of fee hike will be wasted if the NANS Zone D fails to act now. More than this, authorities of various institutions are using successful hike in fees in one institution to justify criminal hike of fees in their various schools.
Arising from this, the need for an organised action starting from the South West zone of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), aggregating the demands of various unions and organising joint and united mass actions to back them, cannot be overemphasized. We in the ERC therefore call on the NANS Zone D to declare a day of lecture boycott and mass actions across the South West to begin this campaign. Compared to the independent and spontaneous struggles breaking out in institutions in southwest, an organised action of the zonal leadership will reach a wider audience and mount substantial pressure on the recalcitrant governments and authorities of institutions to halt the maddening rush to price education out of the reach of the working and poor people. This can also set a shining example for students of other zones to follow thus putting pressure on the national leadership of NANS to equally act. This is important especially because the wave of fee hike is not restricted to the South West, and because only the united national actions of all Nigerian students backed by solidarity of the trade unions and the entire working masses can fully win the struggle to save public education.
Of course, some institutions seem peaceful with no immediate fee hike policy to battle against, but no institution has lesser anti-students’ conditions and policies confronting its populace of studentry. These policies often range from lack of learning infrastructures and victimisation of students, to inhumane conditions of living for students, and various exploitative and repressive policies. Furthermore, students of public polytechnics have been at home for a year now and their colleagues in the Colleges of Education have been at home for five months due to strikes by the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) and the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU). Likewise in Osun State, students of all the four state-owned tertiary institutions have been at home for months due to strikes by the academic staff.
Moreover, an organised resistance of NANS will send appropriate message to authorities of institutions who are planning to hike school fees. Already, Committee of Pro-Chancellors are demanding introduction of tuition fees in universities. For the record, tuition fee was abolished by the Babangida regime in the early 1990s, as a concession to gigantic struggle of Nigerian students under NANS against education commercialization, and military rule. Of course, in various institutions, fees have been increased so enormously that the idea of free tuition has been bastardized. But the boldness of authorities to demand the reversal of gain of Nigerian students’ struggle, through the quest to introduce tuition fee require organised pressure from Nigerian students through NANS. NANS Zone D, with its radical history has the responsibility to lead in this direction.
Hence, the leadership of the Zone D must stand firm at this historic juncture to mobilise and organise Nigerian students to resist anti-students’ policies and demand for humane and proper learning conditions as well as the meeting of the demands of all striking unions so that schools can be reopened.
In fact, considering the entrenched nature of this crisis, the organised actions of NANS must not be limited to just a day of action. Instead efforts must be made to have organised actions ranging from media campaigns, mass leafleting, rallies, protest marches, etc. For us in the ERC, the forthcoming zonal congress of NANS should serve as an avenue to formulate these actions and mobilise for their implementation.
We hope the leadership of NANS Zone D recognises the exigency tone of the situation, and we hope it take immediate steps to immensely contribute to saving Nigerian students and public education from ruinous but incessant attacks from various tiers of government. For us in the ERC, we assure the zone our support and unflinching solidarity in this struggle.
ALUTA CONTINUAâ€¦ VICTORIA ASCERTA
Hassan Taiwo Soweto
All Joint Campus Committees (JCC) of NANS Zone D
All Students Unions
All Social Media Platforms