WE COMMEND THE DECISION OF THE NLC TO EMBARK ON A TWO-DAY NATIONAL PROTEST OVER THE LINGERING ASUU STRIKE – IT IS LONG OVERDUE!
* WE WARN AGAINST SUSPENSION OF PROTEST WITHOUT ACHIEVING DEMANDS
* WE URGE STUDENTS AND PRO-MASSES ORGANISATIONS TO MOBILIZE AND JOIN THE MASS PROTEST
We of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) welcome the decision of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to embark on a two-day national protest on 26 and 27 July 2022 to force the government to meet the demands of ASUU and other University unions. Although coming very late, it is a step in the right direction. The ERC has been at the forefront of calling on NLC and TUC to embark on a series of mass actions to defend public education from the claws of the capitalist ruling class who are hell-bent on not just ruining it but also taking it out of the reach of children of the working masses.
We hereby urge the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to align with the position of the NLC and mobilise out its members to jointly prosecute the two-day national protest. The ERC also call on Nigerian students, students unions, radical students groups, NANS and civil society organisations to answer the call of the NLC by mobilizing to join organized labour on 26 and 27 July 2022 for the protest. To draw in as many forces as possible and to ensure active mobilization, the ERC urges the NLC to direct its state councils to convene state planning meetings within the next few days.
At the same time, we call for the independent preparation of the mass of students, parents and well-meaning Nigerians for the July 26 and 27 protests. In the event that the NLC calls off the protest before the set date, as is their usual practice, we ask that students, parents, education workers and workers generally should go on to protest independently for the reopening of schools and to make the federal government yield to the demands of the public university unions. To achieve this, we ask students, parents and workers across all states to start organizing independent protest committees that can work with the NLC state councils to organize the protest while remaining independent of it.
While we consider NLC’s decision to embark on a protest in the right direction, we equally warn against late-minute suspension of the protest without any democratic discussion or any concrete resolution of the crisis. We make this point against the background of the constant suspension of strikes and mass action by NLC without any resolution of the crisis the action was intended to resolve. For instance, in January this year the NLC and TUC declared a protest over the planned removal of fuel subsidy only to call it off at the eleventh hour. A similarthing happened in 2020, when the NLC called off its planned strike scheduled to commence on September 28 that year.
If this protest is successful, it can send a clear warning to the capitalist elite however far more would be required to win victory. This is because the President Buhari APC government appears to recognize that conceding to the demands of public university unions may provoke a contagion of demands for wage review and sundry issues across the labour movement especially in the context of economic crisis, inflation and worsening living standards. Therefore we urge the NLC and TUC to begin to prepare for a 48 hour general strike as the next stage after the July 26 and 27 national protest.
In addition, the ERC holds that there is a need for a summit on the ASUU strike and the deteriorating state of public education. Such a summit is to be constituted by pro-masses’ organisations, the trade unions, students’ unions and professional bodies like the NBA. Such a conference must be used to deliberate on the way forward and map out line of actions beyond the planned protest by NLC.
In the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) it is our clear belief that the crisis bedeviling the education sector requires proper funding of the sector at all levels. While we call for proper funding of the education sector, we also demand democratic management of institutions. By democratic management of institutions, we mean that students and workers play active role in the decision making organs of tertiary institutions through elected representatives of the unions. This may not be achieved without a struggle by the working masses, youth and students to wrest power from the capitalist ruling class and establish a socialist society where resources are democratically owned and managed by the working masses to meet the aspiration of Nigerians for free and quality education, decent quality of life and a better society.
ERC Deputy National Coordinator
Adaramoye Michael Lenin
ERC National Secretary
ERC email: [email protected]