Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM





The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) strongly condemns the refusal of the Federal Government to meet the demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). It is this refusal that has led to the extension of the current strike into a total and comprehensive indefinite strike. For us in the ERC, there is nowhere to drop the blame for the extension of this strike other than on the door-step of the Buhari anti-poor capitalist government that has woefully failed to take all necessary steps to meet the demands of ASUU. This is because no serious government would fold it hands while the doors of schools are shut to millions of its citizens.

Please recall that the strike which started on February 14 was initially a warning strike and was only extended, first by 8 weeks, until more extensions were made, due to the refusal of the government to take seriously the demands of ASUU. These demands fundamentally border on the proper funding of the education sector and the need to adopt the recommended University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) for payment of salaries, better pay for lecturers, amongst others.

Today, the crisis bedeviling the education sector has deepened, necessary facilities to aid teaching and learning are either absent or in decrepit condition. It is criminal and cruel for any government to continue to look away while the education sector remains in such pathetic condition. While we appreciate that another extension of this strike is painful to students and parents, the only way to ensure this strike comes to an end is to support the agitations of ASUU and force the government to a retreat from its path to destroy public education. In the Education Rights Campaign (ERC), we stand with the agitations of ASUU and enjoin students, the Nigerian masses, pro-masses organizations and trade unions to express their support through protests and other forms of political action to ensure the demands of ASUU are met.

For us in the Education Rights Campaign (ERC), the FG’s intimidation tactics like the ‘no work no pay’ rule and threat to proscribe ASUU are bound to fail. In our opinion, the Federal Government has no moral credibility to impose the “No Work, No Pay” rule because the strike embarked upon by ASUU from 14 February 2022 was forced on the union due to the Federal Government’s persistent violation of previous agreements especially the 23rd December 2020 Memorandum of Action, shifting of goal posts and lack of sincerity in its engagement with the union. How can an employer who is the cause of his workers not working lay claim to ‘no work, no pay’? It is simply eating ones cake and trying to still have it back. If successfully implemented this will mean that government, in its usual nonchalant manner, can continue to throw any agreement with unions into the dustbin or even deliberately cause unions to embark on strike with the intention of accruing funds into its pocket through it.

This is more so that the Buhari government further provoked the extension of the strike by deliberately violating the principle of collective bargaining with its arbitrary imposition of paltry and insulting salary award – something it has been peddling as a fulfillment of the demands of the ASUU.

As a response to these intimidation tactics especially the threat to proscribe ASUU, we again reiterate our call on the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to declare a 48-hour warning general strike and nationwide mass protest. This will send a clear note of warning to the capitalist ruling elite that ASUU is not alone.

In the same vein, we condemn the Asefon-led leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) for its support of the dubious ‘no-work no-pay’ policy that the government is trying to force down the throat of ASUU. What Asefon and his gang of misnamed student leaders in the NANS leadership are doing is a clear disservice to Nigerian students and a deviation from the radical traditions of NANS. Ever since the commencement of this strike, the Asefon leadership has made no attempt to mobilize students for action to force the government to accede to the demands of ASUU swiftly. Even when students took independent initiative of mass protest, the Asefon leadership alienated itself from mass of students.

In the ERC, we shall continue to raise the demand for the proper funding of the education sector and its democratic management. The underfunding of education by the Nigerian ruling class is a deliberate act to undermine public education and pave the way for private profiteers. This is already playing out. A major lesson that the ongoing ASUU strike teaches is that the capitalist system that places profit of a few over the well-being of the mass majority cannot ensure a free and quality education for all despite the presence of resources to do so. This is why students and workers must link their struggle to defend public education with the building of a political movement to end the system of capitalism and replace it with a socialist system.

Ogunjimi Isaac Ayobami

ERC Deputy National Coordinator

Adaramoye Michael Lenin

ERC National Mobilisation Officer

ERC email: [email protected]