Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM


ERC calls for the Constitution of Action Committee for an Effective Planning and Coordination of a Fight back

The attention of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC), University of Ibadan branch has been drawn to different outrageous figures of school fees recently displayed on the portal of the university’s new intakes for the 2023/24 academic session. The new fees, as seen in the portals, range from N230,000 to N412,000 depending on the courses. Therefore, this represents between 453% and 750% hike in the school fee charged for the 2022/23 academic session which ranged from N64,600 to N69,600.

The ERC condemns the new fee hike and insists that the decision is callous, unjustifiable and anti-poor. A new fee hike whether for new intakes or old students will no doubt compound the economic woe of parents and guardians. It is evident that the country is currently at a critical time when mass of the Nigeria working people are still grappling  without any end in sight, with the rising cost of living side by side several other multifaceted economic challenges largely occasioned by the decision of the President Bola Tinubu to hike the price of petrol, under the pretence of subsidy removal. This is amidst several other pro-capitalist and anti-working people policies like devaluation of the naira.

As far as we are concerned in the ERC, the Prof Adebowale-led university administration lacks every moral credibility to impose a new and another regime of fee hike in the university. None of the previous hikes either by the present and past University administration has translated into any marginal or significant improvement in both the learning and living conditions of mass of the students. Therefore, we think it does not make sense,  demanding  more money from students when there is nothing concrete to show for the one previously  collected.

It is also important to state that education is meant to be a social service not a commodity for sale. Therefore it is the responsibility of the government at all levels to ensure that it is adequately funded and made accessible to all citizens without any form of discrimination. The argument, that Nigeria governments has not enough resources to guarantee free education for the citizens is not true. It is our belief in ERC, that resources to fund free, quality public education can be liberated if every political office holder is placed on the salary and allowance earn by the civil servants; the public fund often set aside by Governors, called security vote and spent without citizens having the right to demand accountability, is scrapped and contract system which makes it easy for a pro-capitalist politicians to inflate the cost of executing public work is cancelled and replaced with public work programs with democratic control.

Nationalization of the key sectors of the economy such oil and gas, banking, etc. under the democratic control and management of the elected representatives of the working people is also one  crucial way through which resources can be liberated for adequate funding of public utilities like education.

It is in the light of this we  call on both the new and old students to organize an effective fight back against the fee hike. It  is worthy of note that the fee hike for new intakes is just a dress rehearsal and a foretaste of impending attack on the old students. Therefore, we fault the decision of Mr Tobiloba-led Students Union executive to have gone ahead and scheduled a meeting with the university administration without a noticeable effort to first convene a mass meeting popularly know as Congress of the students. This kind of approach is tantamount to the act of trying to shave students head in their absence. A Congress of students to discuss the fee hike with a view to secure an agreement as to what is to be done should have been the starting point of  the response of the union.

We welcome the decision of the Students Representatives Council, SRC , to specifically mandate the Mr Tobiloba-led executive to convene the congress of student to discuss the fee hike and what is to be done, on Tuesday 16th April, 2024. At the same time, we hold the Mr Tobiloba-leadership of the students’ union cannot completely be entrusted with the struggle against the fee hike. This is because Mr Tobiloba-led excos  are complicit in the process  that led to the fee hike by the university administration. The Tobiloba- union leadership connived with the university administration to organize a town hall meeting where in the handpicked students who participated were persuaded to accept a fresh hike in fee comes next academic session.

As far as we are concerned, the meeting Mr Tobiloba-led union claimed to have scheduled with the university administration is just a mere grandstanding without any certainty that it going to yield any positive outcome. It is in the light of this background, we favour the constitution of an independent action committee of elected representatives of students across different faculties to join the union leadership at every meeting with the management. This committee which must be set up during the planned congress must also be empowered to plan, organise and coordinate programs of action against the fee hike.

Finally, the ERC will always be ready and willing to stand with students in any of their genuine agitation and struggle against attack on both learning and living conditions

Comrade Akin Paul

Email: [email protected]