A student activist group, the Alliance of Nigerian Students against Neoliberal Attacks (ANSA), has called on fellow Nigerian students and youths to protest the supression of students' rights on campuses across the country. The group seeks to mobilize a one-million strong march slated for October 1.
Read ANSA's press release on the matter below:
ANSA COMMENCES MOBILISATION TOWARDS OCTOBER 1ST MASS ACTION
MASS ACTION AGAINST VICTIMIATION OF STUDENTS’ ACTIVISTS AND UNION LEADERS
MASS ACTION AGAINST INTERFERECE IN UNIONS; AGAINST SUSPENSION OF STUDENTS' UNIONS
REVERSE WIDENING INEQUALITY BY TAXING THE SUPER RICH; PAY ALL OUTSTANDING WAGES
LABOUR SHOULD MOBILISE FOR A NEW GENERAL STRIKE, DEMANDING DEMOCRATIC ACTION AGAINST RECESSION
The Alliance of Nigerian Students against Neoliberal Attacks (ANSA) has declared October 1st as a day of mass action against attacks on education, students and Nigerian masses. At the September 7 All Nigerian Students' Summit of ANSA, participants from Nigerian tertiary institutions resolved to immediately commence mobilisation for a one million youth march against governance-induced crisis that students, youths and the Nigerian masses at large are facing.
ANSA laments the spate of suspension of students’ unions and Students’ leaders across Nigerian universities. This trend is a threat to Nigeria's ailing democracy, and is perpetrated by corrupt Vice-Chancellors who are desperate to protect their secrets from public exposure. Sometimes this year, the authority of the University of Lagos suspended over six activists, who played prominent roles in a struggle of UNILAG students against poor welfare conditions. This suspension was accompanied with a ban on student union activities. There are ample reasons to believe that the UNILAG authorities evoked these desperate measures to stifle the call of UNILAG students for a public probe into the spending of UNILAG's share of 2013 FGN NEEDS ASSESSMENT INTERVENTION FUND, because this slogan has started to gain currency during the protest in June.
By the way, UNILAG is not the only campus where this reign of impunity exists. Running to two years now, the Obafemi Awolowo University ( OAU) student union body was banned by a university management led by Professor Tale Omole, whose tenure was rocked by unending allegations of financial improprieties. Over the past 5 years, OAU authorities have viciously maintained a record of suspending 13 students at different points for political reasons or for holding dissenting views. Olawale Owolabi is a victim of this ignominious trend, and has had his admission process terminated since 2011; the Vice-Chancellor that ordered his victimisation is the current Secretary General of Committee of Vice-Chancellors, while Olawale hold on to nothing because of his participation in a students’ protest of Feb 2011 in OAU. 25 students of Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba-Akoko are currently under rustication order, foisted on them by the AAUA authorities. It has become a common practice of authorities of tertiary institutions to suspend both union and student’ activists in order to quell incessant protests of students against increasingly grim conditions on campuses.
ANSA finds this current tradition of quelling legitimate protest with threat of victimisation as abhorrent, and grossly ineffective as it has failed to remove the causes of students’ protests or end it. We call for immediate and unconditional reinstatement of ll prosribed Students’ Unions and students’ activists suspended for their involvement in Students’ Unionism and struggle. We contend that the demands of students for improvement in their conditions are legitimate, and it is equally within their rights to demand for affordable services during this period of governance-induced recession. Some campuses in Nigeria are not more than glorified secondary schools, despite neck-breaking increment in fees. Education cannot be neglected or continued to be underfunded by government during this ugly recession. And with a policy of taxing super rich men in Nigeria, including spending of funds recovered from corrupt politicians on education, parents can be saved the headache and absurdity of paying for school fees. Our schools will also have the chance of educating and churning out labour forces that can add value to the economic production of this country.
We understand that the Buhari -government has continued to shy away from its constitutional responsibility to the people of Nigeria, with a banal excuse of corruption of previous regime or current economic recession. We believe that none of these two excuses is enough to justify the inability of government to arrest inflation, pay workers’ salaries, take absolute control of critical sector of the economy, tax Nigeria’s big businesses and multinationals, including the inability of Buhari to run a transparent government. Recession is not merely a word, it qualifies low productivity of a nation, and Nigeria can only get out of it with a conscious policy that would gainfully engage millions of unemployed in productive labour. However, we are not naïve to believe that the Nigerian government, fully baptized in neoliberal traditions, would immediately make this changes to government policies.
Imagine that a decision of the Federal High Court at Ikoyi did not stop the Buhari government from harassing Nigerians with high electricity tariffs, in favour of the billionaire’s elite that own GENCOs and DISCOs. Only a people’s action can remind President Buhari that it was the Nigerian masses that brought about his presidency.
We are sure that if no step is taken out of the conundrum of Nigeria’s economic recession, Nigerian students and increasing bloc of unemployed population would suffer most. This is why ANSA is calling out on Nigerian youths and students to make this year’s independence day celebration an occasion of sober reflection for our leaders and a day for Nigerian mases to call attention to their plights. On the basis of this, ANSA invites the general public and school of Nigerian students to a protest against austerity and victimisation, that would kick off from the popular Ikeja under-bridge by 8am on Saturday, October 1st, 2016.
Wole Olubanj (08133927663) Sanyaolu Juwon
Pro-tem Convener Pro-tem Secretary