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Socialist Democracy 2010


31 March 2010

Print | Text only print | Facebook  Twitter

NEW WAVE OF FEE HIKES IN TERTIARY INSTITUTIONS

For A One-day Nationwide Warning Lecture Boycott And Mass Protest

This Struggle Must Be Actively Supported By Trade Unions And Parents

By H.T Soweto

In public institutions of higher learning in Nigeria, there is a rising wave of astronomical fee increments. This phenomenon of education commercialization is being implemented with gusto at both federal and state-owned institutions irrespective of the political party forming the government.

At the University of Ado-Ekiti (UNAD), the Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP) - led government of Ekiti State headed by Governor Segun Oni has increased fees to between N90, 000 and N120, 000! Also, the Alao Akala Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP) Government in Oyo State recently increased fees in the State-owned Polytechnic of Ibadan from N25, 000 and N30, 000 to N60, 000 and N80, 000 for OND and HND programme respectively. In Lagos State College of Health Technology (LASCOHET), Governor Babatunde Fashola of the Action Congress (AC) has increased fees to N30, 000, which is beyond what ordinary poor students can afford. Also at the Ambrose Alli University (AAU) Ekpoma, fees were increased by the Adams Oshiomhole Action Congress (AC) government to between N60, 000 to N100, 000. It took massive protests of students before the fees were reduced to between N40, 000 to N50, 000 an amount still much beyond the means of ordinary poor working people and peasants of Edo state. Also recently, an attempt to increase fees at the University of Nigeria (UNN) elicited massive protest from students.

As expected, it is the children of poor working and lower middle class parents that are hardest hit by this increment. This is because millions of working class and lower middle class families have been reduced to living from hand to mouth as a result of high cost of food, fuel, transport, shelter and other basic needs. The last time minimum wage was increased in Nigeria was 2000! Since then, Nigeria's economy has further nose-dived thus jerking up into the roof cost of basic goods necessary for daily survival. As a result, over 80% are living in abject poverty. In this situation, an extra kobo increment in school fees is bound to throw out of school millions of students who are too poor to afford it.

The DSM call on all Nigerian students, education workers and working class parents to rise up in unison to fight the increment. We call on the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) to call Senate meetings of the association to debate these attacks on education and to declare a one-day nationwide warning lecture boycott and mass protest. Days of action should also be organised simultaneously in different zones of NANS as a build-up to a national action. Prior to the day of action, posters and leaflets must be produced in thousands and circulated on all campuses to explain the issues to students. Rallies, media campaign, protest and other forms of political actions must be organized to mobilize Nigerian students for the one-day lecture boycott. At the same time, the staff unions, trade unions and working class parents must actively support this struggle by organizing mass actions to defeat the fees.

Any entertainment of illusion that the increment will not get to all schools is suicidal. This wave of fees increment is bound to spread to all institutions of higher learning thus worsening the already intolerable conditions of Nigerian students. The increment is not accidental. The reason why government is commercializing education by increasing fees in schools is the same reason for privatization of public enterprises, deregulation of the oil sector and fuel price hike. The entire aim is to divest from the State all responsibility for public welfare while handing over vital social services to capitalist businessmen, banks and corrupt politicians to run for profit. This is in line with the exploitative capitalist philosophy of 'free market' embraced by the PDP government at the federal level and the government of PDP, AC, APGA, PPA and ANPP at the state level as the best way to run society. What this means is that access to education, health, roads, shelter, food and in short life itself must be based on ability to pay for them in the market and not a right which every member of society must have.

Therefore without taking away the levers of economic production from the control of the capitalist ruling class and chasing away their crooked representatives from government, it will be impossible to resolve any of the socio-economic problems confronting students and youths in Nigeria today or win the struggle against fees increment. A democratic socialist revolution is the only way to permanently defeat these neo-liberal attacks on education. Therefore, while fighting against fee increment, our struggle can only be permanently victorious if we as Nigerian students join workers to build the Labour Party (LP) as a mass-based political party with socialist ideas to take over political power from the capitalist ruling class and form a government of workers and poor masses. With this kind of government embracing socialist plan of economy and society by bringing the commanding heights of the economy under public ownership, it will be possible to mobilize society's resources to provide free, functional and democratically-managed public education.