ALLIANCE OF NIGERIAN STUDENTS AGAINST NEO LIBERAL ATTACKS (ANSA), 29.11.2018
Good day ladies and gentlemen of the press.
We are using this medium to intimate the public and the international communities the terrible state of our education sector and how it has been thwarting our academic activities.
It should be noted that our higher institutions of learning are under locks and keys again. The wave at which these institutions are being disrupted, or better put, shut down, as a result of industrial actions of aggrieved labour unions, that is, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), is terribly appalling and this consequently spells doom for our academic success and future careers. In fact, it is now a popular saying that industrial actions in Nigeria Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of education are compared to a season of the year as they have become annual experience or event in the Christmas sense.
We want to clearly state here that the industrial actions of these labour unions particularly, and currently, ASUU is always ignited by the ineptitude of the government to show serious responsibilities for the proper funding of the higher institutions of learning.
Hence, the Alliance of Nigerian Students Against Neo liberal Attacks (ANSA) seizes this critical period to intimate the public, the press media and the international communities on the myriad of the neo liberal policies being thrust on the public education in Nigeria whereby the academic and non academic staff as well as the students, are subjected to poor teaching and learning conditions.
First and foremost, it has come to our notice that the administrations of the various higher institutions of learning in Nigeria now autonomously, forcefully and illegally charge students for "acceptance fee" and other obnoxious fees. And these fees are incessantly increased. Students are illegally charged to pay to accept their admissions when they are already offered. We see this as a capital extortion or in a more clear term, a criminal practice. We find this very ridiculous and unfounded. We strongly reject this and we are fully ready to fight it out both legally and politically until this absurd charge/fee is withdrawn and the students whose monies have been collected through this unfathomable channel are refunded. We are of course fully aware of this robbery at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Obafemi Awolowo University, University of Benin, University of Lagos, Federal College, Akoka, Ladoke Akintila University, Ogbomoso, and many others. We see this as a deliberate attempt by these administrators/administrations to shift and force the funding of the public education on students when the governments are displaying flagrant irresponsibility for the proper funding of this critical sector. This is not acceptable by all standards.
Again, ANSA has been noticing that the Federal Government of Nigeria is notorious for dishonouring/flouting agreements entered into with labour unions particularly and popularly the ASUU. The demands of this striking union are very genuine because as we speak, the higher institutions of learning are on the verge of total collapse due to lack of full and proper funding or the poor budgetary allocation to these institutions.
Of course, we are fully aware of a number of agreements reached between the ASUU and the FGN, starting from 2009. It is so disappointing and disheartening that the FGN has been failing to fulfil and implement the agreements in the MEMO. It is upon this disobedience of the constitutional responsibility of the FGN and its wanton and culpable acts of dishonouring agreements and starving this critical sector, that the ANSA openly and clearly declares its strong support for the strike action of the ASUU and thus protest that all the demands of ASUU are met and the contents of the MOA singed by the FGN since 2009 till date are fully implemented.
For us in ANSA, we seriously find it appalling to note that the FGN has been poorly funding and starving the higher institutions of the funds needed to revitalize these institutions as it is incontestable fact that these institutions are in the state of dilapidation/near ruins despite the warning and recommendation of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, that developing countries should pump to their education sectors at least 26% budgetary allocation so that they can catch up and compete with the standards of their foreign counterparts.
It must be stated that between 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, the budgetary allocations have been embarrassingly and downwardly dragged by 8.43%, 7.46%, 10.78%, 7.93%, 7.4%, and 7.14% respectively. It can be seen from this statistics that FGN has been starving the education sector with ill-funds. This further shows that the FGN has never been sincere with these agreements it signed with the ASUU for upward funding of the universities system. It will interest the public to know that as we are speaking, these institutions are in dilapidated crisis; infrastructural decay, laboratory deficiency, overcrowded lecture theatres and congested student hostels.
Moreover, in a calculated attempt to commercialize the public education and price it out of the reach of the students from poor backgrounds, FGN came up with a new policy of outrageous tuition fee in 2014 that students should pay between 450,000 naira and 525,000 naira in a Committee led by Steve Orosanye. This policy was widely vehemently protested and rejected by mass movement of students and the ASUU.
But despite many calls, letters by the ASUU to the FGN to honour these agreements it entered since 2009 to pump enough funds for the revitalization of the already rotten education sector, the FGN came up in 2018 with the same policy of tuition fee amounting to 350 000 naira and 500 000 naira that was condemned and rejected in 2014. We find this awkward and also funny the idea of Bank loans to students to enable them pay the tuition fee. Because this is the same government that finds it difficult to increase minimum wage from 18 000 naira to 30 000 naira as demanded by labour unions but asking students to undergo the rigor of inaccessible loans. It is clear to us that the FGN only wants to mortgage the future of students from poor backgrounds.
At this juncture, We want to make clear that ANSA rejects the proposition of the Wale Babalakin--led committee that Nigerian Students in public tertiary institutions should pay between 350, 000 naira and 500, 000 naira as new tuition fee.
We therefore reaffirm our commitment to fighting all these neo liberal policies of underfunding and commercialization of the public tertiary education. We shall resist and reject all these both legally and politically.
We are sounding it here again that we are starting a mass protest by next week to ensure that the FGN heed to the yearnings and demands of students and the striking lecturers.
We immediately demand the followings:
—Proper and full funding of the education sector.
—26% budgetary allocation to education sector as recommended by the UNESCO
—FGN should immediately and unconditionally honour the agreements with the ASUU and other Unions and fully implement the MOA to the letter.
—Abolition of any acceptance fees and other charges extorted by administrations of all schools.
—Immediate reversal of hiked school fees across all public tertiary institutions
Obafemi Sodunola, National Secretary Adeyeye Olorunfemi, National Coordinator