Statement of the Alliance of Nigerian Students against Neoliberal Attacks (ANSA), 04.10.2018
We strongly condemn and reject the proposed benchmark of #350,000 and #500,000 as the uniform school fees for students in Arts/Humanity and Sciences respectively proposed by Dr Wale Babalakin, the chief negotiator in the FGN/ASUU negotiations
We reiterate that 7% budgetary allocation to the deteriorated education sector is terribly poor, absurd and that the FGN must seriously and responsibly heed the recommendation of the UNESCO for at least 26% budgetary allocation to education sector
We call for a day of joint mass actions by ASUU, Students Movements and other civil society organizations to demand that FGN honours all the agreements it entered into with Staff Unions starting from the 2009- FGN/ASUU agreement
The Alliance of Nigerian Students Against Neo liberal Attacks (ANSA) vehemently condemns and rejects the clearly anti-student, anti-parent and anti-poor propositions of Dr Wale Babalakin, the chief negotiator between FGN and ASUU on the ongoing negotiations to draw up 'new schemes' to facilitate and accelerate the aspect of proper funding of the dilapidated public education, that the benchmark for uniform schools fees for Nigerian students in Arts/Humanities and Sciences of all public higher institutions should be #350,000 and #500,000 respectively.
This, in clear terms, means that students in all these schools should be prepared to drop out of school as such an outrageous hike is a killer in this face of economic terrorism at the moment engineered by this same government.
It is no surprise that this man who negotiates for this funding has a private University and would always exploit the negotiations to suit his profit making syndicate for the privatization of the public education even when he belongs to the generation of those who benefited richly and largely from free education scheme of the Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
This is indirectly telling us that students from poor backgrounds and whose parents are placed on ridiculous sum of #18000 as National Minimum Wage will be denied access to public education. How does the government expect students to pay such sky high fees when minimum wage is #18,000 and most times this meagre sum is not paid as at when due, parents are owed backlogs of salaries, and exposed to economic vulnerabilities?
It is an incontrovertible fact that this proposition of Wale Babalakin stabs logic in the head plus the fact that it is clearly anti-poor and a pointer to fraudulent shift of responsibility of fully funding Education- the role of Government.
We therefore reject this wholly.
It is not out of place to state that the idea of bank loan for students is not only deceptive but also an organized attempt to completely price education out of the reach of the students and collapse the public education to give ways for private ones to thrive.
This is not a new plan game of the people in government. There has been several schemes with severe attempts to commercialize the education sector and hand over this critical sector to their friends, cronies and stalwarts who own private Universities, Polytechnics, Colleges of Education etc.
It is an indication that the Buhari-led administration is running away from her constitutional responsibility and this irresponsibility must be challenged politically and legally.
In serious and reasonable climes, much priority and great attention are placed on the massive education of citizens because this is what drives the economy and places these countries on the road to human, material, economic growth and development.
However, It is so unfortunate that we have a government that takes pride in the poorest funding of her education sector.
While other thinking and serious countries are pumping enough funds to revitalize the education sector to make it much more qualitative and accessible to their teeming populace for it to catch up with the political and economic challenges in this 21st century particularly in the area of science and technology, the Buhari/APC led government budgeted ridiculously 7% for the education sector.
For a very long time, the UNESCO has recommended to developing countries that are responsible to the aspirations of their people to at least budget 26% for the education sector. Despite the obvious fact about the decadence in the education sector, Buhari/APC led government budgeted poorly below expectations and left public education to collapse.
Instead of the government to pump substantial funds to revamp the dying sector, she is rather allotting the lion shares of the budget to feed and clothe the politicians. While the welfare conditions of students and the conditions of service of the academic and non academic staff are in porous state, the politicians in the National Assembly go home every month with #13.5m as running cost let alone other salaries and allowances. This indicates that the FGN is not only paying lip service to the education of her people but also consciously allowing the public education to decay and keep the mass of people in illiteracy.
We enjoin ASUU to not just condemn and reject this terrible development in words but also to take to the barricades and ensure that the Federal government withdraws from such ridiculous propositions by Dr Wale Babalakin. ASUU must continue to demand that all agreements of funding and welfare reached between her and the Federal government are obeyed fully.
ANSA will not only continue to sensitize the mass of students and the public to reject this proposition but would also massively protest against it.
For struggle, solidarity and freedom.
Obafemi Sodunola (ANSA National P.R.O.)
Patrick Oseriemen (ANSA National Secretary)
Adeyeye Olorunfemi (ANSA National Coordinator)
ALLIANCE OF NIGERIAN STUDENTS AGAINST NEO LIBERAL ATTACKS (ANSA)
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