DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST MOVEMENT (DSM)
OAU Branch, Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, Osun State.
Nationnal Office: 16h2 Ipaja Road, Agbotikuyo Bus-stop, Agege, Lagos State. E-mail: email@example.com
Tel: 08075263865,08031509489 Website: www.nigeriasolidarity.org
Motto: Struggle, Solidarity, Socialism
DSM OPPOSES THE PLANNED FEE INCREMENT IN OBAFEMI AWOLOWO UNIVERSITY
– We call on Students to reject the proposed fee increment
– Vibrant, progressive student unionism must be restored now!
The Democratic Socialist Movement rejects the planned attempt by the authorities of Obafemi Awolowo University, (OAU), Ile-Ife to increase hostel accommodation fees payable by students. This rejection is made with the understanding that public education is a basic social need that must be funded by the governments from the collectively owned resources of the country.
In recent times, fee increment has been one of the major tools employed by the universities’ administrations under the pretext of generating more funds for infrastructural developments, while shirking away from compelling the governments to fund these institutions adequately. This anti-student policy is only a way of assisting the government in shirking their responsibility. The resources of the country if well managed can provide free and functional education. Therefore, fee increment is just a means to weaken toiling but poor parents by squeezing money out of their pockets. According to recent UN survey, over 90% of Nigerians live below $2 per day. Workers across the federation are currently agitating for the implementation of N18, 000 minimum wages which translates to a paltry sum of N600 per day while pensioners are hardly paid their meager entitlements. It is in this light that we feel that the mass of students, and indeed the working and poor Nigerians should not be further impoverished with this anti-student policy of fee increment.
The federal government itself revealed the cost of maintenance of an average student in Nigeria to be about N400, 000. This is obviously not obtainable from the poor people of Nigeria. This point to the fact that fees increment in Universities will only amount in futility; just a drop in the ocean. This will never resolve any of the fundamental problems confronting our institutions of learning, but rather deny a vast population access to higher education. This should be a serious concern for those who claim to want to develop the country in less than a decade, if at all there is one. We therefore advise the university administration under the leadership of Prof. Tale Omole to turn to the federal government for improved funding of the university, and not make life unbearable for the already suffering students and their parents. We are convinced that if the administration takes this road, the mass of students and workers in the university will gladly and resolutely support this.
In a desperate attempt to justify the planned fee hike, OAU’s new VC (Prof. Bamitale Omole) at a recent meeting with all students lamented the deplorable state of the University particularly the halls of residence. He referred to the time of his generation when students enjoyed a good living and studying ambience of having two students per room and every student being entitled to free meals. He however went offline to propose the increment in accommodation as a panacea to this bad state of things. While we appreciate this history, it must not also be forgotten that these conditions were not products of exorbitant fees. In fact, many of those in that generation would not have had the opportunity of obtaining a degree without the existence of an institution like OAU where they had to pay almost nothing. Unfortunately, we are now in a period when the living conditions of the masses have worsened drastically as a result of the anti-poor, neo-liberal capitalist policies, inspired by IMF/World Bank and gullibly accepted by Nigeria’s capitalist ruling class.
The DSM believes that the University and indeed the country have the resources to provide good accommodation facilities for students. The huge sums of money realized from pre-degree, diploma, POST UTME and even the recently collected N20, 000 acceptance fees imposed on the fresh men have not been accounted for. This is asides the 300 million naira special grant to the University last year. Despite these sums of money, students have had to live with the misery of overcrowded rooms coupled with poor toilet and bathroom facilities. The University management yearly provides only 10,000 bed spaces for over 30,000 students on campus. Indigent students who cannot afford the price of accommodation outside the campus squat with friends. This underlines the fact that an increment will only succeed in denying a vast majority of students the access to accommodation and thereby making accommodation an exclusive right of the rich. While the attempt to reduce the number of students per room is much appreciated, it should go alongside massive construction of hostels with good hostel facilities needed for qualitative learning.
The onus lies on the Vice-Chancellor to use his office to demand for increased funding of education vis-à-vis increased allocation to the University. This also emphasizes the need for the Vice-Chancellor to restore the Students’ Union to join forces together to make this demands come to fruition. Considering the fact that the Vice-Chancellor has just assumed office, it is also imperative that he allows a fresh air to breathe on campus by reinstating the victimized student leaders and activists.
One other issue that cannot be overemphasized is the undemocratic running of Universities. The absence of the democratization of the decision making organs of Universities has constituted several crises and remonstrations. Undemocratic rule has reared its ugly head in OAU under the previous administration of Prof. Micheal Faborode. Two popular markets (Aluta market and Old Buka) which were highly patronized by students as a result of their proximity to halls of residence and academics respectively were demolished.
Conclusively, the crisis of Nigerian education is not unconnected with the poor and neoliberal policies of the ruling elites. It is therefore imperative to link the struggles of fee increment and bad welfare conditions on campuses with a national campaign against underfunding of education in a bid to ultimately chase away this thieving capitalist system.
OUR CARDINAL DEMANDS
v Immediate abandonment of the proposed increase in hostel accommodation charges
v Immediate and unconditional restoration of the union
v Reinstatement of victimized students’ leaders: Wale Owolabi (Ogunruku), Frederick Joel (F-Jay), Benjamin Nelson (Mandela) and Adediran Adeyemi (Africano). They are not criminals but defenders of students’ interests.
v An end to incessant closure of campus under any guise.
v An overhaul of the hostel facilities and massive construction of more hostels.
v Democratization of the decision making organs of the university in compliance with the 2009 ASUU-FG agreement.
v Increment in the budgetary allocation to education to at least 26% as recommended by UNESCO
v Nationalization of the commanding heights of the economy under the democratic control and management of the working people.