As Nigeria marked 56 years of Independence, workers and youth stormed the streets of Lagos in a mass action to express total dissatisfaction over the continued systemic failure of the ruling class that has plunged the nation in to over 50years of resource-curse and working peoples’ agony, under the banner of Alliance of Nigerian Students Against Neo-liberal Attacks (ANSA) and Movement of the People for Total Independence (MOPTIN).
The demonstration included student activists from various Nigerian institutions, Joint Action Front, JAF, members of the Socialist Youth League (SYL) Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, and various other radical civil society organizations demanding among other things: the immediate reinstatement of suspended Students Unions and union activists in campuses across the nation; the payment of workers’ salaries, and; totald rejection of privatization and any attempt to sell off national assets.
The demands also included a call for adequate funding of the education sector beyond the paltry 6% allocated in the 2016 national budget to meet up with the 26% UNESCO benchmark. The demonstration started from the converging point in Ikeja and moved to Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park in Ojota. Speeches were delivered on a number of issues as pointed out in the demands and as they concern Nigerian students and the working people.
The suspension of student activists and vicious clamp down on union activities has recently taken an unprecedented dimension as it was in the cases of UNILAG11, OAU2 and AKUNGBA24 where students were victimized for demanding better condition of life on campuses, and administrative prudence. Many radical students’ organisations have been; clamped down, crippled or totally annihilated rendering organised youth struggle ineffective.
Consequently, ANSA (a conglomeration of radical student organisations against neoliberalism in particular and capitalism in general) organized students’ marches against austerity measures and students’ victimization. This was particularly necessary since the National Association of Nigerian students (NANS) has, rather unfortunately, been hijacked by the bosses’ class.
Nigeria is currently going through the worst economic crisis since the return to democracy despite the so called ‘Change’ promised by the ruling class. This however points to the fact that true change can and will only come through the ceaseless struggle of the poor working masses.
The situation is further aggravated by the inability of many states to pay backlogs of workers’ salaries and this has caused the deaths of many working people. However, while the Nigerian masses wallow in abject penury and are forced to bear the burden of the systemic fracture, politicians continue to receive humungous sums of money as remuneration while the employers continue to profit.
This is further pronounced in the attempt by the ruling class to sell of national assets thereby subjecting poor working people to the greed of the capitalists. All these put together informed the peaceful demonstration put up to show the dissatisfaction people have with the system.
As we march to express our dissatisfaction with the system, we call on all Nigerian youths and the oppressed working people to unite in the struggle against the oppressive ruling class and its capitalist system. Let us in unity fight to emancipate ourselves.
Workers and Youth, unite and fight!!
by Uzo Nwanegwo
Coordinator, Socialist Youth League
Obafemi Awolowo University Branch