by Lai Browne
Over the years even before the 1999 democracy period, the Nigerian state has always marginalised youths from working class backgrounds, placing little priority on public education. No one needs a microscope or eye lens to see this, it is so obvious. This is why millions of poor youths apparently supported or at least had some hope in the APC during the general elections.
It promised change and presented programmes that our generation could not but find attractive, with many believing that, at last, those years of marginalisation by the state are over. But the fact of the matter is that, there is no fundamental change in view from what we can see of the actual plans of the APC in government for the education sector and youth employment.
Nigerian youths from poor working class homes can no longer be satisfied with empty promises. We can no longer endure the hardships imposed by some elements that parade themselves as our political messiahs but who are in reality nothing but purveyors of destruction for our future. We need not forget easily the reasons the youth mobilized and were so determined to vote out the last government.
It was due to the gross abandonment of the youth by the last government and its attacks on the welfare and wellbeing of poor youths with sharp rises in tuition fees. Despite resistance from various students’ unions and platforms the government didn’t do anything to ameliorate the plight of the students and yet the hike in tuition fees did not even translate into improvements in the welfare conditions of the students. Rather the learning conditions for students in these institutions worsened.
Youth unemployment soared to ever greater heights under the PDP government. Job-seekers paid for interviews in government parastatals such as the Nigeria Immigration Service and the National Security and Civil Defence Corps, only to meet death at stadiums organised for the NIS interviews across the country, due to overcrowding.
Yet there was so much money available for those close to government to steal. The SURE-P programme became an avenue for patronage for those youths with connections to the corridors of power. These and many more are the reasons why youths mobilized en masse against the last regime. But unfortunately the reasons Nigerian youth are so disgusted about the last government still persist even during this ‘change’ regime.
Now we can see that the political leaders and bosses’ parties (PDP and APC alike) are bunches of lie mongers and deceit merchants. The new government is no different from the old. Recently, a PDP law maker raised as a motion, one of the campaign promises of the APC which is the payment of N5000 to unemployed youths but immediately APC lawmakers shouted him down and countered the motion. Now the question is; who is deceiving who?
Nigerian youths have been fighting back against the attacks on education over the years. But it is time for us to synergise our struggles, it is time we organise in our mass, it is time we mobilize for a real change in the system not a scam of a change. It is time we tell the lie merchants that their deceit doesn’t sell anymore, we don’t buy any of their lies again.
On this note we in the Coalition of Left and Progressive Students (CLAPS) and Socialist Youth League (SYL) enjoin Nigerian youths and student from every platform and every campus to organise with us, and mobilize on the basis of a radical programme with demands for free education at all levels, reinstatement of all suspended student activists, reinstatement of proscribed students’ unions and independent unionism on our campuses.
We must unite and fight along with workers and their unions on our campuses (ASUP, ASUU, COEASU, NASU, SSANU, NAAT etc.) and beyond. When workers and youth unite and fight, NO POWER CAN DEFEAT US!