Over the last week and a half, students have taken to the streets, calling on the federal government to heed the demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other trade unions in the university system. In several university towns, from Benin to Lagos and Abuja to Ife, they have marched, in some cases under the banner of the union, and in others (particularly where repressive university managements had repressed unionism) despite the absence of a union.
The newly formed, Fund Education Coalition (FEC) has played a key role in organizing and inspiring this renewed support of the students’ movement for ASUU and salvaging of public education.
The coalition which comprises local students’ unions, the Take It Back (Students Wing), the Alliance of Nigerian Students against neoliberal Attacks (ANSA), and Socialist Workers and Youth League activists held its first public session at the University of Ibadan on 27 April 2022.
Damilare Adenola and Joseph Aliu, Chair and PRO respectively of the FEC, put together a summary report of the meeting, which we present to you below.
On the 27th of April 2022, the Fund Education Coalition held a public hearing regarding the ASUU strike with the aim of bridging the gap between Nigerian students and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in the South-west region, and to deliberate on what the next steps should be on the part of the students in the region and across the country.
The program was well attended by key figures in ASUU and by representatives of Student Unions of various University. These included the Chairman ASUU UI chapter, Prof Ayo Akinwole; the Chairman ASUU OAU chapter, Dr Adeola Egbedokun along with other executives from both chapters. Also in attendance were Comr. Shoneye Abdulazeez(LAS), Fmr. Student Union President Tai Solarin University of Education (TASUED); Comr. Adeyeye Olorunfemi, Fmr. National Coordinator ANSA; Comr. Damilare Adenola, National Coordinator, Take it Back (TiB) Students’ wing and Comr. Philip Olatinwo from Unilag.
Comr. Damilare Ademola gave the opening speech, where he reiterated the purpose of the gathering anchored on deliberation on what the next steps should be, and for uniting students and students’ leaders across the south-west region on the position that ASUU’s demands must be met. He further stressed that students would as well be beneficiaries of ASUU’s demands, for improved funding of university education, and should not stand aloof during the course of the strike action.
Comr. Shoneye Abdulazeez gave the first address, where he called back memories of his tenure as the Students’ Union President, Tai Solarin University of Education when there was an ASUU strike action as we have now. He recalled that he was the only Student Union President at the time that stood in solidarity with the Union. He explained that his decision to stand in solidarity with the Union was informed by the fact that the Union was fighting for revitalization of universities, a demand which, he would have been a beneficiary of, if met. He submitted that the absence of action from student leaders during the course of the ongoing strike action is a show of the dilapidation of Students’ Unions across the country. He urged student Unions to wake up to their responsibilities and take a stance with ASUU. He called for effective mobilization among students.
In the second address by Comr. Philip Olatinwo, he opined that mere talking would not do the trick this time around. Rather, there should be decisive mass actions by students as follow-up to the talks. He reiterated the need for mobilization of students across Universities in Nigeria against the federal government’s continued silence on the issue of ASUU’s strike action.
In his address, the Chairman ASUU OAU Ife chapter, Dr. Adeola Egbedokun stressed that the reason for the recurring strike actions was the inconsistency of the Federal Government in implementing agreements it had previously entered with ASUU. He took time to enunciate the contents of their demands and he presented four practical steps that should be taken by the students as regarding the ASUU strike to move the Federal Government to action on the subject.
Prof. Ayo Akinwole, Chairman ASUU UI chapter further explained the dilemma of an average Nigerian lecturer, citing that the highest paid lecturer in the University of Ibadan earned Four hundred and sixteen thousand naira per month, an amount that has remained unchanged for over 10 years inspite of inflation. He opined that the students should see ASUU as a friend, working in their interest, rather than as an enemy, as the Federal Government would have them believe.
Comr. Adeyeye Olorunfemi also addressed the gathering. He strongly opined that students should be conscious enough to mobilize themselves into conscientious actions without a nudge from ASUU. He stressed that the decadence in the University system was pronounced enough for all to see and that no one could school comfortably in such despicable conditions. He stated that students should be able to organize strike actions in protest of the despicable condition of universities and of the educational systems in general.
Several student leaders also addressed the gathering and stressed the need for decisive action. These included the Students’ Unions president Adekunle Ajasin University (AAUA Comr. Ogunsanmi Kolade (aka Multiple), and the Students’ Union President, University of Ibadan, Comr. Adewole Adeyinka (aka Mascot).
The conference resolved that students’ unions should continue with actions aimed at mounting pressure on the Federal Government, to attend to ASUU’s demands.
After the event, the Nigerian students marched in solidarity to the front of the University of Ibadan gate, where they addressed residents in the environs on the need to put an end to the recurring strike actions by ASUU.
Public Relations Officer
Fund Education Coalition.