Monday, 27 January 2014

LASU CRISIS: Cancel the Current Fees; Reopen the School Now!

 All Students Must write Exams


The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) holds that the Lagos state APC government with its anti-poor policies is responsible for the current crisis at the Lagos State University (LASU) that has led to its closure by the management. This latest closure has come just a few weeks after the university was reopened following the end of 6-month strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).  The students who could not pay school fees on time went on protest after they were denied opportunity to write examination even when many of them had struggled to raise the outrageous fees. According to reports, 1,292 students were affected by closure of registration exercise because of the inability to pay on time. It should be recalled that the school fee of the university was astronomically increased from N25,000 to a regime of fees ranging from N193,750 to N348,750 depending on courses in September 2011. We demand the immediate reversal of these outrageous school fees which are beyond the reach of students from poor and working class background. All students must be allowed to register and write the examinations. 

We also demand the immediate reopening of the university without payment of reparation by students. No student must be victimized on account of the crisis. The management of the university led by Prof John Obafunwa should be held responsible for the degeneration of the crisis because of its brutal insensitivity to the plight of the affected students out of rabid compliance to the anti-poor policy thrust of the APC Fashola-led government of Lagos. Rather, adequate medical attention and compensation should be paid to the students who were seriously injured from vicious repression of the protest by the armed police invited by the management.

The University’s Vice chancellor Prof. Obafunwa is so blind to the reality of daily struggle for survival by the average Lagosian and difficulty of raising such huge amount of money as he was reported to have accused the students who could not pay of choosing to be negligent and, according to him, “that was why they failed to pay and register” (Vanguard January 25, 2014).  Many parents have to borrow or sell properties in order to pay these obnoxious school fees. But for Obafunwa, “the question is ‘do we really want a new LASU?” (Vanguard January 25, 2014). In other words, the new LASU is one that does not have place for children of the poor and working class parents. This explains why the government is charging as high as N350, 000 for University education in a state where the minimum wage is N18,000! 

Indeed, what LASU crisis has further underscored is the vacuity and falsehood of the claim of the APC to being a progressive party. The university owned by Lagos state government being showcased as the model of governance by the APC charges the highest school fees at any public university in Nigeria.  This and other anti-poor policies and conducts of the Lagos state government are parts of the reasons that the APC must not been taken by the working masses as a genuine alternative to the equally anti-poor PDP it is desperate to replace in power. Unfortunately, there is no party that represents the interest and aspiration of the working people. Labour Party formed by NLC is now essentially a surrogate political platform of PDP and a trashcan of anti-poor politicians who could not get the tickets in PDP or APC.  The working people must work and strive for formation of their own party while contending and resisting the anti-poor neo-liberal capitalist attacks. This is why the SPN is seeking official registration with INEC in order to represent the interests of the working masses within and outside political offices while campaigning and working for a mass working people party on socialist program.

We of the SPN strongly hold that there are enough resources to adequately fund not only LASU but also the public education at all levels. The problem is the anti-poor policies of the government and self-serving interest of the political office holders who pay themselves and hangers-on jumbo salaries and allowances at the expense of the poor in the state. 
We call on the staff unions (ASUU, SSANU, NASU, etc) and students’ union of LASU to organise a joint platform of actions against the outrageous fees which have already adversely affected the annual enrolment of students and threatened the jobs of staffs. The total population of LASU students at present is about 13,000 which is a sharp drop from over 20,000 which it used to be before the new fees regime was introduced in 2011. Indeed, given the relative low number of students that applies to the university or picks up the offer of admission in the last two sessions as a result of the high fees the figure will further plunge by the time those currently in 300 and 400 levels graduate. This will give the government which is already talking of restructuring the excuse of scrapping of some academic program and departments and sacking education workers, both teaching and non-teaching. We therefore call on labour and pro-masses organizations to show interest in development in LASU by initiating sustained mass campaign and activities to fight for cancellation of the current regime of fees. This must go with the demand for adequate funding of the university by the government side by side with the enthronement of democratic control of resources by the committee of elected representatives of education workers and students who are subject to recall by their electors in order to ensure judicious allocation and spending.       

Segun Sango                                                                        Chinedu Bosah
National Chairperson                                                          National Secretary

Sunday, 26 January 2014

We Condemn Aregbesola Government’s Diversion of Public funds to Building Religious Centre

 Press Statement

The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) Osun State Chapter strongly decries Aregbesola government’s diversion of public resources to building a so-called Christian Interdenominational Worship Centre. According to newspapers’ report, the government has already committed N51 million to pay people whose farms are being taken over for this worship centre. Surely, hundreds of millions will be committed to building this worship centre. This latest action further confirms our position that the current Aregbesola/APC government is only using religion to further its political interests, while wasting public resources on frivolities. In a country, where the State is declared secular, Aregbesola government has been unduly promoting religious tendencies of various hues and colours. The same government declares frivolous public holidays and commits public resources to celebrating private religious festivals. The governor himself has turned every public and government function to religious venue, reciting religious verses! This clearly is divisive and has the tendency to cause unwarranted religious acrimony.

More than this, various divisive and anti-poor policies of government have engendered negative reactions, some of which are expressed through religious prism. For instance, the merger of public schools, which has created problems for many pupils, students and their parents, has been used by religious groups to feather their interests. While we in SPN are opposed to this merger policy from the angle of the inconvenience it will create for poor and working people, coupled with the anti-developmental nature of the policy, various religious groups have latched on the issue to promote their private interests e.g. calling for the return of schools to missionary owners.

Consequent upon this horrible approach, there has been growing religious feelings with various interest groups, most with selfish agenda, using religion to seek attention of state. Rather than this stopping government’s frivolous promotion of religion, it has given excuse for the Aregbesola government to use public resources to bribe religious groups. For instance, prior to this time, the Aregbesola government donated over N30 million to the family of a late church leader, to build a mausoleum for the dead man! This is aside several other wasteful spending on religious activities and donations to religious groups. Therefore, this latest frivolous spending is just part of the long list of abuse of public office to further political interests of the Aregbesola government. Maybe we should be expecting building of religious centres for Muslims and traditional worshippers; all from the state purse.

This approach to governance is clearly immoral. In a state where more than 80 percent of the population do not have access to potable/pipe-borne water supply, and where tertiary institutions in the state have no functional ICT facilities, these religious spending clearly shows governance in disarray.

The N51 million can at least lay some pipes for water supply for Osogbo, the state capital, where potable pipe-borne water supply has been non-existent for years. The money can even procure farm inputs and equipments for farmers whose crops are to be sacrificed for the religious centre. While government commits resources of the state to pacifying religious interests, the state-owned university has been comatose, with poor facilities that have made students and staff to improvise. Currently, the fate of medical students in the university is uncertain, as the institution’s medical programme has not been approved. N18, 000 minimum wage has not been fully paid to workers, while over 20, 000 youths employed under the government’s employment scheme are paid less than N10, 000, without guarantee of secure and decent employment.

Government mouthpieces, in defence of this ridiculous policy of the government, have told us how Osun will become a religious tourist centre and a beehive of economic activities through the establishment of religious centre. However, they refuse to recognize that these religious diversions can turn the state into hotbed of religious strife, if the current trend continues. Moreover, we ask, what productive activities will take place in a religious centre that will provide much-needed tens of thousands of decent and secure jobs for young and able people of the state? If religious activities were basis of economic progress, then Nigeria, being one of the most religious countries in the world, would have become an economic Eldorado. What the government pretend not to understand is that religious activities are mere consumptive activities, and not productive. What Osun State and indeed Nigeria need is a planned productive economy under the democratic management and control by working and oppressed people, and not an archaic economic policies premised on medieval ruling system.
This diversion of public resources to religious end is not different from the federal government’s commitment of public resources to building religious centres, while majority of the citizens are living in penury. Indeed, religion has become a new tool by politicians in power to bamboozle the suffering masses. Money meant for public good are diverted to religious interests to seek the favour of religious groups and divide the people. It is no news how several billions are wasted yearly by all tiers of government to sponsor people to pilgrimage that ordinarily should be a private affair.

We of the SPN Osun State therefore call for the immediate reversal of this obnoxious abuse of public fund. We demand immediate end to undue and frivolous promotion of religion in the state. We demand full employment for all able-bodied indigenes of the state, and expansion of social infrastructures, including provision of potable water supply across the state. More than this, we of the SPN stand for public ownership of the economy under the collective and democratic management and control by the workers, communities, relevant professionals and the working people in general, as a basis of ending mass suffering in the midst of superabundance.


Alfred Adegoke                                                   Kola Ibrahim
State Chairman                                                    State Secretary