By Comrade Rashy
On Wednesday, the 6th of September, 2023, the students of University of Lagos under the leadership of the student’s solidarity against fees hikes yesterday protested against the astronomical and unjust 600% increment in school fees. The school fees were increased from N20,000 to between N120,000 to N190,000, depending on the course of study. This was after all attempts by the students to resolve the issues amicably and to make the university authority see reasons why they can not afford the new fees fell on deaf ears.
No sooner than the protest started that armed Police officers, already stationed in front of the University gate in order to scare away the students, started firing tear gas to disperse the peaceful protesters, and later arrested some of the student leaders (Adeyeye Femi, Phillip Latinwo, Ayodele Aduwo and others). They were first detained inside the Police Black Maria, before being taken to Panti Police station.
Undeterred by the actions of the police, the students later regrouped and continued with their agitation. Many students, upon hearing about unjust arrest of their comrades by the Police later joined the protest. The students insisted that they won’t leave the protest ground until their arrested leaders were released unconditionally. Those arrested were released later in the day due to the solidarity support by wide massive campaign for their unconditional release on social media, as well as the intervention of a radical, human-right lawyer who went to the station to secure their release.
We condemn in strongest terms the unjust arrest of the student comrades by the police officers. We stand in solidarity and identify with Unilag students on the demand for total reversal of this astronomical increase in school fees.
However, it is very important to mention that the current wave of increase in school fees is not limited to University of Lagos. Same policy is now being carried from one university to another. From University of Ibadan to University of Abuja, from University of Benin, to University of Maiduguri etc, it is the same story. This is most condemnable and should be rejected as such, considering the current unfortunate state of the economy where according to the National Bureau of Statistics, about 13 million Nigerians are multi-dimensionally poor. It is very predictable that many students will find it extremely difficult to pay these fees. Many will go through a lot of hardship to get the money. Many will not be able to continue their studies, as the money is not just there. For one, this unjust increase of school fees would definitely take education out of reach of the mass majority of poor Nigerian students.
The main philosophy being passed across is that government has no enough resources and cannot continue to fund education. This philosophy must be wholly rejected in its entirety as it is unfounded. We insist that the resources that are currently available in the society, if organised on the basis of the need of the mass majority of the working class and the poor, rather than in the interest of the profit of the few as it is being done currently, can adequately guarantee free, compulsory and qualitative education at all levels, and would also provide other social services free of charge for the society.
Therefore, the major task before the Nigerian students now is that of organising a coordinated national struggle against all this fee-increment policy. Most unfortunately, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), which is supposed to champion this national struggle is currently being led by careerists who are just after their selfish interests and are so much disconnected from the rank-and-file of Nigerian students. This means in essence that the struggle against this policy is going to be a protracted struggle. This struggle must be linked with struggle for independent students’ unionism on various campuses as a prerequisite to the struggle to reclaim the traditional organisation of the Nigerian students (NANS) and reposition it as a fighting organ.
It is also important to emphasise that students must link their struggle with that of the working class. We are certain that in the coming period, there are going to be more turbulent struggles as the working masses are bound to move against the various economic hardship that are daily being imposed on them. The unity of the working class and youth is an essential ingredient for our victory.
In conclusion, it must be noted that no viable solution to the current crisis lies under this unjust system of capitalism that has outlived its usefulness. Only a socialist alternative under a workers’ government can bring about the desired and genuine change.
NO TO ALL FORMS OF INCREASE IN SCHOOL FEES!
FOR A REVERSAL OF ALL DRACONIAN INCREASE IN SCHOOL FEES!
FOR FREE, COMPULSORY AND QUALITATIVE EDUCATION AT ALL LEVELS!
FOR INDEPENDENT STUDENTS’ UNIONISM!