The Alliance of Nigerian Students Against Neo-liberal Attacks (ANSA) seizes this medium to state its outright opposition and complete condemnation to the widely anti-Union/ anti-poor position taken by the leadership of National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS). We reject it as treacherous and a complete violation of the NANS Charter which emphasizes the age-long tradition and historical responsibility of NANS to defend, not just the mass of students but also their poor parents who are organized in various Workers Unions against their common oppressor- government at all levels.
It is appalling to say the least that the ideological degeneracy of the current NANS executives has been allowed to bring forth its hydra head once again. Lovely were the days when we had the NANS that fought SAP; introduction of tuition in 1985, the military government and the June 12 revolts among other great historical battles.
It is no wonder even the new executives of this anti-student NANS lack the basic understanding of the fraternal relations built on ideological conviction between the Nigerian Student Movement and their working class counterparts, especially when we all know that these bodies are representatives of the oppressed layer of our society. It is students today that become workers tomorrow.
Ours therefore, is not to lament but to understand and proffer solution, guidance and leadership as we are wont to do.
It should be recalled that the executives of NANS on 31st December 2018 made a call to its structures to commence mobilization against the ongoing strike of ASUU/ASUP, joining the Federal Government in demanding that the striking Unions call off their industrial actions. The executives of NANS however tried to whip up sentiments amidst the rank and file of students concluding that the striking Unions are making selfish demands which according to the NANS Leadership are the lecturers Earned Academic Allowances.
Let us try to point out to the Nigerian Public that the struggles being waged by the striking lecturers are the struggles the Nigerian students should be leading by now, in fact we should have shut down the Campuses by ourselves considering the animalistic living and learning conditions students are subjected to. This then brings to question the real demands of the striking lecturers as against the trivial and highly treacherous generalization of the agitation by the executives of NANS, elements who have never called any protest on any issues bordering on students welfare; arbitrary fee increment on our campuses; attacks on students unions and activists. As it stands now; schools like UNILAG, YABATECH, UI, OAU, RUGIPO, UNIOSUN amongst others. Schools that have a union have very pliant ones. YABATECH, UI, UNILAG College of medicine, UNIBEN, FUTO, UNILORIN amongst others have increased fees and are planning to increase again. Others like OAU who haven’t increased have announced an increment. Where are the executives of NANS in all of these vicious attacks on students and their unions?
The 5 major demands of ASUU
1. Areas of agreement include funding for revitalization of public universities and the issue of Earned Academic Allowances.
2.The issue of University Staff Schools.
3. The implementation of the judgment of the National Industrial Court, National Universities Pension Management Company and guidelines for pension matters for professors.
4.The exemption offered by the government regarding the issue of TSA, which included the issue of grants, endowment funds as well as salary shortfall, which is already being implemented by the government.
5. The union also promised to submit a position paper to the Federal Government on their observation with a view for government to advise state governments.
Asides the above stated demands is the agitation that the Federal Government immediately implement the agreements it willfully entered with ASUU in 2009 and 2013 respectively. These agreements are however in tune with the above highlighted demands. At the centre of all of these agitations by the Union is that Government funds our tertiary institutions properly.
May we recall that in 2012, the Jonathan Administration through the report by the Steve Oransaye-led Committee recommended that government finds an alternative to funding by proposing a new fee regime of 450,000 naira and above for non-science related courses and 525,000 naira for science-related courses. This would have come to fruition had the government retained power in 2015. Buharis administration however has not been any different.
Recall that during the ongoing negotiations between ASUU and FGN on the question of adequate funding, the Buharis Government through Wale Babalakin, also proposed a fee increment of 350,000 naira and above for non-science courses and 500,000 naira upwards for Science-related Courses. This increment was proposed as a fraudulent alternative to public funding which ASUU firmly rejected.
What the Governments (PDP/APC) and NANS are telling Nigerians now and most especially Nigerian students is that our unpaid/underpaid/poor parents begin to bear the burden of funding which ordinarily remains the exclusive task of any serious government. Hence to say ASUU should call off its strike; agitation for its demands which are also our demands for free and qualitative education at this time is to support the governments’ stance of sending our students out of school through outrageous fees.
In summary, the statement issued by the NANS leadership, joining government in demanding that ASUU calls off its strike without government acceding to the demands of the Union is a call for mass expulsion of students who would be confronted with the menace of outrageous fee increment.
Let us even assume without conceding that all the Union demands is all about its wages; doesnt even the Bible say that the labourer deserves his/her wage? And the Holy Quran went further to assert that the sweat of a labourer must not go dry without his/her wages. Why will a government continue to pay non-working and certificateless Senators 14 million naira as allowances and would not be able to afford 30,000 naira minimum wage and earned academic allowance for our Professors who obviously add more value to the society than our sleeping Senators?
Are the NANS executives even aware that the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress have declared January 8th a day of mass action as a means of mobilizing for a general strike in order to compel the Federal Government to pay 30,000 naira minimum wage to workers? Or maybe the NANS executives , through its reactionary structures is also planning on stampeding an impending labour strike?
It wont be out of place for the NANS leadership to fully put on the regalia of the Nigerian government since it is already acting as its spokesperson.
The NANS as we know today is split into two factions. The PDP NANS, we know. The APC NANS, we know. Where is the NANS of the Nigerian Students?
It is on this note that ANSA maintains its position in support of the demands of ASUU/ASUP especially those demands enshrined in the NANS Charter. We also seize this moment to call on the mass of students and well-meaning Nigerians to ignore the anti-student and anti-poor stance of our ‘daddies’ posing as leaders of students who prefer shaking hands with the President to fighting the cause of Nigerian students. We also enjoin ASUU/ASUP to abandon its sit-at-home method and align itself at the barricades with mass of students and pro-people civil society organizations.
Ag. National Secretary, ANSA
National Coordinator, ANSA