REPORT: MSA-Uniben Join students to PROTEST Against Government Refusal to meet ASUU’s DEMANDS.
By Bestman Michael
Some days before the May Day Event, students of the University of Benin (UNIBEN) had declared a protest march to hold Wednesday, 4 May 2022.
It could be recalled that the ASUU strike had lingered since February 14. And so far, the federal government (FG) has been nonchalant and irresponsible in finding a lasting solution to the plight of the university lecturers. It confirms how they don’t see education as a right nor as their duty to ensure that everyone attends quality public school.
It is this reason that had informed the protest in UNIBEN alongside other neighbouring schools like the Ambrose Alli University (AAU) students and so on.
The protest march started from UNIBEN Main Gate towards Ring Road where other schools would meet. Despite the heavy downpour, there was a substantial turnout and MSA UNIBEN was able to intervene directly with our leaflet on the ASUU strike and our newly published special May Day edition of our Paper SOLIDARITY.
It wasn’t hard for student leaders and students to recognize and identify our organization i.e the MSA. In fact, when we started sharing our leaflets, the moment they saw Movement for Socialist Alternative, they gave their support and joined in distributing it.
It is interesting to note that MSA has been fully involved in the UNIBEN struggle since we initiated the campaign against the N20,000 charge for late registration. Plus, our involvement in the campaign against Police Brutality as regards the attack on students during a peaceful protest leading to the shooting of Juliana Martins on the leg by a trigger-happy policeman attached to the National Petroleum Development Commission, the imposed Medical Levy, and Dress Code policy — we have constantly issued statements condemning the anti-student policies of the management.
However, after the rain subsided, people became interested in our paper. Asking questions and creating room for discussions. Although there were Banners and a few placards, MSA was the only organisation with a leaflet to sensitize students about the Strike and Education, generally.
Sadly, because of the impromptu notice, we had 30 copies of the paper with us. We are glad to say we sold all the copies. In addition to selling these copies, we had three contacts from both UNIBEN and the College of Education interested in joining the MSA.
Since the ASUU strike, which started 6-week ago or thereabouts. The MSA has continued to give solidarity to the striking workers. Our position is in addendum with ASUU. We support the union in its demands and we also demand along with the workers that the FG must fund public education adequately.
We frown at the excuse that government don’t have money to invest in public education and develop the sector. We disagree with any propaganda the government will be putting forward. The 12 weeks extension of the ASUU confirms that the regime is not ready to meet with the agreement they had with the striking lecturers.
While ASUU has extended the 8-week strike to 12-week, the MSA call on the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Nigeria Trade Union Congress to not only issue threats to FG but to declare a day of action to force the government to meet with the demand of the striking union incontrovertible.
The leadership of both labour centres must use its organ to rally workers and the Nigerian working masses behind ASUU against the government’s mischievous act of refusing to meet the worker’s demands. It must declare a national day that will affect the possible victory.
In addition, we are calling on other striking unions in the education sectors NASU, SSANU, and ASUP to join the struggle with ASUU to ensure public education is saved. Above all, the Nigerian students should not see ASUU as the cause of the long stay at home. However, students must see the regime of Buhari as the primary major obstacle to improvement in public education as a result of its meagre budget allocations to the education sector.
Students must give clear solidarity to ASUU and join in every action initiated by the striking union to avoid the government using it to divide students among itself. Students in their strength should put pressure on the SUG in various campuses not to take side with the University management against the striking workers. Rather, they must join hands with the workers to demand public education be funded adequately with 26% of the country’s budget.
In sustaining the initiative of solidarity with the ASUU strike, we urge students on campuses to organise regular department meetings and have discussed on strategy on how to consolidate the momentum against the regime’s dogged method of not funding public Universities.
Saving it, the working masses must identified with the striking union. They must shift the blame to the Buhari regime and see ASUU as not a problem but the Buhari regime. Our solidarity as students, trade unionists, and community people on social media, workplaces etc is significant. Through our solidarity with ASUU struggles public education can be saved from underfunding.