AS tension grips the nation over planned deregulation of the oil sector and the privatisation of the countryâ€™s refineries, the Education rights Campaign (ERC) has threatened to mobilise Nigerian students and youths for nationwide protest actions and lecture boycotts should government fail to halt this policy.
â€œWe see this move as another attempt by the capitalist and anti-poor Yarâ€™Adua government to convert public assets and resources unto the exclusive, private property of the rich few, thereby leaving the masses at the mercy of these selfish profit-driven individuals.â€
In a press release signed by Hassan Taiwo Soweto, National Coordinator and Chinedu Bosah, National secretary, ERC said that governmentâ€™s argument that only deregulation and privatisation can guarantee constant availability of fuel products at affordable prices is untrue.
During the administration of former President Olusegun Obasano, 18 licences were granted to private companies to enable them commence local refineries of petroleum products. But several years late3r, none has been built.
â€œThe deregulation of diesel and kerosene and their prices shooting up by over 400 per cent has clearly shown that deregulation as a policy is anti-people. for Nigerian students and the working masses, deregulation will mean hike in transportation fares, increase in the general prices of goods and services which will further compound the already crisis faced by poor working class students and youths.â€
As an alternative to deregulation, ERC demanded that the oil sector be nationalised and placed under the democratic control and management of elected committees of workers and the oil producing communities.
It declared: â€œOnly this can guarantee constant availability of fuel products at affordable prices, refining of oil for domestic use, as well as the judicious utilisation of oil revenues to better the lives of the poor working masses, etc.â€
ERC consequently made the following demands:
*Halt to deregulation of the oil sector and privatisation of oil refineries.
*Full and immediate implementation of agreement signed with ASUU.
*Funding of education up to 26 per cent of budget as recommended by UNESCO.
*Cancellation of all fees including the exorbitant Law school fees.
*Payment of N40,000 Cost Of Studying Allowance (COSA) to all Nigerian students in tertiary institutions to help students meet the cost of text books, accommodation, feeding, transportation, etc.
*Recall of all victimized students/staff activists and restoration of all banned unions.
*Immediate freedom of the 27 jailed soldiers without loss of pay.
*Public ownership of the commanding heights of the economy under the democratic control and management of workers.