By Laju Arenyeka
The Education Rights Campaign, ERC, has welcomed, albeit with suspicion, the reversal of the hiked fees of the Lagos State University, LASU, by Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola, the Governor of Lagos State. The Governor made this known at the 19th convocation ceremony of the University held on last Thursday.
The ERC made this known in a press statement signed by its National Coordinator, Mr. Hassan Soweto. Soweto, however called for vigilance on the part of LASU students and workers to ensure that this victory is permanent. Soweto said: “This is important because the experience of Okada riders and other oppressed masses in Lagos is instructive to note that the Lagos State APC-led government is a viciously anti-poor government that can grant concessions in the run-up to elections only to withdraw them once they have comfortably returned to the saddle.’
Adding that: “Equally instructive is the fact that right at the convocation ceremony where Governor Fashola announced reversal of the fees, protesting members of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) who were demanding improvement in their working condtions were teargassed. This should be a warning to all LASU students that regardless of the reversal, the anti-poor mentality and mindset of the Lagos State government remains unchanged. The ERC therefore calls on students to actively support the members of SSANU and every other unions agitating for improvement in their conditions because without these unions’ solidarity, the struggle for reversal of the fees would not have been won.’
Soweto also added that the state government only made such a move because it was forced to do it. He said; “In any case the ERC considers the decision of the Lagos State Government to reverse the fees as a vindication of our uncompromising demand for immediate and unconditional reversal of the anti-poor fees. The State government was forced to concede by an unrelenting and prolonged mass struggle which saw many students brutalised, arrested and detained. Indeed left to Governor Fashola and as he made clear on many occasions, the fee hike was a foregone conclusion.
However as the ERC often told the students of LASU, no mountain is immovable once the people are resolved and resolute to move it. Not for one moment did the ERC lose hope that it was possible to win total reversal of the fees. Our hope and enthusiasm was based on the complete unpopularity of the fee hike among Lagosians and Nigerians as well as our undying faith in the capacity of working people and students to change their conditions if they so will it. Indeed to show the power of the working class, the strikes of the Academic