The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) has rejected the choice of former President Olusegun Obasanjo as the chair of the convocation lecture scheduled to take place at the Lagos State University’s (LASU) auditorium complex on Tuesday, May 22, 2018.
ERC, which described Obasanjo as a rabid education commercialisation advocate and one of the principal architects of Nigeriaâ€™s misfortune, said: “We consider Obasanjoâ€™s choice wrong, inappropriate and a disservice to the graduates of this enviable public institution who would not have become graduates of a public university if Obasanjo had succeeded in destroying public education as he tirelessly sought to do between 1999 and 2007.
“It took several strike of progressive unions like the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and protests and demonstrations by students for some of his ill-thought policies to be stopped in their tracks.
“Apart from being an anti-poor capitalist agent, Obasanjo is one of the principal architects of Nigeriaâ€™s misfortune. Our public universities, especially LASU which is being kept alive and functioning due to the struggle of students, staff and the public, should not celebrate or glorify those who had the chance, more than once, to take public education and indeed Nigeria to the next level but chose to destroy it through neo-liberal and anti-poor policies.”
According to a statement by ERC, “Obasanjo became president in 1999 at a period when Nigerians looked on to a post-military rule future with hope. But rather than meet peopleâ€™s expectation, Obasanjo ran a government that increased the yoke of the people through rabid implementation of anti-poor policies like fuel price hike, deregulation and privatisation.
“Equally, Obasanjo deepened the implementation of various neo-liberal and anti-poor educational policies like underfunding and commercialisation.”
It further said that instead of Obasanjo adequately funding public education, he and his Vice-President Abubakar Atiku chose to establish separate private universities and other educational institutions apparently funded from their ill-gotten wealth.
The group also accused Obasanjo of running one of the most corrupt capitalist regimes in Nigeria and he was only forced from imposing himself for a third term after popular opposition developed.
“Therefore, his latter day effort to burnish his image as a patriot is simply another attempt to hoodwink Nigerians.
“We cannot forget that in 2015, Obasanjo was part of the ruling class consensus to install the current Buhari/Osinbajo APC government which has succeeded in further deepening poor education funding, the inequality and poverty in the country.
“Owing to the above-outlined facts, we demand a withdrawal of the invitation to former President Olusegun Obasanjo to play the role of chair of Lagos State University (LASU) 22nd convocation,” it said.
ERC, however, congratulated LASU and all graduating students on the occasion of the 22nd convocation of the institution which began on Monday, May 7, 2018.