The Education Rights Campaign, ERC, has disclaimed former Minister for State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, for using a picture taken of its protest rally against the previously increased Lagos State University, LASU, tuition fees last February. In a statement by its coordinator, Taiwo Hassan Soweto, the group flayed Obanikoro for attempting to link the protest to his governorship aspiration.
The ERC says it ‘dissociate itself from Senator Musiliu Obanikoro’s political aspirations and campaign and/or any other misrepresentations of ourselves that the usage of our picture in his campaign materials conveys.’ The body said, while it is common to use materials sourced from the internet and social media for purposes the a user deems fit, Obanikoro’s action could “create wrong impressions including encouraging political interpretations that may not be in the best interest of the organizations and individuals depicted in the image.”
ERC stated that there was no difference between the All Progressives Congress, APC, which government initially hiked the fees and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, hoping to make a political gain of it. According to them, for reason that both parties ‘could not properly fund and manage public education,’ they should be discarded by Nigerians for a socialist party. The ERC named the Socialist Party of Nigeria as the redemptive political alternative that would “achieve a permanent economic and political respite for the working and poor people.” Similarly, a certain Ewebiyi James, a former LASU student, said the former minister has blocked him and others urging him to put down the picture from his twitter and facebook accounts. He claimed to have begun the public denouncement against Obanikoro, using the twitter hashtag #pullitdown.
LASU tuition fees, which was increased in 2011, pitted the Lagos State Government against students and civil society groups in a long drawn battle which climaxed with revert to the old rate in August 2014. While government and the aggrieved students battled, the Lagos PDP, in which Obanikoro is a leader, was intermittently accused of using it as cannon to attack the former.
Announcing the reduction, Lagos Governor Babatunde Fashola, said “with the increment in 2011, some busy bodies tried to use the opportunity to seek an undue attention and instigate unions and students against the management and the government.”
Obanikoro would later describe the governor’s action as merely political.