The Department of Philosophy, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, held an international conference with the theme, Nationalism and Economic Justice in Nigeria on May7-9, 2013 in honor of Dr. Dipo Fashina, who retired from the university. The opening session of the conference was chaired by the renowned scholar, Dr. Segun Osoba. Co-incidentally, Dr. Osoba and Fashina taught in Ile-Ife and shared the Marxian ideological leaning.
The plenary session had stimulating presentations by scholars of diverse disciplines and set the background for the parallel sessions in various sub-themes that included democracy, ethnicity, political corruption, identity crisis, economic and state crisis, nationalism, et cetera. This writer attended the conference and presented a paper titled; the state, subsidy question and social struggles (1999-2012). The conference papers sought to proffer alternative ideas on how to reconstruct the Nigerian state and society. The state crisis is therefore, critical to dialogues and underpins the centrality of state power in socio-economic and political relations in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the philosophy lecturer, Dr. Dipo Fashina had taught different aspects of philosophy for 35 years in the citadel of learning. He joined the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, as an Assistant Lecturer in 1979. He was easily identified as a radical scholar and activist, who collaborated with Prof Omotoye Olorode, Prof. Idowu Awopetu, and Dr. Segun Osoba et al through different ideological platforms such as the Ife Collectives, to engage local, national and international issues.
Dr. Fashina is an enigma, didactic, conscious, eloquent, selfless, hardworking, focused, highly cerebral, de-ethnicised, incorruptible and very engaging. He served the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in different capacities and became its National President when he succeeded Prof. Assisi Asobie, a retired scholar in political Science at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka; He in turn was replaced by Dr. Sule Kano, who teaches at the Uthman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto.
ASUU has been a consistent trade union organization, showing character and disciplined. These attributes are reflections of the union’s leadership such as Professors Eskor Toyo, Olorode, Awopetu, Attahiru Jega, Assisi Asobie, Dr. Festus Iyayi and Dr. Oladipo Fashina, who showed ideological clarity, consistency, courage and passion for the country. The union was resolute on the de- annulment of June 12, 1993 Presidential election amidst the chicaneries in the military and political class. ASUU insisted that the election should be sustained and the winner, Chief MKO, Abiola, sworn in as the President of Nigeria. The June 12 Presidential election has been described as the freest and fairest election in the country’s political history.
Dr. Fashina, with the connivance of students movement; organized labour centers, especially the Nigeria Labor congress (NLC), waged popular struggles against the military dictatorships in Nigeria and had sustained the struggle under this democratic dispensation. He is the Co-Chairman of the Labor and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO), which has waged popular protests against the state’s repressive socio- economic policies. LASCO has repeatedly led the struggle against International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank policies in Nigeria, especially the protests against subsidy removal and privatization. Dr. Fashina is the Chairman of the Joint Action Forum (JAF), a coalition of civil society organizations. JAF led by Dr. Fashina, and its Secretary, Comrade Abiodun Aremu, has been involved in social issues and often mobilizes the populace against anti-people policies. JAF has been involved in the okada struggle against the Lagos State government, anti-subsidy reduction protests, anti-globalization protests and protests against pension scam. The protests often raise critical issues in the polity and pose alternative ideas on how to reconstruct the Nigerian state and society.
It is noteworthy that he worked for the Campaign for Democracy (CD) and Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) pursuance of people’s rights and social justice. He was in the delegation to Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic amid its struggle for independence. Saharawi has been in a struggle against imperialist Morocco, which exppropriated the territory after the exit of Spain in 1976. The Saharawi leaders were in Lagos in 2010 to canvass support for its struggle. The meeting, which held at the Femi Falana Chambers, drew the commitment of the civil society groups in Nigeria ably led by Dr. Dipo Fashina. We wish Comrade Fashina many more years to the service of the working people, urban poor, peasants, students’ organizations and the left.