Tribute to a worthy Comrade Olaitan Oyerinde who must live in our memory By Dipo Fashina and Abiodun Aremu

The Joint Action Front (JAF) joins millions of Nigerian workers, the oppressed poor, and activists in the working people organisations, at this most grieving hour, in this most unusual memorial and unavoidable circumstance at Ede in Osun State, on this Thursday, May 10th 2012 to commit to mother earth Comrade Olaitan Oyerinde, whose short but exemplary life was gruesomely terminated by sponsored assassins still at large in a politically motivated murder.

Until his shocking and most painful murder in the early hours of Friday, May 4th 2012 in Benin, Edo State, Comrade Olaitan Oyerinde was the Principal Private Secretary to Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, National Officer of National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) in 1989/90, and Deputy General Secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).

Comrade Olaitan lived a life of struggle for the emancipation of the Nigerian masses right from his days in the students’ movement in Kwara State College of Technology (renamed Kwara Polytechnic), the University of Lagos and in the glorious era of NANS. Before joining the NLC, Comrade Laitan was the Assistant General Secretary of the Iron and Steel Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ISSSAN). He participated in several popular struggles under the platform of Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO).

A prolific and exceptionally gifted writer with sharp intellectual depth, Comrade Laitan as Secretary-General of the Patriotic Youth Movement of Nigeria (PYMN) in the late 80s and early 90s authored several of the communiqués and position papers articulated by NANS in the defence of adequate funding for education, academic freedom and
independent students’ unionism. Though fragile and with humble disposition, Comrade Olaitan stands out among his generations of students and labour activists because of his leadership ability, communication skills, editorship ability and intellectual and perceptive characteristics. He has great capacity for theorising and debates in the
fields of humanities, Marxism and Pan-Africanism.

He was the leading brain behind the authorship of the 1989/90 ACAREF (Academic Reform Agenda) – a necessary review and addendum to the Charter of NANS (launched at the Bayero University, Kano Convention in 1982) in the face of the persistent neo-liberal attacks by IMF and World Bank against access to tertiary education and militarisation of the academic environment. He belonged to the generation of patriotic students who led the nationwide popular protest by the students against economic slavery, which was then referred to as Anti-SAP (Alternative to Structural Adjustment Programme).

Comrade Laitan, no doubt, a socialist and working class activist and Pan-Africanist before joining the neo-liberal capitalist political order on leave of absence from the NLC to assist Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’s Administration in Edo State, belonged to several organisations of the oppressed classes, among which are the Socialist Revolutionary Vanguard (SRV), Pan-African Youth Congress (PAYCO), the Beko-Chima Ubani led Campaign for Democracy (CD), and the Progressive Youth League
Mushin-Lagos (PYLEM) – a grassroots organisation responsible for the enforcement of barricades and protest in 1993 – 97.

JAF strongly holds that the murder of Olaitan Oyerinde is a clear case of political assassination, which all those who cherish a humane society free from poverty, disease and illiteracy, must condemn.

JAF believes the memory of Comrade Olaitan and other martyrs of the struggle for the social transformation of the Nigerian society shall live in the forward motion to rid Nigeria of political barbarism and state violence perpetrated by the class of looters and profiteers in our country. We all owe the memory of Comrade Laitan and all our fallen heroes and heroines (Michael Imoudu, Wahab Goodluck, Mahmud Tukur, Ola Oni, Rotimi Ewebiyi, Gani Fawehinmi, Alao-Aka Bashorun, Beko Ransome-Kuti, Chima Ubani, Alhaja Raliat Daniju, etc) a duty to continue to struggle for social and economic emancipation of Nigeria.


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