The protest embarked upon by students of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko(AAUA) and Ondo State University of Science and Technology,(OSUSTECH), Okitipupa, over a hike in their tuition fees entered second day on Wednesday.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the state government had increased tuition fees in AAUA from N26, 000 to N150, 000 and N200, 000 per session, depending on a student’s state of origin and and course of study.
Tuition fees in OSUSTEC, on the other hand was raised from between N70,000 and N120, 000 per session to between N150, 000 and N200, 000.
NAN gathered that the state government had agreed with the students late 2018 to review the tuition when the schools resume for the next academic session.
The students, who took to the streets of Akure on Wednesday, carried different placards with various inscriptions such as: “Gov. Akeredolu, We Refuse to Pay Exorbitant Fees”, “No Reduction, No Resumption”, “Akeredolu Reduce or Resign”, ” Education Must be Free” and “We Say No to N250,000.”
The protesters hindered smooth flow of traffic on the popular Oba Adesida Road, Akure, chanting ‘aluta’ songs and later turned the road to a football pitch.
Speaking with newsmen, Mr James Ogunjimi, the President of Students’Union Government (SUG) of OSUSTECH, said that the students were not happy about the increase.
Ogunjimi noted that there was no proportional government infrastructure in the state owned universities to justify the new tuition fees.
The student leader, who said that the students could not afford anything above N70,000 as tuition fees, asked the state governor to make education a right and not a privilege.
According to him, indigent students are being deprived the right to education with the new fees.
Similarly, Mr. Daniel Adesomoju, the SUG President of AAUA, said that it was not true that the students were consulted before introducing the new fees.
Adesomoju alleged that the increase was forced on the students and agreed upon by “some so-called” representatives of the students in 2018.
According to him, the students cannot stand by the agreement reached with the state government because it is fraught with faults.
Adesomoju noted that it was a bad development to the state for AAUA to had been closed for three weeks.
He said that it would be extremely difficult for parents to pay the fees when minimum wage was N18,000.
Responding to the protest, Mr Yemi Olowolabi, the state Commissioner for Information, said that the students had right to protest.
Olowolabi, however, expressed displeasure over the protest, saying that it was politically motivated.
According to him, the state government has done a downward review of the fees which agreed upon by all stakeholders, including the students.
The commissioner added that the government had instructed the schools’ managements then to allow the students to pay the fees in two instalments, “and the students did this last academic session”.
Meanwhile, a statement released by the management of AAUA, signed by Dr Opeoluwa Akinfemiwa, the school’s registrar, denied new increase of school fees in AAUA.
“Current school fees in AAUA range between N80,000 and N150,000.
“And the students are allowed to pay in two instalments, between N40,000 and N75,000 per semester,” he said.
Akinfemiwa added that the demand during the recent protest of students was for the university to allow those who had not paid their school fees to write tests and examinations, promising they would pay the fees later.
“Parents and guardians are now advised to ensure that their children and wards pay their school fees without delay, especially since they have the option of paying twice over two semesters.
“For avoidance of doubt, the schedule of school fees charged in AAUA, with effect from April 2018 range between N80,000 and N150,000 per year, depending on course or level of study.
“The above figures were negotiated with relevant stakeholders, including the students and their parents, and finalised in April last year,” he said.
According to him, it is instructive to note that almost a session has passed since then and students have paid without any issue.
“It is, therefore, surprising that some people are now coming up with issue of reduction in school fees – an issue that was negotiated, agreed upon and finalised in 2018, a period of over a year ago.
“Management is hereby urging members of the public to note that the school fees payable in Adekunle Ajasin University remain as negotiated with the students since April last year.
“All lies, insinuations, and rumours contrary to the above stated facts should be ignored and discountenanced, please,” Akinfemiwa urged.