“When they increased the school fees, did they use percentage?”
The Lagos State Government, Wednesday, bowed to pressure from students and reviewed downwards the school fees at the Lagos State University by 34 – 60 per cent.
Following a meeting between Babatunde Fashola, the state governor, and representatives of the university’s Students’ Union; the ad-hoc committee set up by the State Executive Council decided to reduce the fees.
“Government agrees that with the subsidised tuition fees and appropriate moderation of the incidental fees, a reduction ranging from 34% to 60% is possible across the different faculties and courses,” the report of the committee stated.
“Government has therefore approved the reductions and, in accordance with the Law setting up the University, forwarded its approval to the University Governing Council for consideration and implementation.
“Pursuant to its statutory mandate, the University Governing Council will issue details of what is now payable by students in each Department and deal with all other management matters of the University. All individuals and groups within the community are advised to relate to the University Council accordingly.
“Notwithstanding the approval of reduced fees for students in the State University, Government will retain and continue with its enhanced scholarship and bursary provisions. The Research Fund sponsored by Government will also be maintained to foster a culture of research and innovation in the University,” it added.
STUDENTS ‘UNHAPPY’ WITH REPORT
The students have, however, said that they were unhappy with the government’s resolutions.
The school fees at the institution ranges from N198,000 to about N300,000.
Nurudeen Yusuf, President of LASU’s Student Union Government, told PREMIUM TIMES that the state government “is playing jokers with us.”
“They should come out and tell us how much we should pay now and not giving us the percentage to calculate. When they increased the school fees, did they use percentage?”
Mr. Yusuf said that the students would hold a press conference on Thursday to state their position on the committee’s resolutions.
Wednesday’s resolutions by the ad-hoc committee followed the students’ letter to the governor dated April 24, 2014, which detailed their complaints on fees payable by new students of the University.
Hundreds of students had stormed Mr. Fashola’s office last Thursday in protest of the hike in their school fees.
On Tuesday, last week, following the students’ protests along the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway, armed police officers allegedly fired ‘lived bullets’ at them and arrested eight of the students.
On Tuesday, armed police officers chased and shot tear gas canisters at the students who were returning to the governor’s office for another round of protests.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that the arrested students, who had been arraigned before an Ikeja Magistrate Court for breach of public peace, were freed on Wednesday.
In their resolution, the ad-hoc committee noted that while the government recognizes the right of individuals and groups to associate freely and protest, that these rights do not suspend the criminal laws.
“Neither can they justify actions that show disrespect for or trample upon the freedom and rights of other members of the society,” the committee stated.
“Deriving from the foregoing, damage to property, blockage of highways or other acts of public nuisance are punishable offences under the Criminal Law of Lagos State and cannot be justified or excused under the guise of public protests, otherwise society itself will be at risk of perpetual disturbance by sundry interest groups.
“Indeed, one of the primary responsibilities of Government is the maintenance of law and order and, in the public interest, Lagos State Government remains fully committed to this objective,” it added.
The committee also noted that while LASU’s budget for recurrent and capital expenditure for 2014 was about N10 billion, fees from the students amounted to only 10 per cent of the amount.
The state government subsidizes the remaining 90 percent by the provision of scholarships, bursaries and research grants.
“Despite the foregoing, the Ad Hoc Committee has recommended and Government has accepted that the fees and charges payable by students for incidental services and materials are amenable to a downward review for two main reasons:
(i) some of the fee components have been applied to students across all levels when in fact they can be justifiably limited to students at a particular level only;
(ii) some of the charges included can still be reduced on compassionate grounds,” the committee added.