The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) has called for the immediate reopening of the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture (MOUAU) and a reversal of the fee hike.
The group condemned the closure in a statement by its National Mobilisation Officer, Adaramoye Lenin, on Monday.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the management of the institution announced the indefinite shutdown of the university over the students’ protests against the hike of the institution’s fees.
But ERC criticised the university management for their “insensitivity” towards students who were denied access to their exams due to unpaid fees, following a 200 per cent increase implemented last year.
The group described the action of the university as callous, adding that the decision has led to many of the students being unable to make payments, “and those who managed to do so made it under extremely difficult conditions.”
The group said: “Students who are affected by this inhumane policy staged a protest, instead of resolving the crisis by meeting the demands of these students, the university shut down the school and labelled the protesting students as ‘hoodlums’. This vindictive act is condemnable. It shows the university management is uninterested in issues that affect the academic life of students. If the protest of students was violent, there is no better place to logically place the blame other than the doorstep of the university management, who had inhumanely increased the school fees to an unaffordable figure.”
The group further added that “many of these students are from poor and working-class backgrounds, whose parents are already faced with the devastating inflation and other anti-people policies of the Tinubu-led government.”
The education group demanded the immediate reopening of the institution to allow students to take their exams without any restrictions.
It also asked the university to reverse the hike in fees and revert to the previous fee structure. The ERC also called for “the investigation of administrators, which will address potential corruption and mismanagement of funds.”
“The ERC concludes by urging students and educational workers to unite against further attacks on public education and fight for better funding and management practices.”
Fee hike across Nigerian universities
Almost all Nigerian public universities have hiked the fees payable by students, some of them by more than 100 per cent, in violation of presidential directives.
The Nigerian government, meanwhile, insists the universities remain tuition-free and that students only pay for sundry charges.
The management of the institutions justified the hike, saying it was due to the rising cost of maintaining the facilities of the institutions and a dwindling allocation from the government.
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