Hundreds of students of the Olabisi Onabanjo University, OOU, Ago-Iwoye, on Thursday trooped to the major streets of Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, to protest the government’s reduction of school fees in its tertiary institutions.
The protesters led by the Student Union Government, SUG, President, Olusegun Ifade, caused a gridlock on the road leading to the governor’s office in Oke-mosan, as well as other major roads in the town.
They were armed with placards with various inscriptions and leaves. Some of the inscriptions read: “No reduction in 2013/2014, no vote;” “Amosun reduce our school fees;” (Senator Ibikunle Amosun) SIA must obey now;” “Bring down our fees.”
The students’ demands according to their banners included: above 40 per cent reduction of the school fees, which should take effect from 2013/2014 session, proper funding of the university; the transfer of hostels to school management; as well as no victimisation of students.
The protest was monitored by police officers.
Speaking with journalists, Mr. Ifade said the students had been demanding a reduction of the fees since 2011 and were surprised that the state governor was only just now announcing a reduction, which would take effect in the 2014/2015 session.
The student leader vehemently opposed the gestures, calling it a Greek gift that was coming at the wrong time. He suggested that the fast approaching 2015 elections may be one reason for the sudden reduction.
He said the students would remain on the governor’s office premises until Mr. Amosun attended to them.
“Even if it’s going to take us one month or more than that, we are not going to leave the governor’s office premises until the governor attends to us. Enough of deceit! Why the political school fees when election is forthcoming? No we shall not accept the dubious offer,” Mr. Ifade said.
“It is a political reduction instead of proper reduction. Our demand is simple; we want breakdown of our tuition fees. Also we want the reduction to be implemented in this session. It’s simple as ABC. If the governor saw the need for a reduction, why must the implementation be from next session? What about this session? What we want is that the reduction must be implemented in this academic session.”
PREMIUM TIMES gathered from the protesting students that Governor Ibikunle Amosun’s “jamboree” reduction of the university’s tuition fee was from about N192, 000 to about N176,000.
However, the Ogun State Commissioner for Education, Science, and Technology, Segun Odubela, had while announcing the reduction on Tuesday said medical students of OOU, who are currently paying N301,610, will pay N176,596 from next session, representing a 41.4 per cent reduction.
Mr. Odubela said students of the Faculty of Arts in the same university will be paying N81,112 instead of the current fee of N126,540, a 35.9 per cent reduction.
Speaking with PREMIUM TIMES on Thursday morning via phone, Falola Ahmed, the leader of the Ogun State chapter of the National Association of Nigerian Student, NANS, described Mr. Amosun as “a pathological liar” who wanted to use the “tactical deduction” to score cheap political goals.
“The Governor has been making political statements about the fees he reduced, but this is a jamboree reduction, it is a tactical deduction. If he must reduce the tuition fee, he must reduce it to the minimum affordable to the people of Ogun State,” Mr. Ahmed said.