The students of the Olabisi Onabanjo University, OOU, have warned the Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, that he would lose the 2015 governorship election in the state if he doesn’t rescind his decision on the school fees.
The students stated this in a press conference held in Lagos on Monday.
“When masses say No, No Governor can say Yes,” a placard by one of the students said. “Gov Amosun, listen to the students now or you will…. 2015 election.”
The students have been at loggerheads with the state government since August following their demand for further reduction in the school’s tuition fees and immediate implementation of the reduction.
The state government had earlier announced a reduction which the students said was inadequate. The government also said its reduction would commence from the next academic session.
While addressing journalists at a media briefing organised by the Joint Action Front, JAF, the students described the state government as a “set of shameless parents who chose to lie and deceive their children”.
“We are ever resolute to pursue this cause no matter what it takes, because the issue is very simple,” Olusegun Ifade, the President of the Students Union Government, SUG, said.
“If you are talking about reduction and you run to the media without having a conclusive or mutual agreement and the most annoying thing is you are saying the implementation will take effect next session, our own argument is logical and simple.
“Over 2000 students cannot pay and have applied for leave of absence for the 2012/2013 session, and many couldn’t return. If you now announce a reduction and you say it will take effect next session, what of this academic session of 2013/2014?
“Do they go out of school because they can’t pay and return next session? Is it logical? It’s not logical. Implementation and further reduction of the fees is non-negotiable”.
The student leader also dismissed claims by the state government that the students were being sponsored by the opposition in the state.
“Let me also address the rumour that we are being motivated by politicians,” Mr. Ifade said. “We all remember the Ali-must-go protest in the 70s, we heard the students accused of being sponsored by the opposition.”
“During the LASU struggle, they said the 5th columnist and some politicians motivated it, but at the end of the day, the success of the struggle showed that it was a student motivated struggle.
“It is always like that in this part of the world, when we have a highly irresponsible government who always look for excuse to justify their irresponsibility and that’s why they are saying the struggle of Olabisi Onabanjo University is a politically motivated one. It is not and it will never be,” Mr. Ifade stated.
The student leader added that education is a right of the students and not a privilege. He urged the public and media to support the students and disregard the government’s propaganda against the students.
“They said it’s only 1 out of 9 tertiary institutions that is complaining,” he said. “But it is only that one that is in 2013/2014 academic session; it is only one that pays the highest tuition fees in the entire Nigeria; it is only that one that is still standing and it will continue to stand.”
Also speaking at the media briefing, Chude Achike, the Vice chairman of JAF, explained his group’s involvement in the OOU fees hike protest.
He said the protest falls under its “Save Nigerian public education” campaign and is based on the fact that Nigerians have a right to proper education.
“The various governments want to commercialise education. Education is a right of the people and the irony is that whether the state claims to be progressive or conservative, they are not meeting up with expectation.
“We must commend the students of this school even in the face of propaganda, lies and various accusations. Students of this university must learn from the struggle and victory of LASU,” Mr. Achike said.
The students demanded the immediate re-opening of their school and said the re-opening should come with eight conditions.
These include: further reduction in tuition fees not exceeding a maximum of N50,000; implementation of reduction for 2013/2014 academic session; proper funding of the university; and reinstatement of over 3000 dropped students of the university.
Other demands include “completion of the hostels or immediate transfer to the school management, total removal of all security operatives- SSS, Mopol, Op-Messa, Police- from the school’s community, and non-victimisation of our students or student leaders.”
Tuition fees in OOU currently range from N80,000 to N350,000 depending on course of study as against the N49,000 to N100,000 the students paid during the last administration in the state.
In other schools within the state, Tai Solarin University of Education, TASUED, was initially increased to N95,000; but later reduced to N69,000 as against the N52,000 students paid before 2011 when Mr. Amosun became governor.
At the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, tuition fees were initially increased to N65,000 but reduced to N45,000 as against the N38,000 paid as tuition before 2011.
When contacted by PREMIUM TIMES, the Ogun State Commissioner for Information, Yusuph Olaniyonu, declined comment on the students demand. His counterpart in the education ministry could not be reached.
The Management of the Olabisi Onabanjo University also refused to speak with our reporter as the university’s spokesperson said she was not in a position to comment.
The university has been shut by the state government since August 22 after Mr. Amosun initially asked the students to give him two weeks to consider their demand.
The university’s management also proscribed the SUG for alleged “collaboration with external influences”.