Pandemonium broke out on Monday at the Polytechnic, Ibadan, Oyo State capital, as students staged a peaceful protest within the campus and on the major roads that lead to the State Government Secretariat in Agodi.
The protest, which was led by the institution’s students’ union, was in response to the increment in “hostel refusal fee,” among other numerous issues listed in a memo issued by the union.
The institution’s management immediately announced the postponement of the first-semester examination which was earlier scheduled to commence on Monday. The suspension of the students’ union was also announced by the management via a statement signed by the Registrar, Modupe Fawale.
The authorities described the protest as ill-advised, politically motivated and unwarranted.
But hours after the announcement of the suspension of the students’ union, the management reversed the order, saying the students had shown remorse.
It, however, could not take any decision on the postponed examination as of Monday afternoon. The polytechnic’s Public Relations Officer, Adewole Soladoye, said since the examination timetable must have been disrupted by the protest, rescheduling the examination would require painstaking efforts.
Earlier on Monday, the students converged in their hundreds on the entrance gates of the polytechnic, blocking the Sango-Poly junction.
The protesters later left for the government secretariat at Agodi, causing traffic gridlock for commuters on the roads.
PREMIUM TIMES gathered that the institution had announced the “imposition” of a mandatory “N15,000 hostel refusal fee” on every full-time National Diploma (ND) and Higher National Diploma (HND) students who may be unwilling to live in the school hostels.
A 200-level student of the Higher National Diploma (HND), who pleaded anonymity for fear of being sanctioned, confirmed that as of 2017, the “refusal fee” was N1,000 before it was increased to N5,000 in 2021.
“Now the management has increased the fee to N15,000. That was the major reason for the protest,” the student said.
However, a check on the official website of the school by a student as of 12:50 p.m. shows that the fee had again been reverted to N5,000.
About ‘hostel refusal fee’
The institution’s Public Relations Officer, Mr Soladoye, said the hostel refusal fee was to discourage students from staying outside the campus during their first year as students.
He said it is mandatory for ND 1 and HND 1 students to live in the hostels and pay for accommodation and that the “hostel refusal fee” is to discourage them from jettisoning the offer, and that the fee is used to maintain the hostels.
Mr Soladoye, however, said certain exceptions are entertained such as students with special health conditions, among others.
When questioned about the availability of hostel spaces for all admitted students, the spokesperson said anyone who paid the “refusal fee” when the spaces are fully booked would be refunded.
Meanwhile, following the students’ protest, the institution’s management has rescinded its decision and reverted to the old charge of N5,000 which was introduced in 2021. Before 2021, the charge was N1,000.
The students have taken to social media to criticise the charges, describing them as a rip-off.
Other complaints by students
The students’ union, according to a memorandum issued on 9 January, with the reference number: TPI/SEC/SU/CB141, and signed by the President, Oloyede Okiki, accused the Oyo State Government of relegating the institution by an alleged refusal to upgrade its facilities and give it a facelift.
“It is public knowledge that there are seven state-owned institutions, but it has become obvious that the current State Government of Oyo prefers some educational institutions more than others. This is not the type of leadership and legacy that we anticipate from the government,” the memorandum reads in part.
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The union described as ironic how Governor Seyi Makinde who facilitated the reduction of the tuition paid by the students of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso, by 25 per cent and allowed the students who haven’t paid their school fees to write the examination, could be responsible for any fee increment on the campus.
The union also said the governor provided electrification for the university but “chose to darken Poly Ibadan and her community despite its nearness to the governor’s office”.
The governor was also accused of never visiting the polytechnic for on-the-spot assessment despite the nearness to his office, among other allegations.
The management of the polytechnic in its initial statement said “the students’ union has no formal complaint before the management concerning the examination slated to commence today; therefore, their protest to the State Secretariat is questionable”.
According to the statement which was signed by the Registrar, Mrs Fawale, the first-semester examination earlier scheduled to commence today (Monday) was also postponed indefinitely.
It added that “the students’ union breached the rule of decency” by locking all the gates that lead to the institution and “causing unwarranted hardship” to other students and the general public at large.
But in another statement, which was also signed by Mrs Fawale, the management announced that the suspension order has been lifted.
“The Management has decided not to use the big stick on the students as they have also sheathed their swords. The Management will be holding meetings with the leadership of the students to address their perceived grievances,” the statement reads in part.
The management, however, said a new date would be announced for the aborted examination that was scheduled to have commenced on Monday (today).
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