Students of the Lagos State University (LASU) have rejected the 60 per cent reduction in school fees offered by the state government on Wednesday.
They said if they would accept anything at all the percentage reduction cannot be lees than 67 per cent across board.
Addressing newsmen at the International Press Centre, Ogba, on Thursday, LASU’s Students Union Government (SUG) President, Nurudeen Yusuf, explained that when the fees were increased it was not done on percentage level.
“Rather, they made the pronouncement in naira and kobo,” he said, adding that government should come out in exact words as to how much will be payable by the students in naira and kobo and not in percentage.
“We do not accept the percentage reduction offered by the government because in 2011 when the fees were increased, it was not done on percentage level; rather, they made the pronouncement in Nigerian Naira and Kobo.
“We urge the government to come out in extact words as to how much will be payable by our students in Naira and Kobo and not in percentage. How do they expect our parents,; the market women scrambling to pay our fees to calculate the percentage,” he added.
Yusuf added: “We recognise the fact that the Governing Council is statutorily empowered by the law that established LASU to consider the school fee. Even if we want to accept the percentage reduction, we can only accept a 67 per cent reduction across board.”
Yusuf further said the government is only trying to play jokers on their future, their destiny and the posterity of the state.
According to him, “Even if the Governing Council and the internal structure in the university will be put to their statutory work, we question the sincerity of the government on this matter because the pronouncement of the fee was as a result of a Visitation Panel set up by the government of which report was selectively adopted.
“On Paragraph 8 of the resolution of the government, Line II, ‘some of the charges included can still be reduced on compassionate grounds’; we demand that the government reduce the fees on compassionate grounds considering the breakdown of the fees as the Governor ordered us on April 3, 2014 and not on percentage.”
Yusuf said the students demand a public apology from the Lagos State Police Commissioner and the Lagos State Government on the arrest, detention and brutalisation of their colleagues.
The Joint Action Front (JAF) also on Thursday called on the Lagos State Government to immediately implement the agreement with striking unions of LASU.
Like the students, JAF also rejected the 34 to 60 per cent reduction in fees, insisting on total reversal of “the wicked and anti-poor hike in fees”.
The organisation urged parents, workers, current and potential students of LASU to intensify the struggle “to defeat the wicked policy of pricing education out of the reach of majority poor Nigerians and Lagosians”.
This was contained in a statement jointly signed by JAF Chairperson and Secretary, Oladipo Fashina and Abiodun Aremu respectively.
It noted that the LASU tuition fee, which used to be N25,000, had led to several thousand of students dropping out of the university and others offered admission not being able to enrol into because it is impossible for the poor parents and Lagosians, who constitute more than 90 per cent of those living below the poverty line, to pay such outrageous fees.
“JAF finds unacceptable Mr. Fatai Olukoga’s expression at the press conference that LASU ASUU ‘should immediately call off their strike and ensure the resumption of normal academic activities.’
“The striking unions in LASU, especially ASUU, should not be expected to go back to work if the Lagos Government would not immediately and unconditionally implement its signed contract with LASU ASUU on the full implementation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreements as re-affirmed by the last strike of ASUU that was suspended in December 2013.
“As far as we in JAF are concerned, the issues in LASU remain: reversal of hike in fees, adequate funding of the university system in line with subsisting Collective Agreements with ASUU and implementation of agreements reached with all the unions in LASU (ASUU, NASU, SSANU and NAAT),” the statement added.
This article was written by Oyeniran Apata, Funmi Falobi and Seyi Taiwo-Oguntuase and was originally posted by the Daily Independent.com.