The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) on Monday staged a protest at Government House, Ikeja against the hike in fees of the Lagos State University (LASU). About 200 of them stormed the governor’s office chanting songs and carrying placards with various inscriptions.
Some of the inscriptions read “Education is our Right,’’ Fashola Reduce LASU fees’’ and “What have the poor done wrong?
Security details manning the governor’s office gate had a hard time controlling the students as they attempted to gain access to the Government House. Gov. Babatunde Fashola, however, later ordered that the protesters be allowed to come and express their grievances. On their entry, Sunday Ashefon, NANS South-West Zone Coordinator, who led the protest, described the increase in LASU fees from N25, 000 to N250, 000 as prohibitive. He said the increase had taken its toll on the students of the institution as some of them had dropped out because they could not afford to pay.
Ashefon described the situation as appalling, saying Nigerian students want a reduction of the “arbitrary fees. The fees are not just affordable; some of our colleagues have opted out of LASU simply because they cannot pay from N250, 000 to N350, 000 school fees. These prohibitively high fees are some of the highest paid by any university in the country. Children of the poor can no more attend LASU and this is sad. What Nigerian students want therefore, is nothing but reversal of the fees to the initial N25, 000. APC as a political party promises change, we want that change in LASU too,’’ he said.
Ashefon said the students were also worried about the lingering Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics and College of Education Academic Staff Union strike.
He appealed for the governor’s intervention in ending the crises.
Also speaking, Nurudeen Yusuf, LASU Student Union President, noted that the hike in fees in the institution had resulted in many problems in the school. He said that the hike had not only forced out some students because they could not pay, it had also resulted in falling standards.
“The glorious days of LASU are disappearing and we can’t really see any justification for the new fees,’’ he said. Responding, Fashola said the decision of the state government to increase fees was to reposition the university and make it a centre of academic excellence.
According to him, the N25, 000 paid before now by students will not guarantee the kind of high quality education they deserve to get. He said that the fees were part of efforts to create a university where the children of the poor and the rich could learn and achieve together. It is not right to keep a university only for the children of the poor. That doesn’t make a university anymore. Our dream for LASU is a university where children of the rich and the poor can sit together and develop as a generation.
“For me and for those who advised us, it is a time bomb waiting to explode when you separate the children of the rich and the poor.
“So it is better they both journey and achieve together and that is our dream for LASU,’’ he said.
Fashola said the government had consistently increased budgetary allocation to the university, saying revenue from the hiked fees was too infinitesimal to run the institution.
The governor said about N1.2 billion had been set aside by the state government to provide scholarships for those who could not afford the fees.
Fashola insisted that the fees were increased with good intentions and urged the students and other stakeholders to see reason with government