By Timothy Agbor/OSOGBO
Students of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun State, southwest Nigeria on Tuesday, 20th May, 2014, trooped out in their thousands to protest the new fee regime introduced by the management of their institution.
The students led by the President elect of the institution’s Students’ union, Mr. Ibikunle Isaac were armed with various placards bearing inscriptions like; “OAU STUDENTS SAY NO TO TUITION INCREMENT”, “OMOLE, BRING BACK OUR SCHOOL FEE”, “OMOLE, YOU ENJOYED FREE EDUCATION, WHY KILLING IT?”, “THE POOR DESERVES QUALITY EDUCATION TOO” among others.
The post-graduate students of the university were not left out in the protest as they marched out of their hostels in their numbers to solidarise with their undergraduate counterparts.
The students while chanting songs to drive home their demands had earlier converged at the school’s Anglomoz car park around 8:00am before they marched out to Oduduwa University, Ile, along Ife-Ibadan expressway where they barricaded the roads with tyres and woods.
To this end, there was a heavy traffic hold-up at the federal roads linking Ife town. Consequently, travellers among other road users were stranded for about two hours while the protesting students were busy sensitising them on the reason behind the protest.
Addressing the students, the Students’ Union President-elect, Ibikunle disclosed that the management had reduced the increased fee by N17,000 during a meeting with them on Monday, 19th May, 2014, at the school senate building but noted that the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Omole had said he would not succumb to total reversal.
His words: “the management had increased the tuition from N17,000 to about N100,000 apart from N20,000 acceptance and accommodation fees. We have exhausted all peaceful means, we have consulted union bodies like ASUU, NASU and even the alumni body of the institution to help us appeal to the management to reverse the fee but no avail.
“The Vice Chancellor had told us (the leadership of the Student Union) during a meeting on Monday, 19th May, 2014, that it was the Federal Government that directed them to increase the school fees saying that the Federal Government cannot continue funding education, that is why we barricaded the Federal Government roads here in Ife. We are not here alone, we are also here with post graduate students because it affected them also.”
All efforts made by the team of policemen drafted to the scene of the protest to persuade the students to allow free flow of vehicular movements yielded no success as the students went on calling on parents and concerned individuals to help appeal to the management to reverse the fee.
The situation almost affected candidates writing the Computer Based Test Mode of the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) on campus as the students prevented commercial bus drivers and motorcyclists from carrying passengers into the venue of the examination.
Nomalcy however returned to the expressway around 12 noon when students mostly part one students who were supposed to sit for their last examination which was to hold at noon left the scene of the protest for the examination venues on campus.
Recall that the management of the institution led by its Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Bamitale Omole and the university’s Governing Council had increased the acceptance fee payable by the newly admitted students from N2,000 to N20,000 in 2010 thus resulting to protest that led to the closing down of the institution for three months.
The newly admitted students of the institution would be paying N74, 000 as against N17,000 excluding the acceptance fee of N20, 000 while the returning students would be paying around N50,000 as against N7,000.