BY OLASUNKANMI AKONI AND MONSUR OLOWOOPEJO
LAGOS — For the umpteenth time, students of the Lagos State University, LASU, and Civil Society groups, yesterday, took to major roads before storming Lagos State House and state House of Assembly in protest against government decision not to reverse the hike in tuition fee.
As a result, normal business and traffic at Alausa and environs were partially halted for hours before the intervention of policemen and task-force officials who restored normalcy.
The irate students, who stormed Alausa at about 11 am, also claimed that all students had been directed to resume for academic session on February 24, as against the institution’s directive that only the final year students should do so.
The school management had last week directed that all final year students of the institution should resume for academic session to allow them engage in the national youth service.
The protesters, who chanted anti-government slogans, were armed with placards with different inscriptions.
Some of the inscriptions read: “Education is a right not a privilege”, “Adequate funding of education is non-negotiable”, “Reverse the tuition fees now” and others.
Some of the civil society groups which joined in the protest included Education Right Campaign, Joint Action Front, JAF and others.
The National Co-ordinator of Education Right Campaign, Mr. Hassan Soweto, who spoke on behalf of the students, lamented the harrowing experience of indigent students in paying such exorbitant tuition fee of N250,000.
Soweto noted that this was the root cause of LASU’s crises which led to the indefinite closure of the institution initially.
He lamented that the lawmakers were biased in their judgment by putting all the blames on the students rather than addressing the actual problem affecting the institution.
According to him, “I want to tell you that the hike in school fees since 2011 is the cause of the recurrent crises in LASU. The fee is one of the most expensive in the entire country.
“We think the House has acted in error. It is unfair to put all the blames on students. This is against the claims by the party that calls itself the progressive; it is undemocratic.”
House can reverse the fees —JAF
Also, Secretary General of JAF, Mr. Abiodun Aremu said: “The House has constitutional responsibility to reverse the fees. We are passionate to be here today because we know the lawmakers were beneficiaries of public education.”
He reiterated that it was quite unfortunate that the Lagos State government is aggravating the problem instead of finding ways to resolve the issue, adding: “Universities cannot be run by dictators so that the right of students would not be jeopardized.”
House lauds peaceful protest
Responding, Deputy Speaker, Kolawole Taiwo, said it was unfair for the protesters to lay claim that the House had been one sided in the way it handled the case.
According to him, the members passed resolution for the re-opening of the portal to allow students who were yet to register be given the opportunity.
Taiwo commended the courage of the students by being law-abiding despite being aggrieved about the current situation.
He said: “I want to assure you that the house would look into your complaints. We thank you for not taking laws into your hands. We shall do the needful.”