BY ABUTU AGADA,UNN
Following the latest hike in tuition by authorities of the University of Nigeria, students of the federal institutionhave resorted to protests to show their displeasure over the development.
The riot which started in the early hours of Monday at the Enugu campus of the university, was a move by the students to communicate their disapproval at the introduction of an additional N17,000 which the university authorities claim is for internet (Lionet) and allied fees.
As at press time, the entrance of the school was locked by security operatives. Vanguard Learning gathered that those intending to enter the campus were turned back and those inside were stranded. There is said to be very heavy presence of security operatives in and around the campus as policemen and other security operatives were seen in the environment.
In a comprehensive chat with one of the protesters who pleaded anonymity, the student explained that the authorities took them unawares by craftily introducing one bill after the other. “The school first released the normal school fees. A few days later, they brought out another fee which they called the internet fee.
“We were still reeling from the effect of that shock when the authorities brought out yet another fee they termed “other.” It was on that basis that we collectively agreed to carry out a peaceful demonstration.” He went on to reveal that security operatives swung into action curtailing their movement beyond the gates of the campus.
At the time of filing this report, Vanguard Learning gathered that the authorities placated the students by telling them that the matter will be looked into. According to them, they will suspend payment of the school fees, pending the time the matter will be looked into.
The students confided in Vanguard Learning, however, that should nothing positive be done by the authorities before Friday, they will resume the protest.
A student, who gave her name simply as Ifesinachi, said that the new fee was discriminatory as it is not all students that will benefit from the internet facility because it is not all of them that have the devices for accessing the internet. He also stressed that those who stay off campus will not benefit from the internet facility as the reach is limited.
Another student who will rather remain anonymous called on the federal government to prevail on the school’s vice-chancellor to rescind the decision. He maintained that the university is not a state owned institution and so the fees should not that much.
According to the student, UNN is the highest paying federal university in the country. Chukwuma , another student from the Nsukka campus of the university who spoke under anonymity lamented the increment and blamed the fact that a ban on student unionism, three years ago. He believed that it gave rise of the situation. There would have been riots in Nsukka too if not that there is no SUG here,” he said.
It will be recalled that in 2010 authorities of the university shut down the institution, following the vandalisation of properties and disruption of peace, including the temporary residential quarters of the Vice Chancellor, Prof Bartholomew Okolo and some senior staff quarters of the institution by protesting students.
The violent protest embarked upon by the university students was for the same reason of hike in tuition fee; an action the Vice-Chancellor has since denied. This was shortly after the VC Prof. Bartholomew Okolo took over the reins of the school from Pro. Chinedu Nebo.