By Ozioruva Aliu
BENIN CITY – NORMALCY has returned to the University of Benin after days of students’ unrest over a N20,000 levy imposed on late payment of school fees, the management of the school Friday officially announced the cancellation of the levy as promised the students.
Reading a press statement to journalists in her office, Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Lilian Salami said that late registration by students of the institution has had negative impacts on the school’s operations and ability to deliver the quality of education she promised.
She however said there was an increase in the number of students that registered early because of the levy imposed before the protest by the students.
She said “On the 2nd of August, 2021 the University Senate agreed to increase the existing payment of late fee of N10,000 to N20,000.00 on all students’ who past due registration period as an another attempt to further encourage early registration among students. The good news is that we saw significant growth in early registrations – from last year’s rate of 35 per cent to 93 per cent. We haven’t seen this rate of early registration in decades. It is a Uniben record – without question. Kudos to those students who chose to make their education a priority.
“In the same token, some students protested the imposition of the late fee and took to the streets to make their voices heard. Protests and freedom of speech are a critical part of a well-functioning society. I continue to be an advocate for creating an environment where all members of the Uniben community can have a voice. That said, while most protesting students acted peacefully, a few turned violent – endangering themselves, their fellow students and our staff (including myself).
“I am glad that the protest concluded with no one being hurt. As the Vice Chancellor, I will continue to encourage fair, open dialogue, but violence in any shape or form has no place in the University of Benin and will not be tolerated. Freedom of speech does not and should never amount to chaos.
“As a result of the outcry from the students, the University Senate reversed the decision to impose the late fee of N20,000. It is important to mention that this reversal in position will not break the University of Benin. I fundamentally believe that there are very few decisions that are irreversible and this is definitely not one of them. At this time, the N20,000 late fee is reversed and it is a closed case.
“UNIBEN is resilient and we will continue to move forward with a strong conviction to ensure that the University reaches its full potential as a premier academic institution,” she added.