Friday, 24 January 2014

Irate students shut down varsity in Jonathan’s homestead

Hundreds of angry students from the Federal University, Otueke, in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, yesterday shut down the institution in protest against increase in the school fees. This was happening as students of Lagos State University (LASU), Lagos, also yesterday went on rampage over fee hike.
The protesting Federal University students, who barricaded roads leading to the Otuoke, President Goodluck Jonathan’s home-town, described the increase in the school fees from N55,000 to N85,000 as arbitrary and lacking in proper management conduct.
The protest, which started as early as 7am yesterday, led to the closure of some business outlets in the community and increased security.
Academic activities were suspended while the irate students refused to enter into discussion with the institution’s authorities, insisting that there must be a change in the management of the school.
A student, who simply identified himself as Timothy, said the increase in the student tuition fee is not commensurate with the facilities available. “We are studying under very tedious conditions. We don’t have power and water. Most of us buy water and donate money to buy power generating set. It is wicked,” he said.
When contacted, the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Mobolaji Aluko, denied increasing the school fees of the university.

He said the fees were charged according to the three sets of students that had so far gained admissions into the school, adding that the pioneer set of students were already in their first semester year two, while the second set were in their second semester year one.
The vice chancellor further explained that the flood that ravaged the state in 2012 affected the academic calendar of the university. “The students who are in their first academic year second semester had all paid these fees. No increase in fees. What they mean by increase in fees is that the pioneer students pay a certain fee schedule and the non-pioneer students pay a certain fee schedule.
“But there is already a set of non-pioneer students who have been paying the fees for a year now. So, there is no increase in fees. We have the pioneer set of students. We have the second set of students and we have the third set of students.
“When the pioneers came in, their fees were N45,000 for tuition and accommodation. By the end of their first year before this second set came in, we increased it to N50,000, but separated the accommodation fees from it. It is for pioneer students and they will pay that till they graduate.
“The second set of students, humanities and social science paid N72,000 and science students will pay N80,000. Of the fees, N16,000 of it was for acceptance fees, identity cards  paid only ones. After the first year, N50,000 will be paid by students in humanities and social sciences and N58,000 for science students,” he stated.
Also, the crisis brewing at the Lagos State University (LASU) as a result of the hike of fees got to a head yesterday as students again went on rampage, disrupting the ongoing examination in the institution.
Mobile police were said to have been drafted to the LASU main gate to dispatch the students, with some of them believed to be injured in the process.
It all started on Wednesday when about 1,292 full-time students of the institution who had not completed their registration due to delay in payment of fees gathered to plead with the Vice Chancellor, Prof. John Obafunwa, to reopen the university’s e-portal.
According to one of the students, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the VC reportedly walked out on them, instead of listening to the plea.
Miffed by the VC’s insensitivity, the students embarked on a mild protest on Wednesday. However, it got to ahead yesterday when the second semester examinations were slated to begin with the aggrieved students mobilising to stop the examinations.
Indeed, the examinations were disrupted by students who alleged that the management had denied them the opportunity to complete their registration before closing the online portal.
The final year students of the institution also complained that the school authorities increased fees from N35 000 to N57 000, in spite of inadequate teaching facilities.
The students gave the school management a March 30 deadline to reverse, insisting that the newly admitted students should not comply with the payment.
During Wednesday’s protest, the matter became so bad that Prof Obafunwa had to be smuggled out of the campus, although the management insisted the examination would hold as scheduled.

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