Monday, 31 October 2011

Day of warHow LASU students dared Fashola, varsitymanagement over tuition fee hike…Vow to press on until government shelvesthe 725% increment

Recently, students of Lagos State University
(LASU), Ojo, erupted like an active volcano.
The students rose in protest against the new
fees regime introduced by the Lagos State
Government. However, at the World
Teachers’ Day celebration on October 5 in
Lagos, the Lagos State Commissioner for
Education, Mrs. Olayinka Oladunjoye, told
newsmen that the state government would
engage the Students Union in a dialogue over
the approved fee hike.
Now, the big question is: Was that done
before the bubble burst on Thursday, October
20, when the students of LASU took to the
streets, barricading the Mile/Badagry
Expressway, Iba Road and Old Ojo Road to
protest the increment put in the region of
over 725 per cent?
The new tuition regime as recommended by
the visitation panel and approved by the state
government is as follows: College of Medicine,
N348,750; Faculties of Arts and Education,
N193,750; Faculty of Social and
Management Sciences, N223,750; Law
programmes, N248, 750; Faculty of
Communication/ Transport, N238,750;
Faculty of Science, N258,750 Faculty of
Engineering, N298,750.
Following the rejection of the increment by
students, the university authorities summoned
the union executives led by Akeem Durojaiye
to a meeting with the Acting Vice Chancellor,
Professor Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello, and other
principal officers of LASU. The students
official position to the fee hike was made
known at a briefing held at the Lagos State
University College of Medicine, were they told
the state government and the institution
management in strong words of their stand
and from there, it was obvious that the battle
line had been drawn.
Now another question is: Did the state
government and LASU management
underrate the students after the exchange of
words over the fee hike? If they did, the
protest of Thursday, October 20, certainly
could not have caught LASU authorities
unawares because by Wednesday evening, a
day before the protest, the students had
resolved to boycott the General Studies
examination scheduled for the next day for
100 and 300 level students and embark on a
peaceful protest against the fee increment.
By 8.00am on Thursday, the students led by
their union leader, Durojaiye, had mobilised
for the “daddy of all protests” despite the
General Studies (GNS) exam slated for same
day. But in a statement, the university
authorities had warned to deal with any
student found disturbing the peace of the
institution, vowing to hand over such student
(s) to the police. Expectedly, the statement
did not move the students, who promptly shut
down the university and took over the Mile/
Badagry Expressway and adjoining roads.
The arrival of policemen from Ojo Police
post, including the area commander, did not
stop the students from carrying out their
protest against the fee hike as the security
men, it was gathered, stood at a distance,
watching the angry students barricade the
Badagry Expressway with seized trailers,
buses, and disused tyres, thus preventing
traffic flow on the three major roads as well
as locking the main entrance gate to the
The students also disrupted the ongoing
General Studies (GNS) examination, which
involved 100 and 300 level students, switched
off generating sets being used by some
faculties, ordered banks operating on the
campus to close for business and sent
construction workers working on some
projects on campus packing. The acting VC,
Professor Olatunji-Bello, Registrar, Mr. L.O.
Animashaun and the Bursar stayed away
from the campus based on security advice.
The statement from the university
management only fuelled the protest as the
students union president, Durojaiye,
instructed the students to charge towards the
administrative block. After their efforts to
get into the building proved futile, they then
put off the generating set and instructed the
construction workers to cease work. They
dared the management to sanction any
student or hand over any of them to the
The protest, which caught commuters
unawares, disrupted traffic flow and
commercial activities for over nine hours,
leading to gridlock, stretching from LASU
gate to under bridge bus-stop for those
heading to Oshodi, Mile 2, Costain, while
traffic flow from the Badagry end stretched
from Alaba Rago up to Ijanikin area. Many
commuters trekked for long distances.
The angry students’ chanted anti-Fashola,
Bola Tinubu and Action Congress of Nigeria
(ACN) songs with some, carrying placards,
describing the tuition fees increment as
outrageous. They then questioned the
rationale behind paying N18, 000 to state
workers whose wards attend LASU and how
they would get the money to pay the new fees.
The protesting students ordered motorists and
commercial motorcyclists (okada) to reverse,
chanting “Ole to Fashola, Ole to LASU
management”, Others carried large placards
with the inscription “No change, no fee
increment, no local government elections.”
Some of the students used the opportunity to
play football on the expressway, ludo game,
Whot and nursery rhymes while others
danced to music, using their mobile phones.
Like a scene from the war front, the students
watched out for any Lagos State Government
vehicle. They seized one belonging to a local
government in the state. However, no vehicle
or school property was destroyed throughout
the protest session. Some of the students took
time to educate passers-by on the reason for
the demonstration.
Some passers-by, who paid attention to the
students’ explanation on the fee increment,
decried the amount involved and wondered
how parents, earning less than N80, 000 per
month, who have fresh students in the school
can cope with the new fee increment. On
account of the students’ explanation, many
of the passers-bye tactically gave their support
to the protest and for first time, they did not
condemn the action of the LASU students.
Durojaiye, told Daily Sun amidst chants of
solidarity songs by his colleagues, that the
protest would continue until the Lagos State
Government rescinded its decision on the fee
increment. He noted that some parents were
civil servants, who earned N18, 000 as
minimum wage, which “the state government
cannot even afford to pay the workers, how
can they increase the fees by 725 per cent?”
they queried.
The students’ union president said the protest
was to send a signal to Governor Fashola and
the university management that they were
prepared to resist the fee increment, pointing
out that the state government had not invited
his union for any discussion on the issue. He
expressed the union’s disappointment with the
ACN for supporting the commercialisation of
education in the state.
In a swift reaction, the National Association
of Nigerian Students (NANS) explained that
following the refusal of government to reverse
the proposed anti-masses tuition fees, the
students staged the first phase of the seven-
phase campaign against LASU school fees
increment just to express their
disappointment with the action of the
Governor Fashola-led administration.
The Vice President, External Affairs of
NANS, Adeyemi Azeez, in a statement gave
the Governor Fashola administration 72
hours ultimatum to reverse the 725 per cent
increment in tuition fees, warning that if the
government failed, the students would proceed
to the second phase of the protest, which
would be a national one, “as the leadership of
NANS will be at the war front of the
Both Durojaiye and Azeez denied that LASU
students’ union officials met with Fashola
same day at ACN campaign rally at Mile 2
nor were aware of any proposed meeting with
the former governor, Senator Bola Tinubu,
over the issue. He equally expressed
disappointment with the party, which
promised free education at all levels during its
The protest against fee hike also got the
support of Education Rights Campaign
(ERC), which described the increment as
another attempt by the state government to
commercialise education out of the reach of
children of the poor and the working masses.
“It is saddening that this is coming from a
major opposition party, the ACN, which lays
claim to late Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s
philosophy of free education.”
The group, in a statement signed by its
National Co-ordinator, Hassan Taiwo, noted
that presently, LASU had overcrowded
classrooms, inadequate lecture halls, water-
logged environment (as a result of poor
drainage system), ill-equipped libraries and
laboratories, inadequate teaching and non-
teaching staff, lack of transportation
facilities, poor sporting facilities, poor ICT
services, among others.
According to ERC, the proposed fee
increment was not new. It added that it had
always been the case with every second term of
ACN governors, who ruled the state. It noted:
“In 2004, the immediate past governor,
Tinubu hiked the school fees from N250 to
N25, 000. This new increment is coming on
the heels of the re-election of Governor
It expressed concern over the excuse given by
the state government that it couldn’t fund
free and qualitative education at all levels,
describing the action as insincere and
unacceptable. It pointed out that Lagos State
generated the highest internally generated
revenue in the country, yet the government
complains it cannot fund university
“We call on the students’ union of LASU to
resist this increment with mass actions and
lecture boycott. Only a mass-based action can
force the state government to rescind its
decision. We also appeal to staff unions to
equally condemn the fee increment and give
support to students’ resistance.”
On Thursday, October 27, the students
stormed the governor’s office and State
House of Assembly to protest the fee hike and
also honour the invitation of the lawmakers,
who waded into impasse between the students,
university management and the state
At the State secretariat Alausa, due to security
report about their coming, the two gates were
locked and were manned by armed policemen.
At the floor of the assembly, Durojaiye
reiterated the students opposition to the
increment in fees while the Acting VC, Prof.
Olatunji-Bello, read her presentation in which
she explained that she informed the students
about the fee hike based on the government
After the special hearing, the students laid
ambush for the VC, who sensed they would be
waiting for her outside, thus stayed inside
until they left the compound.
Tension is mounting on campus over the fee
hike as the students are battle-ready to
confront Governor Fashola and the
university management over the hike but the
outcome of the assembly mediation on the
impasse may determine the next phase of
their action.

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