•Jakande opposes hike, ACN seeks understanding
THE Fashola administration’s increment of fees for Lagos State University (LASU) students and toll collection on the Lekki-Epe Expressway are still eliciting divergent reactions among stakeholders.
For example, the state chapter of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has appealed to Lagosians to be patient and show understanding on the issues.
The party said the actions of the government were informed by the desire to leave indelible landmarks in Lagos and ensure that Lagosians get the best of every sector.
But LASU’s founding father, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, has urged Governor Babatunde Fashola to reverse the newly-introduced fees regime in LASU in order not destroy the state’s heritage.
Jakande, a former governor of the state, who founded the institution in December 1983, made the appeal in Lagos during the third convocation ceremony of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ), Ogba, just as he advised the Federal Government to honour the agreement it entered with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
In a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Joe Igbokwe, the Lagos ACN said it was not unmindful of the weight the increment of fees would exert on Lagosians, but said it was only for incoming students and to ensure that LASU was upgraded to one of the best institutions.
It also said it was proud of the type of work done on the Lekki-Epe Expressway and that the toll on the road was to ensure that such high standards were maintained and spread to other parts of the state.
“We note that many of our people pay higher fees in sub-standard schools in some neighbouring countries and we feel that LASU could be made attractive and well standardised for our people by charging something commensurate with the expected services the school should render. We also note that Lagosians pay far higher fees in some private universities that offer sub-standard services to our people.
“On the Lekki-Epe Expressway, we want to state that the road was concessioned to a company, which provided a world class road. The toll is only natural since the company must recover what it spent on the road. We call on Lagosians to demonstrate understanding on this issue and we want to point out that alternative roads have been provided for those that do not want to pay. “We believe this is fair enough to encourage competent companies to invest in our decaying infrastructures. Concessioning is a way of saving scarce funds for other sectors and if we acknowledge that Lagos requires over $50 billion to build and upgrade its infrastructural needs, we will see the wisdom in getting companies to build, manage and transfer some critical infrastructures in Lagos. We point out that Lagos is experiencing massive population pressure by the day and this puts a great challenge on the resources of the state that the Lagos State government alone cannot meet this rising demand,” the party said.
A lawyer, Ebun Olu Adegoruwa, had filed an injunction at the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, seeking to stop the state government from collecting toll fees at the Lekki Expressway, which is slated to begin on December 18, 2011. .
In a motion on notice filed before the court, Adegoruwa prayed for an order of injunction restraining the government and the Lekki Concession Company Limited (LCC) from collecting toll fees, tariffs or any such levies from the applicants or any other person for the purpose of granting access to and use of any portion or part of the Eti-Osa/Lekki-Epe Expressway pending the hearing and final determination of the appeal of the applicant.
Other respondents in the suit include the Lagos State Works Management Board, Attorney-General of Lagos State and Eti-Osa Local Government Council.
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) had recently besieged Fashola’s office to demand the immediate reversion of all increments of tuition fees at LASU.
Spokesperson of NANS, who is also Chairman, Joint Campus Committee (JCC,) Lagos axis, Aibana Adeyemi, described the increment of the fees to N250,000 as an “attempt to deprive indigent students of benefiting from tertiary education.”
He warned that if the governor refuses to yield to their demands, the students might be forced to confront the government.
In a statement made available to journalists, the union enumerated its demands, which include the reinstatement of LASU Students’ Union, opening of Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education and improvement of infrastructure on campuses.
However, officials of the state government refused attending to the rampaging students as security operatives barricaded the main
entrance to the governor’s office.