The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has given the management of the University of Lagos, 48 hours ultimatum to reverse the increased school fees and refund the students that have paid.
The student body also tasked other tertiary institutions and Unity Schools across the country, over increment of school fees, vowed to keep mobilizing its members nationwide to kick against such moves.
NANS disclosed this on Thursday at the press conference held at the International Press Centre, Lagos, in reaction to the disruption of its peaceful protest by the operatives of the Nigeria police which took take place at UNILAG.
INFORMATION NIGERIA reports that the press statement was co-signed by NANS National Public Relations Officer, Giwa Temitope; NANS National Vice President External, Akinteye Afeez; NANS National Deputy Senate President, Ekundina Elvis; NANS Chairman JCC, Lagos, Alimi Idris; and NANS Director Special Duties (Southwest), Adegboye Adeboye.
The statement read, “We want to start this press conference by commending the mass of Nigerian students who came out yesterday, defying police repression, and threats from the arrogant authorities of the University of Lagos.
“We salute the courage of students of the University of Lagos. We acknowledge the leadership of the NANS Lagos, Ogun Joint Campus Committees, and the entire Joint Campus Committee in South West and Zone D leadership itself.
“We commend students from the Lagos State Polytechnic and students from other tertiary institutions who came out yesterday. We give special mentions to the Obafemi Awolowo University Students Union, and the University of Ibadan Students Union for their uncommon show of solidarity. Yesterday, you all sent a strong message about the powers inherent in our collective voice.
“We want to state that the repression that was meted out on our protest yesterday in what we best term an ‘absurd’ astronomical increase in fees payable at the University of Lagos is condemnable and the height of recklessness on the part of the Police Force.
“Going as far as dispersing a peaceful gathering of students against the absurdity is in itself an absurdity and, as an association, we condemn it in clear terms. Students, and, indeed, the Nigerian people must be free to exercise their freedom as explicitly stated in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) most especially Section 40 which provides for the right to peaceful assembly and association.”
“We must state categorically that our decision to protest the fee hike was reached after the management of the University of Lagos failed to meet the terms of the agreement met with us on Wednesday, August 2nd, 2023 where the VC assured us that the fee will be reversed to the initial price and then reviewed through a joint body of students and management staff of the University.
“Unfortunately, the VC, out of her sheer disregard for agreement decided not to honour the decision made at the meeting. Rather than do that, she entered into an unholy alliance with the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State to clampdown on student protest whereby some of our Comrades were injured and some including the National PRO of the association were arrested and taken to the Police headquarters, Lagos State Command.”
“As an association, we want to state for the umpteenth time that we are against repression in any form. We condemn the arrest and hereby state that;
“We acknowledge the directive of the federal government asking authorities of tertiary institutions to halt fee increments. However, we insist that the federal government must go beyond this lip service and address the challenge of underfunding education.
“The introduction of the Students Loan Act, and the insignificant budgetary allocation to education is a great indictment and casts great aspersion on the government’s resolve to confront the deteriorating state of our institutions.
“Accordingly, the management of the University of Lagos is hereby given 48 hours ultimatum to immediately reverse the fees as agreed upon and refund students who must have paid the astronomical fees.
“Consequently, all students Union Presidents, NANS leadership, and the Nigerian students are hereby put on notice to begin mobilizations. We shall be hitting the Unilag gates again. The Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Professor Folasade Ogunshola said categorically that we can only protest for three days at the gate and leave. She dared the Nigerian students, called us weak, and insignificant. We will meet her at the barricades. The country is bleeding economically and education cannot be traded for illiteracy. It is our fundamental human rights to be educated.
“The Police authority must henceforth stop repression of students and people’s protest.
“We warned all higher education and Unity Schools never to add a kobo to the school fees. This is why we will be elaborately campaigning on the #FeesMustFall!
“Finally, we thank all Nigerians who rose when we were arrested and shot at by the police. We especially love the level of solidarity and radical statements from our campuses most especially the Great Ife Students Union, the University of Ibadan Students’ Union amongst others. The Lagos JCC, NANS Zone D, Groups, and the entire civil society. This is a joy to the heart and a poser to the fact that a new student movement is rising collectively again!”