Public Education Under Attack: Students Rise Against Fee Hikes.

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Our attention at the STUDENTS’ SOLIDARITY GROUP AGAINST FEE HIKE has been drawn to a Press Release credited to one Mr Dele Alake whom, but for our knowledge of current affairs, we wouldn’t have known was a Media Assistant to the President.

What is more embarrassing than the statement issued in response to the cry of over 1.6 million students, is that a Government inaugurated on May 29th, 2023 is issuing statements on a letterhead of a presumed support group.

For what was supposed to be a State correspondence to the people, a letterhead captioned ASIWAJU MEDIA CENTRE was used. Who/What is Asiwaju Media Centre?

No one will take such seriously moving forward. 

We as intellectuals fighting for the survival of good governance in this country, urge the Presidency to discard this ludicrous way of information management, as it has absolutely nothing in resemblance with the modern style of running government.

We wish to state that ideally, we would not have responded but we do so now, to set the records straight and expose the misinformation and disinformation from the quarters of Dele Alake and his likes who speak for the government.

FALSEHOOD AND DECEPTION

Students at Federal Universities and recent of all, the University of Lagos, are currently dealing with the oppressive burden of an exorbitant, unconscionable, undemocratic hike in fees, contrary to the deceptive claims made in the press release that “tuition” has not been introduced.

Under the guise of “discretionary charges,” University officials have arbitrarily imposed astronomical fees for utility bills, hostel accommodation, ID cards, drug tests, course registration, examination, laboratory use, and other inanities they can’t explain. If it were not for the embarrassment it would have caused, these University officials would have added “Fees for Night guards”.

Make no mistake. If a public University is as costly as a private University, what then is “non-tuition” about that public education?

These charges are nothing but a ploy to conceal their true intentions. The true intention of the government is to hand off public education, commercialize it and introduce full-blown tuition which would only be fulfilling the recommendations of the Stephen Oronsaye’s report of 2012 that advised the government to force poor parents and students to cough out nothing less than 600,000 Naira as University fees.

BREAKING THE PROMISE OF ACCESSIBLE EDUCATION

The promise of high-quality tertiary education for all Nigerians, regardless of economic status, has been broken by the government. Countless students from low-income families who once aspired to pursue their dreams are now being denied the right to an education due to exorbitant fees. The dreams of our country’s future leaders are being crushed by greed and indifference.

But before the likes of Dele and other propagandists who work for the government start the argument of pointing us to other places, just the same way they did to justify hike in petrol prices, we want to ask when will they start comparing our sufferings too?

When we protest these hikes, we are quickly told how much fees are, in the US, UK, etc.

We wish to ask- Is the unemployment rate in the US over 33 percent? Is the youth employment over 50 percent? Is the minimum wage in the USA 30,000 Naira (Less than $35 per month)?

What about pensions? Are they poorly paid and irregular?

As we speak, our lecturers are still owed 8 months’ salaries.

Yet in all of this suffering by the masses, our political officeholders remain one of the highest paid in the World.

When will the poor breathe?

EMPTY PROMISES: LOANS ARE NOT THE SOLUTION

The government’s so-called Students’ Loans Scheme may appear to be a lifeline, but it is nothing more than a hollow promise. Burdening students with debt is not a solution. It is a calculated move to plunge them into financial ruin and extended servitude. Education should be regarded as a right, as a social investment, and not a business.

Education is not a privilege to be obtained through loans and debt bondage.

THE WAY FORWARD

We as students at the University of Lagos and in other schools are united in this common cause, and we refuse to fall victim to this well-planned deception.

We want to state unequivocally that we will not accept these hikes. They are not justifiable at all. If the “economic realities” are not favourable as stated by the UNILAG Management, it is the duty of the government to fix the “economic realities” not the poor.

Our task is to fight for accessible and affordable education, and we will not back down until our demands are met.

OUR DEMANDS

1. Immediate Fees Reversal

– We demand that the unjust fee hike in all Federal Universities be reversed immediately to ensure that education remains accessible to all Nigerians.

2. Proper Funding by the Federal Government: We demand that the Federal Government assume full responsibility for funding our Universities. It is the government’s responsibility to ensure that higher education remains accessible and affordable to all students, regardless of their financial situation. We believe that funding education is a better investment than buying Tucano jets later to fight insecurity and build prisons. It is way better than earmarking over 70 billion to buy SUVs for lawmakers.

3. Immediate Reinstatement of the democratic and vibrant Students Union: We demand that the Students Union at the University of Lagos and elsewhere be reinstated immediately and unconditionally. The Students Union is the students’ voice, and its absence violates our fundamental right to representation and collective action.

JOIN THE RESISTANCE

Our struggle is for the future of our beloved country, not just for ourselves. We encourage all students, parents, and concerned citizens to join us in our fight against this calculated assault on education. We call on government to revert fees immediately and fund education properly.

We will win together! We will build a better Nigeria together!

#RevertFees.

#SaveUnilagStudents

#FeesMustFall

Signed:

Adetola Oluwatosin

Oyelumade Oluwakemi

– For the Secretariat,

STUDENTS’ SOLIDARITY GROUP AGAINST FEE HIKE

Press Statement Issued on 26th of July, 2023

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