James Sowole in Akure
Students under the aegis of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and National Association of Ondo State Students (NAOSS) on Monday disrupted activities at the state Scholarship Board, Akure to protest what they described as anti-education policies of the Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu’s administration.
The aggrieved students, who besieged the road that led to the Government House, locked the gate of the office of the scholarship board and blocked the road that leads to the Government House from “A Division”.
The protesters decried the non-payment of bursary, government stoppage of payment of WAEC fees for students in the Senior Secondary Three and Junior Secondary School.
Other concerns raised by the protesters were plan by government to scrap free education in primary and secondary schools and an alleged plot by the government to increase the tuition fee of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko from about N40,000 to N200,000.
The students carried placards with different inscriptions such as: ‘Governor Akeredolu Pay our Bursary, No School Fee Increment’; ‘Poor Parents cannot Afford Huge Tuition Fee’; ‘Akeredolu: Stop Your Anti-education Policies; ‘Akeredolu is a Serpent’ among others. They vowed not to rest until their concerns are addressed.
Speaking with journalists, the President of NAOSS, Mr. Olanrewaju Akeredolu and another student leader, Oluwaseun Ariwajoye said the students were yet to enjoy bursary and scholarship since Akeredolu assumed office last year. They said all efforts made by the NAOSS and NANS to meet the governor over their plight failed.
The students therefore gave the state government a seven-day ultimatum to meet the students’ demands or face a mega protest that would shut the entire government’s activities in the state capital.
“To worsen it all, we heard that the state government is increasing tertiary school fees to N200,000. All these are becoming unbearable for the students.
“Last December, the same administration cancelled the payment of WAEC examination fees for secondary school students.
According to Akeredolu, the association has made many efforts to get the attention of the governor through letters, consultations and pleas but all to no avail.
Reacting to the situation, the state government expressed its readiness to pay the outstanding bursary and scholarship of tertiary institution students from the state this year.
Similarly, it denied plan to increase the tuition fee of the state-owned tertiary institutions, assuring parents that outrageous school fees will not be imposed on students of the Adekunle Ajasin University.
The Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Yemi Olowolabi explained that funds that would be used to settle the students’ bursary and scholarship have already been provided for in this year’s budget.
Olowolabi, who noted that the current school fees in the state owned tertiary institutions are no longer sustainable, however pointed out that Akeredolu would not allow the governing councils to introduce unrealistic tuition fees in the schools.
He dismissed the insinuation that the administration is engaging in anti-people education policies.