James Sowole in Akure

For several hours, students of the Ondo State-owned Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko (AAUA), Monday shut down Akure, the state capital, protesting the increase in the tuition fees to be paid by both fresh and returning students of the institution.

The protest came just as the Ondo State House of Assembly (ODHA) dissociated itself from the new fees announced by the Governing Council of the school.

The Assembly at a news conference said the action of the AAUA Governing Council negated the agreement reached that all critical stakeholders particularly the House should be carried along before any increment is announced.

Addressing journalists, the Chairman of the House Committee on Information, Hon. Fatai Olotu, said the announcement would be revisited.

“As representatives of the people, we dissociate the House from the proposed fee announced by the Governing Council because what was done was contrary to the agreement we reached.

“We are urging all parents and students to remain calm as steps are being taken to ensure that fees to be paid are agreed upon by relevant stakeholders,” Olotu stated.

The students, who were joined by the leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and National Association of Ondo State Students (NAOS), trooped out in their hundreds and locked down the major Oyemekun/ Adesida and A Division/Hospital roads.

The action of the protesters caused gridlock in all adjourning streets where traffic was diverted.

As a result of the protest by the placard-carrying students, commuters were stranded and were forced to trek long distances while creating opportunities for commercial motorcycle operators to make brisk business due to their ability to manoeuvre in the situation.

Some of the placards carried by the visibly angry students read: “No to Increase in School fees”, “Akeredolu, This Is Wickedness” and “We No Go Agree To Fee Hike; among others.

The protesters were joined by some market women, who said many unprintable words against the state government and Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu.

One of the students, who spoke passionately about the situation, said there was no way her mother who is the only one catering for her and her siblings could cope with the situation.

“This hike in fees will force many of us to drop out of the school. I am a 300 Level Law Student. My sister just gained admission into AAUA. My mother is the only one that had been responsible for our upkeep on N80,000 salary per month. How can we cope if we add the cost of accommodation and other things. This is unfair. I am finished,” she lamented.

The AAUA had last week in a statement signed by the Head of Public Relations of the school, Mr Sola Imoru, disclosed that fresh students in the Faculties of Arts and Education are to pay N150,000 while the returning students are to pay N120,000.

For the Faculties of Science, Agriculture, Social and Management Sciences, fresh students are to pay N180,000 just as returning students are to pay N150,000.

The statement also revealed that fresh students in the Faculty of Law are to pay N200,000, while returning students are to pay N180,000.

Before the current increase, the students had been paying between N25,000 and N35,000 per session.

The President of the AAUA Students Union, Olawale Ijatuyi, had directed the students not to pay any money or register until a directive is given by the students’ body.

On the contrary, students of the Ondo State-owned University of Science and Technology (OSUTECH), Okitipupa rose stoutly against the action of their colleagues at AAUA who protested the hike in fees.

The OSUTECH at a press conference in Akure, said they and others at the University Medical Sciences (UNIMED), Ondo had all these years been paying high fees without anybody including NANS raising any high brow.

“With the present economic situation, how is it feasible for students in a state-owned institution that want to compete with their peers in world class institutions think they can continue to pay between N23,000 and N37,000 per session?” They asked.

The students led by Phillip Ifeoluwa said if the government should revert to the old tuition at AAUA, “our tuition at OSUTECH would have to be reduced to between N23,000 and N37,000 per session”.