OAU students threaten protest over fees hike, issue ultimatum


Students of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife have given the authorities a five-day ultimatum to reverse the recent fees hike in the institution or face a massive protest by students.

At a world press conference in the university’s campus on Monday, the President of the institution’s Students Union, Mr. Abbas Akinremi Ojo said that the union executives had held a meeting with the school management and demanded outright reversal to the old regime of school fees

His words: “We shall continue to stand united and make a difference together.

“Our last congress of Great Ife held on the 14th of September ended with the following resolutions:

“That the management should make it a duty to reverse the increment in school fees.

“All financial institutions, remital, especially ignore and suspend any payment from OAU pending the time the Union will write to them; otherwise, their branches in Ife and OAU campus will be shut down.

“The congress agreed that the university management be given a 5-day ultimatum to engage the Leadership of the Union. Afterward, we hit the streets and shut down the activities on campus and the entire country if the ultimatum isn’t met.

“As a student body, we’ve played our part in these resolutions by holding a Twitter space with over 4000 students in attendance who all consensually agree the fee hike is way out of pocket.

‘We’ve also written to all respective banks to halt the acceptance of fee payments from any student until a better resolution has been achieved.

“As much as we don’t want to, we are currently running out of options and might have to shut down all activities on campus and progressively on all campuses throughout the country if the school authorities remain adamant.

“While the school authority’s excuse for school fee hike is that the federal government has stopped funding OAU, the recent release dated 15th of September listed OAU as number 9 of the top 10 funded universities with a budget allocation of N13.48.

“We are here to address the pressing issue of sudden fee hikes and the alarming state of education funding in Nigeria. Education is the cornerstone of development and progress for any nation. So, it’s sad that in a country as great as ours, education is becoming a choice only the rich can make.”

The Student Union president said the current situation in Nigeria paints a grim picture, with chronically low funding for education having severe repercussions on the society.

According to him, inadequate funding causes limited access to quality education, hinder academic resources, and already created many financial burdens for students and their families.

He said: “As education plays a pivotal role in shaping the future of our youth, the lack of resources and investment in this sector profoundly impacts their overall development. From dilapidated school infrastructures to insufficient teaching materials and outdated curriculums, students are deprived of a quality education that could empower them to reach their full potential.’

Ojo disclosed that With rising school fees and limited access to scholarships, families must bear the financial strain of ensuring their children receive a decent education.

His words: “This perpetuates a cycle of inequality, as those from less privileged backgrounds are further marginalized, hindering their chances of upward social mobility. We must address this issue and alleviate the burden on these families,

“It’s bothersome that students of a federal university like OAU pay a fee of over a hundred thousand naira and that fresh students pay almost double in a school where many students have single parents that are government workers earning a minimum wage of thirty thousand naira.”

Noting that all hope is not lost as there are viable solutions to tackle this problem, he called on the federal government to take decisive action to address the situation.

He said Government should realise that education should be treated as a fundamental right rather than a privilege.

Ojo suggested adequate increase in the budget allocation for education and ensuring that schools are well- equipped, staffed, and capable of providing quality education.

He recommended “Implementing policies that address the barriers to education, such as ensuring accessibility to schools for students by guiding against arbitrary increment, and enhancing investment in lecturers training and professional development programs to improve the quality of instruction.

“Establishing scholarship and financial aid programs to alleviate the burden on students and families”.

He said that all these measures must be taken adding that itis the responsibility of the citizens to hold government accountable.

His words: “We must demand transparency in allocating and utilizing education funds, ensuring they are used appropriately and effectively.

“I urge the federal government to prioritize education and recognize the urgent need to alleviate these funding anomalies. As stewards of our nation’s progress, they must invest in future generations and create an environment where every student, regardless of their background, has an equal opportunity to excel.

“It is only through collective action that we can bring about positive change and build a brighter future for Nigeria.”

The student leader, who said the plan to shut down activities on OAU campus would be extended to other institutions across the country if the management refused to reverse the increment, rejected the claim that the hike was necessitated by the Federal Government’s decision to stop funding universities in the country.

He insisted that from available records, OAU still ranked among the top 10 institutions in the country, receiving funds from the federal government.

He further said, “As much as we don’t want to, we are currently running out of options and might have to shut down all activities on campus and progressively on all campuses throughout the country if the school authorities remain silent on the issue.

A recent release dated 15th of September listed OAU as number 9 of the top 10 funded universities with a budget allocation of N13.4bn.”

The Punch reported that when contacted, OAU Public Relations Officer, Abiodun Olanrewaju, urged the students to know and act within their limits.

He said, “In the first instance, we have made our intention known to the parents, guardians, and students and it is not within the purview of any student to shut down the university.

“They have the right to protest. It is a fundamental human right under the Nigerian Constitution. They can demonstrate without being vandalistic, but they should also remember that they are matriculated members of this university.

“So, they are on matriculation oath and the student that violates his or her matriculation oath knows what is next.

“It is not a threat. You can dictate your actions, but you may not be able to dictate the consequences. We want the students to know and note that inasmuch as they have youthful exuberance to exhibit and demonstrate, they must also know their limits.

“If they want to engage the university administration, they are free, we are open to dialogue, we are open to negotiation. We will adjust and re-adjust.”

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