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Tuition: OAU students protest at Ooni’s palace, markets

The protest against the tuition hike embarked on by students of the Obafemi Awolowo University,Ile Ife, Osun State, continued on Wednesday as the undergraduates took the protest to the palace of the Ooni of Ife and market places within Ile Ife.

The students sensitised traders, drivers and artisans on the need for them to join the students to force the Federal Government to revert the fees to the old rate.

The students said the new fees would force many students to withdraw from the university and their aspirations would be dashed.

They claimed that with the increment, newly admitted students would now pay about N92, 400 and N104, 000 including acceptance fee as against N37,150 and N44, 150 previously paid.

The students said it was annoying that the Vice Chancellor of the OAU, Prof. Bamitale Omole, who was among the set of students who fought because they were not served chicken was the one spearheading the outrageous increment of fees.

The students in some pamphlets distributed called on anti-corruption agencies to probe the management of the OAU.

It read in part, “Our demands are that the university administration must publicly account for the N8bn World Bank fund last semester; proper probe into the over N300m generated from acceptance fee; proper and adequate probe into how Nigerian University Games Association fund was spent.”

The Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, promised to intervene in the crisis caused by the hike when the students took the protest to his palace.

The Ooni, who was represented by his second in command, Chief Lowa the Adimula of Ife, said he would speak with the management on the issue.

Ooni said, “We will do something and within the next 24 hours, the fees will be reversed.”

He, however, urged them to shun violence while going about their protest.

Meanwhile, the management of the university has blamed the new fees on the high inflation rate in the country and the steady dwindling subventions from the Federal Government to the institution.

The Public Relations Officer of the university, Mr. Biodun Olanrewaju, said this in a statement made available to our correspondent in Osogbo on Tuesday.

The management’s reaction followed the protests by the students of the university on Tuesday and Wenesday over the hike in tuition.

The university’s spokesperson explained that the institution could no longer cope with the old fee regime.

He urged parents and guardians to cooperate with the school and pay the new fees.

He said, “The present socio-economic situation in Nigeria has made it totally impossible for us to sustain being the best and the cheapest in Africa. Factors like the high cost of education, dwindling subvention from the Federal Government by over 50 per cent, astronomical inflation that has eaten deep into our meagre resources and electricity bills are responsible for the present adjustment of fees.

“Therefore, having carefully, critically, analytically and comparatively weighed the pros and cons of all indices that are useful for uninterrupted maintenance of our academic standard, the University Senate, at its sitting on Monday, May, 5 2014, unanimously agreed and approved that N71,150 be paid by only the new students in Humanities and Social Sciences; N78,400 by those in Sciences; N81,400 by those in Clinical Sciences and Pharmacy.”

The university urged corporate bodies and wealthy individuals to come to its aid by assisting the government in funding the institution.

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