We Call On LASUITES To Be Steadfast in the Struggle to Reverse the Hiked Fees
Last Friday, Governor Fashola issued a number of directives on the Lagos State University (LASU). The directives reportedly based on the report of the adhoc Committee of the House granted approval for the reopening of the University on Monday 24 February for final year students alone and the release of N51million for the repair of University properties allegedly damaged during the unfortunate crisis on January 23, 2014.
To start with, we must point out that these directives by the State government show the spirited campaign mounted since 1st February 2014 by the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) and LASU students organised under the umbrella platform called #SaveLASU Campaign Movement is beginning to have an effect.
We see the directives by the Governor as concessions to the agitation of LASU students over the past three weeks. On Tuesday 18 February 2014, LASU students marched on the Lagos State House of Assembly to submit a petition bearing demands for immediate reopening of the University and no to charging of students reparation on account of the allegedly damaged University properties.
We are pleased that two days after our peaceful protest, Governor Fashola has started to meet, even though not fully, some of our demands. Particularly, we welcome the approval of N51million by Governor Fashola for the repair of the University's properties instead of the previously planned agenda to charge students reparation. This shows that struggle pays and the impact our protest and agitation over the past three weeks have had and that if we continue, we can win far more.
We in the ERC and the #SaveLASU movement are confident and convinced that if a campaign of three weeks could force out these limited concessions from the government, a more tenacious campaign would gain even more. However in view of the limitations of these concessions, LASUITES need now to be more confident in continuing the struggle until all demands especially the reversal of hiked fees are met.
We welcome the partial reopening of the University. However we demand that rather than open the University for final year students alone, all students must be allowed to resume, register and write examinations. Please note that we have continued to make this demand because so far neither the University Management nor the State Government has been able to offer any credible explanation why other categories of students cannot resume alongside the Final year students on the 24 of February 2014.
Our argument is that all that prevented the second examinations from being written on 23 January 2014 was students reaction to the Vice Chancellor's obstinate refusal to open the University's portal just for 24 hours so that 1,292 students could register. Now that the University has now agreed to reopen the portal from Monday 24 February to midnight Tuesday 25, February 2014, we see no reason why all categories of students especially the 1,292 students cannot resume at the same time to take advantage of the reopening of the portal on February 24 and 25, write their examinations and thereby bring to a close this academic session which has now entered its 16th month.
This directive on partial resumption will hurt the best interests of most students including many final year students. The best interest of all LASUITES is to bring to an end this academic session which has dragged on for far too long and is now in its 16th month. On the contrary, what Governor Fashola's directive on resumption will do is extend the academic session for a majority of LASUITES. Even the best interest of a number of final year students will not be served by this ill-advised directive. For instance a number of final year students that have carryovers in 300 and 200 level courses will be unable to write the examinations of these courses by virtue of this partial reopening of the Institution. The implication is that some final year students will be unable to graduate as they will have to wait till April when other categories of students are billed to write their second semester examinations.
However now that Governor Fashola appears interested to resolve the crisis his government created in LASU, we urge him to go the whole hog by directing the immediate reversal of the hiked fees. As we have argued severally, LASU as an institution will continue to court crisis unless the root cause of disturbances which is the fee hike is reversed.
Our greatest concern however is that the fee hike is a deathpill that threatens the very existence of the University itself. Today LASU has the worst enrolment especially among State Universities in Nigeria going by its fast declining student population. From the status of a state University with one of the biggest student population, LASU now has less than 13,000 students. By the time current 300 and final year students graduate, there may be less than 6,000 students remaining in the University. This is because no one wants to go to LASU again due to the outrageous fees. Indeed an offer of admission from Lagos State University instead of being a source of joy for families has now become a matter of anguish and sorrow. There are heart-rending stories of parents selling cars, lands and other valuables to pay their children's fees. This state of affairs is unfair, unjust and anti-people.
Lagos belongs to all, not just the rich few alone. We shall therefore continue the struggle for reversal of the outrageous, inhumane, unjust and anti-people fees of the Lagos State University until the government recognises the urgency of rectifying the situation.
If we fight we may win, if we don't, we have already lost
SAVE LASU! SAVE THE FUTURE!!!
Hassan Taiwo Soweto Michael Ogundele
National Coordinator National Secretary