The Protest March to Lagos House of Assembly will Continue
(1) We have received the news of the announcement of resumption of the Lagos State University (LASU). Ordinarily the announcement of resumption this month after the unfortunate closure of January 23 is a news that should be received with joy by all LASU students especially considering that students have spent about 16 months in the same level.
(2) However going by the details of the new academic calendar decided this past week by the University's Senate, students' joy cannot be complete. Indeed the new academic calendar again shows how deceitful, vengeful and insensitive the Prof Obafunwa-led University Management and the Babatunde Raji Fashola-led State Government are.
(3) This is because instead of opening the University for all students to come in, register and write their examinations, the new academic calendar is contrived in such a way that only final year students will resume by February 24 to start examinations by Monday 3rd of March 2014. Curiously by 10th to 13th March 2014, screening exercise for fresh students will commence with Matriculation of Fresh students expected to take place on 28th March 2014. It is only after Fresh Students have matriculated and commenced lectures in a new Academic Session that other categories of students in 100, 200 and 300 levels will now resume on April 1st to start their own second semester examinations on 7th April.
(4) What this practically means is that students in 100, 200 and 300 levels will lose additional 3 months of their life after already spending about 16 months in the same Academic Session due to the 6-months ASUU strike last year and other disturbances. While we welcome the fact that final year students will be able to graduate and go for their National Youth Service, we nevertheless believe it is unjust and unfair to delay other categories of students for another two months. We therefore demand that all students from 100 level to final year be allowed to resume on 24 February 2014 to register on the portal and commence the second semester examinations.
(5) We do not see any theoretical or practical reason why all categories of students from final year to 100 level cannot resume on 24 February 2014, register on the portal and write their examinations in order to conclude the current academic session which ordinarily all things being equal should not take more than 8 months to conclude but has now been stretched into nearly two years to the detriment of students.
(6) The immediate cause of the January 23 crisis was the obstinate refusal of the University Vice Chancellor to open the University portal for just 1,292 students to register and write examinations. According to the new calendar, this same portal is to be opened for final year students only from 24 February to midnight of 25 February 2014. Why exactly is it not possible for all students including the 1,292 students who have not registered to take advantage of the opening of the portal to complete their registration and commence their examinations?
(7) We believe these resumption dates are dubious, mischievous, divisive and vengeful. The new calendar shows to any discerning mind that the University Management has an evil agenda it is plotting against students taking advantage of its powers to unilaterally define the academic calendar.
(8) Firstly, this calendar is meant to cause division among students. It is no more hidden that the University Management and the State Government want to undermine the resolve of LASUITES to fight for the reversal of the outrageous fee hike of the Lagos State University which is the root cause of the crisis of January 23 2014 and the rapid decline in student enrollment and decay of facilities that the University has been experiencing since 2011. This they want to achieve by dividing final year students against other category of students which is what has informed the curiously mischievous resumption dates agreed by the Senate.
(9) Secondly, the Calendar is vengeful because it seeks to punish by wasting three months of their lives students in 100, 200 and 300 levels who are seen by the University Management to be the instigators of the January 22 and 23 protests. This the University Management wants to achieve by delaying their resumption till April 1, 2014 through a dubious academic calendar.
(10) What the management is also planning to do is to single out these categories of students for payment of reparation charges for the alleged damage to the University's properties during the January 23 protest. This is in spite of the continous opposition of students to reparation as it was the insensitivity and highhandness of the University management particularly the Vice Chancellor that was responsible for the degeneration of the crisis. We therefore demand that instead of charging students reparation, Management should make use of the N10, 000 caution fees students of the University pay in their first year. As we have opined severally, caution fees were introduced into students fees for purposes of any damage to University properties so we do not know why any new payment must be made by students when damage which rarely occurs has occurred
(11) Thirdly the new academic calendar is dubious and thoroughly mischievous because it seeks to continue to impose the outrageous fee hike of N193,750 and N348,750 in the face of widespread agitation for its reversal from LASUITES, parents, civil society organisations and Lagosians. This is what explains the fact that the University Management wants to admit fresh students and matriculate them before allowing 100, 200 and 300 levels students back on campus. The fear of the University management and the State Government is that if 100, 200 and 300 levels students are on campus while Fresh students are undergoing their screening exercises, there could be renewed protests and demonstrations against the outrageous fee hike. All this shows that the Babatunde Raji Fashola Government is not a listening government.
(12) As we have argued severally, outrageous fee hike is the root cause of crisis in LASU and reversal of the fees, adequate funding and democratic management of LASU are the only solutions. Today the mass majority of people in Lagos, except of course the few who benefit from the government, are opposed to the continuous charging of N193,750 and N348,750 as fees in LASU. A genuine government elected by the people would have no choice but to reverse the fees. Unfortunately the Lagos State Government is not prepared to take this honourable course of action.
(13) Therefore the Save LASU Campaign Movement at its MASS MEETING of Saturday 15 February 2014 has decided that the reopening of the University is just one out of several demands of LASUITES and that until other demands especially the demand for immediate reversal of the hiked fees is met, the protest march to the Lagos House of Assembly scheduled to hold on Tuesday 18 February 2014 shall continue.
(14) The Save LASU Campaign Movement calls on all LASUITES, parents, workers and Lagosians who are concerned about the crisis in LASU to join us on Tuesday 18 February 2014 at the Textile Labour House, 10 Acme Road, Ogba Lagos by 10am for a protest march to Lagos House of Assembly to submit a petition demanding the following:
(A) Reopening of LASU on 24 February 2014 for ALL Students to register and commence the second semester Examinations.
(B) Reversal of LASU fees
(C) Adequate funding of LASU
(D) Democratic Management of LASU
(F) No payment of reparation
(G) No victimisation of any student
SAVE LASU! SAVE THE FUTURE!!!
Hassan Taiwo Soweto