We demand immediate and unconditional reversal of the hiked fees
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) strongly condemns the repression of protesting students of Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba Akoko (AAUA) by armed policemen on the orders of the Ondo state Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu. The students were peacefully protesting against astronomical hike in school fees when policemen descended on them shooting live bullets and tear gas sporadically. On Monday 9 April 2018, a student was shot in the leg. Equally on Wednesday 11 April 2018, the peaceful protest was again attacked and several students were arrested by the police.
We condemn this mindless repression and demands the immediate and unconditional release of all those arrested. We also call for the immediate sack of the Commissioner of Police in Ondo state for carrying out such mindless and vicious attacks on students peacefully protesting against a fee hike that if allowed to succeed would cut shut their dream of receiving University education.
The right to peacefully protest injustice is a universally recognized inalienable right. We warn the Ondo state government to desist from unleashing violence on students demanding their rights. We call on the labour movement and civil society organizations to condemn the repression.
We hereby join students to demand an immediate and unconditional reversal of the hiked fees as well as increase in the subvention of AAUA and other state-owned tertiary institutions. As far as we are concerned the fee hike from about 35, 000 to about N200, 000 is anti-poor and unacceptable. Especially given the already dire
economic situation whereby workers and artisans are struggling to keep their heads above water, this hike will lead to massive dropout of indigent students. If this happens, the jobs of academic and non-academic staff will be threatened. This was the scenario that played out at the Lagos State University (LASU) within the three years that an astronomical fee hike regime was sustained.
On this basis, we therefore urge members of staff of AAUA not to be hoodwinked or cajoled to support the fee hike in the expectation that it would ensure that workers’ salaries are paid as at when due. Now workers of the institution are being owed backlog of salary and allowances spanning months. But if the astronomical fee hike is allowed, very soon hundreds of academic and non-academic staff will lose their jobs on the basis of decline in students’ population. Therefore instead of supporting the increment, we urge ASUU AAUA, SSANU AAUA, NASU AAUA and NAAT AAUA to join students to resist the increment and demand increase in the subvention to the institution.
The argument of the University’s governing council that it is cash-trapped and therefore must increase fees is unacceptable. Where is the evidence? Except concocted figures on facebook, the university has not backed this claim with any serious evidence. We therefore demand that a full statement of the University’s finances be published and that an independent panel made of elected representatives of staff unions, students unions, alumni body and other stakeholders be constituted to probe how the University’s finances has been managed or mismanaged in the last 10 years.
In any case, if the pro-Chancellor and vice chancellor of the university have no other means of rectifying the financial situation of the university except by increasing the burden of students and their poor parents, then they should resign and allow those who have better ideas to run the institution.
As far as we are concerned, education is a right and not a privilege. It is the social responsibility of government to its citizens. We are strongly of the opinion that the Ondo state government can fund public education appropriately if the state resources are placed under democratic control and management and the routine corruption of elected public office holders stopped.
We declare our solidarity with the struggle of AUUA students. We applaud the students for their courage and perseverance and urge them to escalate the struggle until victory is achieved.
Hassan Taiwo Soweto Ibukun Omole
National Coordinator (07033697259) National Secretary