Wednesday, May 21, 2014

#CODED-ish News::OAU students protest tuition hike, block Ilesa-Ife Expressway

12:54 PM

hundreds of commuters and motorists got stuck at the Ipetumodu area on the Ilesa-Ife Expressway on Tuesday as students of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Osun State protested against the hike in fees by the management of the university.

Undergraduates as well as postgraduate students, led by the President-elect of the Students Union, Mr. Isaac Ibikunle, marched from the campus to the expressway, which links the South West to the North, and barricaded the highway with woods and tyres.

They chanted songs and refused to yield to pleas from travellers and motorists who were held down in the ensuing gridlock.

Policemen drafted to the scene pleaded with the students to open the highway, but they remained adamant. They stated that those held in the traffic would be educated on the negative effects of the action of the Federal Government in collaboration with the management of the OAU.

The angry students were on the road until around noon when most of them left the scene for the campus to continue the ongoing examinations.

The students had assembled on the campus as early as 8am and displayed placards with various inscriptions such as, "OAU students say no to tuition increment. The poor deserve quality education too."

The students blamed the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Bamitale Omole, for what they described as an outrageous increment.

The students, who vowed not to pay the new fees, said they would continue with the protest until the management would rescind the decision.

The new president of the students' union, who addressed the protesters, said the students would do everything to force the management to revert to the old fees.

Ibikunle said the new fees, if allowed, would force many indigents students to drop out of the school.

Ibikunle said, "The entire students of the Obafemi Awolowo University are angry because of the introduction of these outrageous fees. The dreams and aspirations of many students will end abruptly if these new fees are allowed to stand.

"The management increased the tuition from N17,000 to about N100,000 apart from N20,000 acceptance and accommodation fees. We have made several appeals to the management to revert to the old fees, but to no avail. We have exhausted all peaceful means, we have consulted unions in OAU and even the alumni body of the institution to appeal to the management, but all yielded no result.

"The VC told the leadership of the students' union during a meeting yesterday (Monday) that they were directed by the Federal Government to increase the fees. The management said that the Federal Government said it could no longer fund education.

"That is why we barricaded the Federal Government roads here in Ife. We are not here alone, we are also here with postgraduate students because the new fees affect them too. We are united against these outrageous fees and we will not stop until the management accedes to our demands."

The new fees announced by the OAU management showed that new students would pay N74,000 against N17,000 that had existed. This excluded the acceptance fee of N20, 000. The returning students would now be paying around N50,000 against N7,000 being paid before.

Efforts to speak with the management proved abortive as calls put across to the Public Relations Officer of the university, Mr. Biodun Olanrewaju, were not answered.

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