The University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos, has said its fee is not the highest among federal universities in the country.
Recently, UNILAG reviewed its obligatory charges but the National Association of Nigerian Students decided to protest against the increment on Wednesday.
On Wednesday morning, some NANS members who made an attempt to protest at the school’s gate were stopped and tear-gassed by security operatives.
A top principal officer who does not want his name mentioned told The PUNCH that the NANS members calling for the protest were no longer students of the institution and therefore had no right to call for protest on behalf of UNILAG’s authentic students.
He explained that from his records, over 75 per cent of the students had paid the fees, saying it was not UNILAG’s students that called for the protest.
“It is a calculated attempt, and from our records, over 75 per cent of our students have paid. These boys are opportunists our students are on holiday so there wasn’t any protest. They are just using UNILAG to gain clout. And we don’t have the highest fee, and we are not the only one charging fees.”
He emphasised that UNILAG’s students were on holiday and were not in any way around the school premises or at the gate to join any protest.
Some protesters arrested on Wednesday while protesting fee hike at the University of Lagos have regained their freedom. Some of the protesters, Adeyeye Olorunfemi, Philip Olatinwo, Aduwo Ayodele and the National Public Relations Officer of the National Association of Nigerian Students, Giwa Temitope, were released from the state Criminal Investigation Department, Panti unit of the state police command.
The students were picked up by the police at UNILAG Junction where they had gathered to protest. They were heard chanting “Fees Must Fall Now!” The students dispersed after police fired tear gas at them.
Calls and messages made to the state police PRO, Benjamin Hundeyin, have not been responded to as of press time.
Speaking while confirming their release to our correspondent, one of the student leaders, Adeyeye, said, “Nine of us were arrested, eight students and a plumber. The congress of students resolved to convene in 48 hours if nothing progressive is heard.”
The UNILAG management in July 2023 increased fees from N19,000 to N190,250 for students studying medicine while for courses that require laboratory and studio, the students were to pay N140,250. The management cited “prevailing economic realities” as reasons.
The Students Representative Council of Obafemi Awolowo University Students’ Union in a statement said, “Our generation will not stand by while the cost of education becomes an insurmountable burden. We will fight for affordable education for all. We also urge all stakeholders, including the government and educational institutions, to engage in open dialogue with students,” the Speaker, deputy speaker and clerk of the union, Ganiyu Yusuf, Akande Peter, and Praise Adesoji, respectively, said on Wednesday.
The Education Rights Campaign and the Socialist Workers League led by Adaramoye Michael and Frances Akinjole respectively also condemned the arrest of the protesting students, saying education remains a fundamental human right.
“Education is a fundamental human right that is enshrined in the constitution of Nigeria. Increase in fees at the university and other tertiary institutions is a blatant attack on this right,” Adaramoye stated. “We stand in solidarity with the demands of the student movement and call for all student bodies, trade unions, and other civic organisations, both nationally and internationally to stand in solidarity with UNILAG students,” Akinjole added.
On her part, the spokesperson for UNILAG, Adejoke Alaga-Ibraheem, said the university management was not against lawful protest.
“The university is not against lawful and peaceful protests by our students. Our students, who are currently on vacation, are enjoined to channel all grievances through the Dean, Student Affairs, who is officially empowered to interact with students,” she said