By: Okwun Precious
The National Association of Nigerian Students, (NANS) has called on the University of Lagos, (UNILAG) to reverse its decision on the recent increment in school fees.
UNILAG had, in a statement dated July 20, 2023, increased fees for undergraduate students in the institution following a meeting by the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), the UNILAG branch, and top management staff.
According to the statement, the union said the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Folashade Ogunsola stated that fees would be increased for UNILAG undergraduate students.
As per the increment, students of the institution studying medicine who previously paid N19,000 will now pay N190,250, while for courses that require laboratories and studios, students are to pay N140,250.
NANS, in the letter addressed to the VC of the institution, lamented that the increment was not done in good faith and cannot stand.
The letter signed by the Public Relations Officer of the body, Comr. Giwa Yisa Temitope, reads: “It is with all sense of duty and patriotism that I write to address the wave of fee increments I have come across on pages of newspapers about the University of Lagos, which is my institution of study.
“Without boring you with unnecessary rhetoric, I want to state categorically that the increment was not done in good faith and as such cannot stand. It is embarrassing that the University management took an arbitrary decision to increase various levies being paid by the students without consideration or consultation with the official student representative.
“To be clear, we are not oblivious to the age-long suspension of independent students’ unionism in UNILAG—an unacceptable situation NANS, under our leadership, is committed to reverse. But this, however, does not constitute a good enough reason for the university authorities to take a decision that would have far-reaching effects on the studentship and future of students without the decency to consult them through their official representatives, which, in the absence of a union structure, is the NANS.
“Though, if consultation were to have been done, as students, we would have still argued against fee increments because it is obviously an attempt to deny thousands of students access to education. As much as it is public knowledge that successive administrations have failed to properly (I don’t want to use the word ‘fully’ because they have obviously not been funding it) fund education, the students and their suffering parents must not be made to bear the brunt of governmental failure.
“Global statistics have shown that Nigeria has 133 million poor people and tops the chart of unemployment with 33.3%. This is not just alarming but should be very worrisome to every Ivory Tower.”” No wonder, even senior workers in the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (SSANU) at UNILAG cannot pay the new fees, as shown in their statement made available to the management and public. So, which parent can afford these obnoxious fees?
“The same way lecturers are stakeholders on the University campus, students are major stakeholders. Without students, there cannot be a university. Hence, they must be consulted before any action is taken at the University. Unfortunately, that was not done.
“I am, by this writing, on the mandate placed on me by Nigerian students, demanding an immediate reversal of the levies that have been introduced. I also demand that whatever payment must have been made by students to this effect be reversed with immediate effect.
“If and when the management sees the need for any increments, students should be called to the roundtable. However, we reject all the so-called palliatives rolled out thus far. As thinkers, we prefer to prevent sickness instead of taking pills.
“With this letter, we are asking all students of UNILAG not to pay a dime more for the old fees. We are also informing the authorities by this letter of our intention to pay a visit to the institution on Wednesday, August 2, 2023, to hold a congress of UNILAG students where all issues pertaining to the welfare of Nigerian students will be discussed.
“Should the management wish to take the opportunity of our presence in the institution on Wednesday to meet and discuss with student leaders about issues pertaining to the increased fees, we would be very happy to make ourselves available.
“We thank the management for your audience. We promise to keep being as serene and intellectual as ever!”