The Students Solidarity Group against Fees Hike has stated that a survey it carried out has shown that substantial numbers of Nigerian university students are planning to drop out due to the hike in tuition fees.
The group made this known in a press statement released on Thursday, adding that the survey was filled by many students who also gave their condemnation of the fee hike.
According to the statement, the group revealed it is planning to hold a congress at the University of Lagos (UNILAG).
The statement reads, “We from the Students Solidarity Group against Fee Hike are gathered here today to address matters of utmost importance to the student community and the future of higher education in Nigeria.
“As you may be aware that the resounding voices of students have echoed continuously over the past three months, calling for a reversal of the recent fee hike from University of Lagos to other institutions, which has resulted in passionate protests that have not gone unnoticed.
“One of the results of this was the tokenist reduction implemented by the UNILAG management; a paltry and unscientific reduction that has been vehemently opposed bythe Students’ Solidarity Group fundamentally, due to the undemocratic nature that was employed in the decision-making process. The recurring errors committed by the Professor Folashade-led Management have continued to haunt the administration and the lapses are becoming so glaring even to the blind. It’s a shame that simple problems do not find solutions, even in the hands of supposedly revered academics.
“We have been the vanguard of the struggle that has continued to champion the rights of students as this is evident in our press statements and other forms of mass actions such as the ongoing referendum being conducted by the task force committee we set up after the Management announced its reduction.
“The demands of the #FeesMustFall movement remain sacrosanct. We have maintained that Nigeria has the resources for government to fund quality and affordable education. The major constraint is the leaning of the government to neoliberal policies that do not prioritize investments in social services such as education and health of the people, but finds it ‘economically wise’ to procure 160 million Naira SUVs for469 members of the parliament, among a litany of wastages.
“In line with the principles of democracy, we have conducted a referendum on the reduction of fees and will be releasing the survey results in the coming days as resumption is by the corner.
“A teaser into survey is that thousands of our students are on the verge of dropping out as they can still not afford the reduced fees and the palliatives announced by the Management are inadequate to cater for them. This singular fact, the management also knows but continues to deny shamelessly.
“Whatever the school has in its coffers now was because the students and their parents were forced to borrow money, beg online, beg on the streets, and engage in menial jobs, so they could meet up with the balloting exercise; a crazy hustle for scarce and overpriced bed spaces, not because they’ve stopped being indigent students.
“We have concerns, disturbing ones at that. One of such concerns is the inadequate measures to cater for indigent students as promised by the Vice-chancellor even on record. The palliatives are half measures that have not translated into concrete and workable actions, even as students are now to resume.
“We have sent in some names of indigent students and we are yet to hear from the Management. The list we have keep growing by the day. It is unfortunate that these students already have been shut out of accommodation on campus which was supposed to be their last resort since they can’t afford off-campus hostels. The burden of accommodation is now added to the burden of hiked fees. They can’t breathe.
“To add to the complaints bordering on maladministration of the UNILAG Management is to say that the process of securing student accommodation remains riddled with inefficiencies, criminal extortion and lack of transparency.
“It is disheartening to see that even with the fee hike, the school management has been unwilling to provide a smoother and more inclusive accommodation process for students. As we approach the commencement of academic activities in just four days, this inefficiency leaves many students in a state of uncertainty, which is unacceptable by the masses of students.
“It would interest you, members of the Press, to know that the UNILAG Management still has a case of extortion to answer. They will have to explain to the world which account the 390,000 Naira extra goes into, for an overpriced Sodeinde Hall wherein the price announced to the world is 135,000. We promise you that we won’t allow this criminal act to slide.
“It is also imperative to state that many of these hostels are now being privatized; the implication being that the fees will be jerked up astronomically and be priced out of the financial reach of poor students and parents. We stand against the privatization of hostel accommodation on campus. It is the responsibility of government to improve the living, teaching and learning conditions of students and staffers and not to commercialize these conditions.”
“We want to use this medium to assure Akokaites and by extension all Nigerian students that no stones shall be left unturned to force the Tinubu regime to respect the rights of students to affordable education. We will continue to mobilize across board until education becomes affordable to all. We shall take all steps necessary and within the ambits of the law to stop this crime against humanity- privatization and commercialization of education in Nigeria.
“In the coming weeks, we shall be reeling out activities of resistance in line with the demands of the #FeesMustFall movement. As we resume, we urge students to follow religiously all activities as organized by the solidarity group. Some of which are-
“1. A physical Congress on campus will be called in the coming days upon resumption to discuss all welfare issues including the hiked fees and actions that are needed to be taken to safeguard our interests as students.
“2. The Congress shall take into cognizance the importance of organizing for a vibrant Students’ Union. We wish to state that we will not wait for the management to ‘teleguide’ our Union. It is called a Students’ Union and not Management Union, for a reason. 3. Solidarity meetings with Staff Unions shall be duly held. 4. Solidarity meetings with civil society organizations, to further deepen the struggle will also take place.
“Conclusively, we wish to salute the courage displayed so far in the struggle, we appreciate the resoluteness of all UNILAG students despite the intimidation and we are confident that the time for a resurgence of activism and unionism, so as to change society for the better, is upon us at the University of Lagos. Solidarity.”