LASU STUDENTS PROTEST OVER CLOSURE OF E-PORTAL
Education Rights Campaign Press Statement
LASU STUDENTS PROTEST OVER CLOSURE OF E-PORTAL
ERC Demands Reopening of the E-Portal and Immediate Reversal of Hiked Fees
The terrible crisis brewing at the Lagos State University (LASU) as a result of the hike of fees got to a head today Thursday 23 January 2014. As we write, there is a student protest going on at the University and we have received reports of Police shooting tear gas and that some students may have been injured.
It all started yesterday when about 1,292 full-time students of the institution who had not completed their registration due to delay in payment of fees gathered to plead with the Vice Chancellor Prof. Obafunwa to reopen the University’s e-portal. Instead of listening to the peaceful plea of the students, the VC reportedly walked out of them in contempt. Miffed by the VC’s insensitivity, the students embarked on a mild protest yesterday. However things became more serious today Thursday 23 January 2015 – the very day the second semester examinations were billed to begin – when the aggrieved students mobilised for a bigger protest which effectively stopped examinations.
The ERC recognises that faced with the option of not partaking in the examinations since they had been prevented from registering, the action taken by the students is the only reasonable option open to them. We therefore give our full backing to all peaceful but effective effort of students of the Lagos State University to win the demand for the reopening of eportal. The ERC supports this demands and calls on the University Management to listen to students before things degenerate.
Reports available to the ERC show things could rapidly degenerate if care is not taken. Already this morning, a detachment of Rapid Respond Squad (RRS) was sighted on the campus. We are worried that as is their practice, the police will only aggravate the situation by shooting indiscriminately and thereby provoking students into a riot. It is not only wrong to invite police onto a university campus, it also exposes young people to all kinds of danger. We will hold the Management of the institution and the state government responsible if any student is injured or killed by the trigger-happy police.
We call for the immediate withdrawal of the police and the setting in motion of a democratic process to hold discussions with the justifiably aggrieved students and the students Union and staff unions on campus with a view meet their just demands.
What is behind this crisis is the unjust hike of the payable fees in the University nearly three years ago by the anti-poor Fashola administration. Fees were increased to between N193, 750 and N358, 750 depending on the courses of study while the minimum wage earnings stood at a paltry N18,000.
For the umpteenth time, the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) calls on the Lagos State Government of Babatunde Raji Fashola to immediately reverse the fees of the Lagos State University (LASU). We also call on the government to immediately resolve all outstanding labour disputes with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) so as to avoid disruption of the University’s academic calendar.
We support the opinion expressed by ASUU that LASU is now the most expensive University in Nigeria. LASU’s fee hike is not only outrageous, it has become a single factor curtailing, limiting and reversing the progress and development of the University. This is a shame to the Lagos State Government and the All Progressive Congress (APC).
Nearly three years after LASU fees was hiked by the Lagos State government with the support of a toothless State Assembly, the University has become a shadow of its former self. With record-level annual decline in admission applicants and closure of faculties and programs, the jobs of the University’s academic and non-academic staff are now threatened. Many projects are abandoned and University now gives the impression of a dying edifice thanks to the anti-poor and anti-education policies of the Fashola administration.
Unfortunately the ERC in numerous public statements and petitions warned of this same unsavoury outcome but the Fashola government, true to its characteristic disdain for public opinion including the opinion of the students of the university and their poor parents, turned a deaf ear.
We warn that unless the hiked fees are quickly reversed, no matter the value of the developmental achievement Governor Fashola may lay claim to when he leaves office, the carcass of LASU would be the only visible sign and legacy of his administration.