Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

UI: ERC Rejects the Plan to Increase School Fees

Students Union Should Begin to Organise Students to Resist Fee Hike and Demand Reinstatement of Ojo Aderemi and Other Politically Victimised Students

By Ben Taaffe, ERC UI

The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) University of Ibadan branch, wishes both the new and returning students including Postgraduate students a successful and hitch-free academic session as the academic activities for a new academic session has been declared to commence on the 22nd of February, 2021. This is after an unusually long break unfortunately elongated by the nine-month strike embarked upon by members of Academic Staff Union of the Universities (ASUU) to demand proper funding of the university education and the Federal government’s decision to shut down the universities following the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.

There is no doubt that the new academic session is starting at a difficult period when the vast majority of working class parents who are largely workers and artisans are still grappling with economic dislocation occasioned by the COVD-19 pandemic and economic crisis with high cost of living and high inflation. So the ERC condemn any plan of Prof. Ekanola-led University administration to hike the school. The University administration had hinted in one of the meetings held with the leadership of the students’ union of the plan to hike the technology fee from N6, 500 to N10, 000; sport fee from N1, 000 to N2, 000; medical fee from N1, 000 to N2, 000. This plan of fee hike amounts to an average of 30% hike in the school fee paid by students in the last academic session and except this is rejected it will definitely compound the economic woe of students from poor parents

In fact, it must be stressed that, the University administration lacks any moral credibility to impose an additional fee on the students. This is because all of the previous hikes have failed to translate into any meaningful improvement in both the learning and living condition of students. An accommodation fee was increased by over 100% two sessions ago without any commensurate improvement in the students living condition across the halls of residence. Facilities like toilets, bathroom including the rooms across the hall of residence are still in deplorable condition. Bedbugs still dance around the body of students as water supply continue to be as erratic as ever. It has become a regular routine for students in Independent, Nmadi Azikwe hall going as far as Kuti hall to fetch water. The spate of insecurity in the hall of residence like Awo hall has continued.

Technology fee of N6500 was introduced last academic session with a false promise that it would help to improve the provision of internet facilities within the campus. Unfortunately, there was nothing in terms of improvement that could be shown for the introduction of this fee instead the condition went from bad to worse. This therefore, raises a huge doubt over whether or not there will ever be an improvement in the internet supply with the increment in the technology fee to N10, 000. Even if the increment results in an improvement in the internet service, the question therefore is that of what benefit would it be to the mass of students especially when the university administration has already hinted that no student will be allowed to come into the university campus while all lectures are conducted online. This negates the basis for the hike in the technology fee. This is likewise the sport fee and medical fee.

It is in the light of this, ERC welcomes the decision of the leadership of the students union to reject the proposed hike and to conduct an opinion poll among the rank and file of the students to access their feeling over it, Expectedly, the outcome of the opinion poll shows that 89.6% of students have rejected the planned hike. We call on the students union to commence the process of mobilising the rank and file students for a congress to discuss with a view to agreeing on a programme of action that will be needed in order to defeat the planned fee hike.

We also call for linking the struggle against any fee hike to  the demand for immediate and unconditional reinstatement of Ojo Aderemi, and other politically victimised students. It will be recalled that Ojo Aderemi is a former president of the students’ union who was rusticated for four academic sessions by the discredited Prof Idowu Olayinka-led university administration for providing leadership to the struggle of students against the failure of the university authorities to fulfil its obligation of providing students with ID after they have paid for it.

Also important is the need to demand adequate funding of education including democratic control and management of the university system by including the elected representatives of workers and students in every decision making body up to the University Council. As far as we are concerned in ERC this is the best way we can begin to resolve all of the multiple problems bedevilling the university system

ERC however, calls on the rank and file of the students, parents and the public to give a total support for the struggle against fee hike, and also call for solidarity from ASUU, NASU, SSANU and NAAT in order for all demands of students to be won.