Fees increase: SERAP threatens to sue UI, AAUA

OAU

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has threatened to institute legal action against the authorities of the University of Ibadan (UI) and Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba (AAUA) if they fail to reverse the increases in fees recently introduced in their respective institutions.
The organisation, in a statement issued by its deputy director Timothy Adewale, on Thursday, posited that the increases would have telling effect on disadvantaged students who may be unable to pay the new fees, and who are not granted an exemption.
It further argued that the inability of the students to pay the fees would result in an absolute deprivation of a meaningful opportunity for them to enjoy educational benefit, adding that such situation would create a classification based on the economic and social status of the parents of affected students and undermine the students’ rights to education and equal protection guarantees.
The University of Ibadan had increased fees for students’ professional training and accommodation while Adekunle Ajasin University increased the tuition fees.
According to reports, the premier university increased the professional fees to between N75,000 and N100,000 per student, while the accommodation fee in the hostel was raised from around N14,000 to N40,000 per student.
The AAUA increased school fees from about N35,000 to as high as between N120,000 and N200,000 per session.
SERAP added that the universities ought to have carefully considered the effects of high fees on accessibility and the vision of education that they seek to achieve.
They, however, advised the universities to find solutions to their funding difficulties elsewhere and threatened to take appropriate legal action against them if they fail to reverse the fees within seven days.
The statement read in part: “Students that are unable to pay these fees may become disillusioned, gradually disassociate from the universities, and eventually drop out entirely. When a student is excluded from gaining the full benefits available in public school because of inability to pay fees, the effect is exclusion which naturally imposes a lifetime hardship on a discrete class of students not accountable for their disabling status.
“SERAP also urges the leadership of the National Assembly to come up with legislation that would: end arbitrary imposition of fees in our public schools; grant exemptions to students from disadvantaged background; ensure that our universities are adequately funded on an equitable basis to ensure the proper exercise of the rights to equal protection of law and education and redress inequalities in education provision.
“The right to education is too important to be left to the budgetary circumstances of individual university or socio-economic status of parents and families. Any perceived financial hardship faced by the UI and AAUA cannot justify the violations of the students’ constitutional guarantees of equal protection and Nigeria’s international obligations to ensure equal access to the right to education. The right to education is not a commodity for sale.
“Nigeria cannot continue to compete and prosper in the global arena when university students are chased away because they cannot afford to pay fees. And if Nigeria cannot compete, it cannot lead. If our students continue to face victimisation, discrimination and exclusion on the grounds of their socio-economic status, Nigeria will become a nation of limited human potential. It would be tragic if the authorities at UI and AAUA and the government of President Muhammadu Buhari allow this to happen.
“While the increases in fees may be financially necessary, they are illegal, as they amount to victimisation and discrimination of students from disadvantaged sectors of the population, contrary to the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights both of which Nigeria has ratified.
“SERAP notes that section 12 of the University of Ibadan Act prohibits discrimination on grounds such as social and economic status. It provides that ‘no person shall be subjected to any disadvantage in relation to the University’.
“The increases also violate the right of the students to equal protection of the law, as guaranteed by sections 17, 18 and 42 of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended). Equal access to education is a human right and necessary for the enjoyment of other human rights. It is the very foundation of good citizenship. The opportunity of an education, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms, regardless of ability of parents to pay.
“No students from disadvantaged sectors of the country have the means to change or control the financial status of their parents. Therefore, any denial of an educational opportunity to such students based on their inability to pay a fee would be grossly unfair and unconstitutional.
“Education provides the basic tools by which individuals might lead economically productive lives to the benefit of all. The UI and AAUA cannot ignore the significant social costs that would be borne by our country when disadvantaged students are denied the means to absorb the values and skills upon which Nigeria’s social order rests.”

OAU dons appointed VCs

OAU

Two professors from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile – Ife, have been appointed as Vice Chancellors of two newly established Universities as approved by the Federal Government

A release by the Public Relations Officer of the University, Mr. Abiodun Olarewaju, stated that while Professor Muheez Alani DUROSINMI, of the Department of Haematology and Immunology in the Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, College of Health Sciences, was appointed as the pioneer Vice Chancellor of Eko University of Medicine and Health Sciences; Professor Sola EHINDERO, of the Department of Education, Faculty of Education was appointed as the pioneer Vice Chancellor of Atiba University, Oyo, Oyo State.

Describing the newly appointed Vice Chancellors as round pegs in round holes, Professor Eyitope Ogunbodede, the Vice Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile – Ife, admonished them to use their wealth of experience as seasoned academics of international standing to make their respective University a citadel of intellectualism where students would be grounded in sound morals and academic excellence.

Attesting to their administrative and academic competence to run their Universities, Professor Ogunbodede said only academics of unquestionable credentials like Professors Ehindero and Durosinmi could be appointed as pioneers because their sound moral compass and native intelligence would be massively deployed  to vigorously navigate their Universities to an enviable harbour.

Professor Ogunbodede, then, pledged the readiness of his administration to assist them so that, as ambassadors of Great Ife, their pioneering efforts will record grandiloquent breakthrough.

He, then, prayed that God will grant them divine wisdom and knowledge in their new assignments and wished them a successful tenure.

OAU declares end of year break

OAU

The management of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile Ife has announced an end of year break for students of the institution.

A release from the Pubic Relations Officer (PRO) of the university, Abiodun Olanrewaju, said the break was necessitated by the hardship imposed on the system by the ongoing strike of its non-academic staff.

It then gave the students till 4.00 pm of Wednesday, December 6 to vacate their halls of residence.

Below is the release:

“As a result of the unpalatable occurrences occasioned by the strike action of the Obafemi Awolowo University branch of the Non – Teaching Staff, which comprises  Non Academic Staff Union (NASU), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT), the Senate of the University, at its emergency meeting held today, Tuesday, 5th December, 2017, has approved that the Students of the University should proceed on an “End of the Year” break with immediate effect.

“A release by the Public Relations Officer of the University, Mr. Abiodun Olarewaju, stated that the Students have been asked to vacate their Halls of residence latest by 4:00pm on Wednesday, 6th December, 2017.

“Accordingly, the general public, particularly the Parents / Guardians of our students have been asked to note this latest development and ensure that their children and wards are prevailed upon to comply with this directive.

“Consequently, the students are expected to resume on Tuesday, 2nd January, while lectures commence on Wednesday, 3rd January, 2018. While we pray for journey mercies for our students to their respective destinations, we also wish them a Merry Christmas and Prosperous 2018″.

No plans to increase tuition – OAU

OAU

The management of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile Ife has refuted the allegations that it was planning to increase payable fees in the next academic session.

According to a statement from the university’s Public Relations Officer (PRO), Abiodun Olanrewaju, on Monday, the institution never tinkered with such idea, describing the rumour as ‘unfounded and terribly mischievous’.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the University Management wishes to inform the general public, particularly our Students, their parents and, or guardians, that Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, is a Federal Government Institution with well-structured administrative organ. It is, therefore, not possible to change the fees structure without discussion at the various levels.

The release also admonished students of the university to shun all acts capable of truncating the ongoing second semester as it expressed disappointment over ‘unethical and embarrassing developments within the Students Union’.

“Students are hereby strongly advised to shun the rumours and they should remain law-abiding and go about their studies without indulging in any act that can truncate the smooth running of the second semester.

“Accordingly, the management wishes to emphatically state that it will not condone any act of lawlessness, vandalism or brigandage from any student or group of students; and will not hesitate to invoke sanctions on any erring student who, either by actions or utterances, have violated their matriculation oaths,” the statement read.

Group condemns suspension of member, others by OAU

OAU

The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) has condemned the suspension of its National Secretary, Omole Ibukun, and three others by the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife’s management over their participation in a recent protest at the university.

The group, in a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Hassan Taiwo Soweto, sought immediate and unconditional release of the affected students.

See the statement below:

PRESS STATEMENT

OAU: SUSPENSION OF STUDENTS’ LEADERS FOR PARTICIPATING IN PEACEFUL PROTEST AGAINST POOR WELFARE CONDITIONS BY MANAGEMENT IS UNJUSTIFIABLE AND CONDEMNABLE

  • FOR IMMEDIATE AND UNCONDITIONAL REINSTATEMENT OF IBK AND OTHER VICTIMISED STUDENTS

We in the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) strongly condemn the suspension of 4 students activists and  leaders of the students’ union of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, over students’ protest against power outage and poor living and learning conditions. This latest suspension brings to 8 the total number of students activists that have so far been victimized in the last few months.

One of those suspended is Omole Ibukun (aka IBK). He is the National Secretary of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) – an organization committed to struggles for improved funding of education and democratic management of schools.

We hereby demand immediate and unconditional reinstatement of Omole Ibukun – the National Secretary of Education Rights Campaign (ERC), Jacob Tosin – Vice President of Students Union, Oluwalade Babatunde – Chairman Students’ Transport Management Committee and Udeh John, who were suspended for joining other students to protest deleterious conditions on campus of the university. We also demand the recall of the 4 post-graduate students earlier suspended for peacefully protesting against extension of their programme and increment in fees. We call for a halt to further victimization and attacks on students democratic rights. Freedom of expression and assembly are inalienable rights.

We appeal to the Governing Council and the visitor to the University to call Prof. Ogunmodede to order. This is a Vice Chancellor that has not spent up to 6 months in office and he has already suspended a total of 8 students (4 undergraduate and 4 post graduate) for peacefully protesting against anti-student policies. We also urge the mass of OAU students, staff unions in the university, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), trade unions and all Nigerians who hold fundamental rights to freedom of thought and speech in high esteem to support the demand for immediate and unconditional reinstatement of the suspended students and improved conditions of learning and living in the university.

We reiterate our position in the ERC that victimizing students’ activists – who raise concerns over the degeneration of academic infrastructures, quality of learning and mismanagement of University funds – is despotic and an assault on the right to freedom of speech and assembly.

Until the protest of students on 6th October (almost a week after reopening of the university), the University was in complete darkness due to power outage, making healthy living and learning on a campus characterized by overcrowded lecture rooms and hostels impossible. It is crucial to note that coupled with the power outage is an embarrassing situation of bed-bug infested hostels, which these students formally complained about before vacation, and still resumed into same few weeks ago.

We therefore received with shock the news that while implementing the congressional resolution of the students’ union for a lecture boycott over abject conditions of learning and living, some activists were hounded, indiscriminately beaten and hurled into police custody at Moore, Ile-Ife by security personnel of the University on the order of the Vice-Chancellor. The detained students, some of whom became victims of the new suspension order were released due to the intervention of a lawyer employed by the leadership of the Students’ Union for that purpose.

The suspension of Omole Ibukun, Jacob Tosin, Udeh John and Oluwalade Babatunde in connection to this matter was unjustifiable and carried out in violation of the principle of natural justice. This is so because none of the victimized students was queried or invited to any panel of the varsity for the purpose of responding to the allegations levied against them by the University management. The university has hinged their suspension on a so-called Police investigation. However, the only shred of justification for the suspension becomes spurious given the fact that none of the victimized students were (or have been contacted) by police authorities concerning any investigation.

We have no doubt that the current suspension is no more than a ploy to dissuade students from raising concerns over their deleterious conditions of learning and living, and which is in sync with the despotic style of the previous substantive Vice-Chancellor who resorted to victimization of activists when questioned over the management of billions of Naira released to the university by the federal government between 2014 and 2016. The intention of the management, beyond the trump-up charges adduced as offenses, becomes apparent given the fact that some students of the University’s post-graduate college were similarly suspended after protesting against policies of the university they considered inimical to their interests.

We in the ERC reiterate that the suspension of students as response to their demands for improved conditions on campus is unacceptable in a democratic society, especially in a University where students are supposed to be encouraged to think and speak critically