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Tuition hike sparks protests across universities

University students in Akwa Ibom and Anambra are protesting hikes in tuition.

University students in Akwa Ibom and Anambra are protesting hike in tuition.

Students of Akwa Ibom State University brought academic activities in the Ikot Akpaden campus of the institution in Mkpat Enin local government area to a halt  over a proposed 75% increase in tuition for fresh students.

It was learnt that with the fee hike, new students who are from Akwa Ibom State would pay N90, 000 from the initial N53,000, while non-indigenes are to now pay N120, 000.

All returning students that are indigenes were to pay N53, 000, while the non-indigenes would pay  N73, 000.

The protesting students blocked the main entrance of the institution at Ikot Akpaden campus but did not molest or prevent students or lecturers from entering into the school premises.

The protesters displayed placards with inscriptions such as ‘NANS demands immediate reversal of schools fee’, ‘#OccupyAKSU, mother of all protest’among others.

One of the students who spoke on condition of anonymity said it was unfair for the University authorities to increase school fees with the prevailing harsh economic realities in the country.

“The country is going through serious economic hardships occasioned by the COVID-19, and for the school authorities to come up with a hike in school fees at this time is very discouraging,” the source said.

Meanwhile students of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, marched round the school environment with placards, and blocked a portion of the Enugu-Onitsha expressway to register their displeasure.

The institution, through its Acting Head, Information and Public Relations, Chika Ene, had last Saturday denied alleged increase in school fees of returning students of the institution for the 2020/2021 academic session.

She  urged students, staff and the public to disregard  the report ,saying that it was targeted at causing unrest and destabilizing the peace being enjoyed in the University.

During the protest, the students  insisted that the increment was true, noting that the university Management had connived with the Student Union Government (SUG)  to hike the school fee.

“When they increased the fees to over N50, 000 last year, we were asked through the SUG executive to bear with the schoo and promised to revert to the initial fee of  N26,000,” a student who refused to be named told Daily Trust.

“But to our greatest surprise, instead of asking us to pay the old fees as promised, we saw additional amount to what we paid last year,” he said.

Speaking at the Chairman, Anambra State , National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Peter Onyenweife, assured the students that his executive would never be party to any form of increment.

“Any student protesting outside the gate is on his or her own. Anybody can release gunshots from anywhere, and once that’s done, we’re all gone, and the aim of the protests is defeated,” he said.

The Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academics, Prof. Fedrick Odibo, who later addressed the students on behalf of the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Charles Esimone, said institution’s fees structure had been brought down, while discussion with the students union government was still ongoing.

“We have heard your agitations, and they are  okay. You have freedom to protest and that is why we are handling you as our children.

“The VC is not around, but Iam in touch with him. He suggested he addresses you via zoom, that’s the essence of technology.

“We have pulled down the fees structure of the university, and we are  discussing with the students union government,” he said

The  Dean, Students Affairs, Prof. Nonso Achebe on his own called on the students to suspend the protests, assuring them of a town hall meeting with the VC  when he  returns.

“You have  registered your displeasure, please let’s meet at the round table for negotiations. The DVC has addressed you and Iam  lending my voice as the number one student.

“Let every fray nerves be calmed so we don’t spoil the good work we have  started. Let’s broker an agreement. Tomorrow by 11am,” he stated.

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