Students of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka Anambra State, on Monday protested alleged increase in school fees by the university authority.
The students, who marched round the school environment with placards, also blocked a portion of the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway to register their grievances.
However, the institution, through its Acting Head, Information and Public Relations, Chika Ene, had, on Saturday, refuted alleged increase in school fees of returning students of the institution for the 2020/2021 academic session.
It urged students, members of staff and the public to treat the report as fake, targeted at causing unrest and destabilizing the peace being enjoyed in the university.
But the students, during the protest, insisted that the increment was true, alleging that the university management’s connivance with the Student Union Government over the purported increment.
One of them, a third-year student who spoke to The Nation in confidence, said they decided to embark on the protest as they could not bear the increment any longer.
“When they increased the fees to over N50,000 last year, we were asked through the SUG executive to bear with the school, promising they will revert to the initial fee of about N26, 000.
“But to our surprise, instead of asking us to pay the old fees as promised, we saw additional amount to that which we paid last year.
One of the students who spoke with The Nation in confidence, said Students’ Union Government in the institution was rubber stamp and weak,” he said.
According to the source, first-year students would pay as high as N156, 000, second-year over N80,000, third-year students would pay almost N60,000 and final year students are to pay up to N70,000.
“If students at the Federal University will pay such amounts, what stops us from going to state and private universities? This is man’s inhumanity to man and we are ready to make UNIZIK hot for all of them.
“When students talk, they deploy anti-cult security men on them, is that how Nigeria will move forward? Enough is enough,” the source said.
However, the Acting PRO of the institution, Mrs Chika Ene denied the allegations, adding that such things had never happened in Unizik to the best of her knowledge and would never happen.
She described the Vice-Chancellor as a God-fearing gentleman who would never allow such things under his administration, and urged the students to have the fear of God in them.
Addressing the students in front of the administrative block, Anambra State Chairman, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Peter Onyenweife, assured the students that his executive would never be party to any form of increment.
He appealed to the students to ensure the protest was peaceful and within the confines of the campus environment.
He said: “Any student protesting outside the gate is on your own. Anybody can release gunshots from anywhere, and once that’s done, we’re all gone, and the aim of the protests is defeated.
“I’m standing here as your representative. We can never be a party to any form of increment. That’s why we’re here to plead with you…our voices must be heard.
“If this same group of students were the same students that gave me support in 2019, I want to assure you that I won’t for any reason support anything that will hurt you.
“I want to put my integrity on the line, in all honesty, the VC is currently in Abuja. But the DVC, academics who’s the second in command will brief us on his behalf.”
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academics, Prof. Fedrick Odibo, who addressed the students on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Charles Esimone, said the institution’s fee structure had been pulled down, while discussion with the Students’ Union Government was ongoing.
He said: “We’ve heard your agitations, and they’re okay. You have freedom of protest and that’s why we’re handling you as our children.
“The V-C is not around, but I’m in touch with him. He suggested he addresses you via zoom, that’s the essence of technology.
“We’ve pulled down the fees structure of the university, and we’re discussing with the students union government.”
– July 13, 2021 @ 3:01 GMT |