Students of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), located in Ile-Ife, Osun state, have initiated a protest at the main campus premises.
The protest is in response to the institution’s management’s decision to implement a 15% reduction in the recently hiked tuition fees, instead of the students’ demand for a 50% reduction, as reported by The Nation.
Earlier in September, the institution’s management had announced a 300% increase in school fees during an emergency meeting. However, in an effort to appease the disgruntled students, the management later reduced the increment by 15%.
Expressing dissatisfaction with this minimal fee reduction, the students gathered at the main gate of the campus at 7 a.m. on Tuesday. They displayed placards and chanted solidarity songs to emphasize their demands.
The placards bore inscriptions such as “Fee must fall,” “Let the poor breathe,” “Mama Dey sell full, papa Dey tide Okada where you wan make I see 90k” (translated as “While mothers are selling wares, fathers are struggling with motorcycle taxis, where do you expect me to find 90k?”), “You Dey whine – fee must fall,” and “Education sector is bleeding.” The aggrieved students barricaded the entrance of the gate, causing disruptions to vehicular movement.
Akinremi Ojo, the leader of the institution’s student union, emphasized their demand for a 50% reduction, stating, “Weeks ago, we issued a warning that we would shut down activities in the school if the management failed to meet our demands. We have declared that this protest will continue daily until our demands are met.”
The institution’s public relations officer, Abiodun Olarenwaju, commended the students for their peaceful demonstration. He urged them to prevent any potential hijacking of the protest by hoodlums.
Olarenwaju stated, “I expected them to direct their grievances to the appropriate authorities, such as the federal ministry of education, finance, and even the Chief of Staff to the President. We decided to reduce the initial fees imposed when the student union leadership consistently demanded negotiation. We engaged in meetings with them and explained that the 50% reduction they seek would not be sustainable in the long run.”
“We proposed a meeting, but they exhibited youthful exuberance, and we are permitting them to express their frustrations. We have been here since morning, standing together. They are our children, and we are their local guardians. Nothing is ruined,” he added.