Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola
A protracted crisis at the Lagos State University over fee hikes that have outraged students and led to protests reached another juncture yesterday with Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola of Lagos State proposing a reduction of tuition.
Mr. Fashola made the proposal during a meeting yesterday with the protesting students. The students, under the auspices of Education Rights Campaign (ERC), are demanding full reversal of the hiked fee. They have staged several rallies and protests to press their case.
At the meeting, Mr. Fashola offered to reduce, rather than reverse, the hiked fee. He teased the students and members of the ERC to consult among themselves and propose an acceptable reduction.
After the meeting, some of the student executives in the ERC told SaharaReporters that, even though they would hold meetings and consult with other activist groups, they remain committed to fighting for a total reversal.
“In fact, we believe education should be totally free and not an option of a reduced fee. The government has every resource to achieve that,” said Mr. Hassan Soweto of the ERC.
One protester claimed that, following the controversial hike, the school has continually has had a low number of choice applications from candidates in the annual Unified Tertiary Examinations.
Sources within the school told SaharaReporters that, this year, no disciplinary faculty in the institution has up to 500 students.
“This year, for example, there are only 15 students in the Faculty of Law,” the source said. He added that the institution may be considering the option of merging departments and laying off some of the lecturers due to the unfortunate decline in the number of students wishing to enroll at the university.
“It’s sad that the Lagos State government is betraying the legacy of the late great Chief Awolowo who laid the foundation of free education,” said one of the student leaders.