We, the Legal Education Rights Agenda (LERA),a platform of law students aggrieved of the rabid commercialisation of legal education has gotten wind of the fresh one –hundred percent hike of the fees to be paid into the Nigerian Law School from the present calcifying # 220,000 to a stultifying #300,000 and we totally reject it.The fresh hike would be the fourth in the pace of less than five years.The fees was first raised from #75,000 to #150,000 which was an hundred-percent increase. It was later hiked by the ignoble Bayo-Ojo era from that #150,000 to another hundred –percent #220,000 which is the present fees and which is to be hiked to the damnable #300,000.
The law school fees hike is unjustifiable and indeed ridiculous. It is unjustifiable because the law school management / The Council on Legal Education (whose member live opulently on the nation’s public resources) does not take into cognizance, the economic reality in the country. Also, law schools are public institutions, which are funded by the government from the collective treasury; therefore, it is criminal for the law school management to commercialize what should serve as public good. Education (either ministry of Education or Justice) is a social service which must be funded by government from collective resources and not from the lean purses of poor students and their parents.. It is worthy of note to state that the law schools’ management/Council on Legal Education could not account for past fees and allocations as the law schools lack basic facilities especially living facilities while students are made to provide all the materials which ordinarily should be provided by the schools’ managements. Worse still, the students are not allowed to express their view as any view considered dissenting is censured. It is a known fact that the per capita income in Nigeria is less than $500 (less than N60, 000) while workers’ wage is averagely less than N40, 000 per month. This is aside the fact that most pensioners are living in absolute penury while the so-called small-scale entrepreneurs are finding it extremely hard to survive the adverse economic conditions. Yet, this set of people constitutes the absolute majority of the nation’s working population. With this scenario, the attempt of the law school management to continually hike the schools’ fees is deliberately meant to ensure that only the children of the very rich who constitute just one percent of the nation’s population (most of whom earn their income through legitimate and illegitimate looting of the nation’s resources), have access to quality education and subsequently quality lives – another euphemism for neo-liberal ideology of the survival of the fittest.
We allege the Council of over 600 million naira scam being the fraud it has perpetrated with the money being paid yearly by law graduates coming into the institution with apparently NOTHING to show for it in terms of available facilities on the campuses of the institution. It is on record that the major argument that the Council has been wielding for its gluttonous increase of the fees is the need to augment government poor funding of the institution to provide adequate facilities yet accommodation facilities are in decrepit state in the Enugu campus ,learning conditions on the Kano campus are in worse shape ,the Lagos and Abuja campuses can only boat little of any improvements.It is on record that as at the last intake into the institution that it could not boast of facilities to accommodate its 4,000 graduates out of the 6000 applicants from over 140 million national population . Where then do the funds go to? To certain pockets, of course.
While we regard the fact that the Nigerian Law School is under funded as any other facet of the Nigerian education sector and we campaign for upward increase of the budgetary allocation from the present meagre 7.2 percent to 26 percent as recommended by UNESCO,we reject this as basis for reckless hike of the fees. Nigerian students, especially law students must resist this policy. They must pressure their organizations to lead civil actions to stop the policy that will jeopardize the future of law students. Furthermore, Nigerian students must join hands with the workers’ movements to stop the onslaught against public education and the poor masses in general. They must force government to commit public resources to public education because Nigeria’s resources, if judiciously used could provide functional and free education for all, while also developing social infrastructures without tears. It is funny that the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has not deemed it fit to resist this policy while other students’ organizations especially the various law students’ societies and NANS have maintained criminal silence. This is not unexpected as most of the law students’ associations pose themselves egoistically as elites despite the fact that most of their members are poor. For instance, in OAU, the law students’ association has become a tool for corrupt governments officials (who are invited to public programmes on campus) while its leaderships are either corrupt or anti-student. This is a nature taken after their mother organization, NBA. NANS on the other hands has become a pawn in the chessboard of the various sections of ruling class, who have contributed collectively to the pauperization of the poor Nigerians. Gone are the days when Nigerian students teamed up with workers’ and professional organizations like NLC and NBA to defend common interests. Progressive Nigerian students must rise to the historic challenge. In sum, we view the hike as an attack on legal education itself and we will mobilize the Nigerian law students, parents, guardians and people against it. On this note, we make the following demands:
· NO to fresh #300,000 fee-hike into the Nigerian Law School.
· End to commercialisation and privatisation of legal education
· Probe Of the Council of Legal Education for 600 million scam
· total funding of the Nigerian Law School by the Nigerian Government
· immediate increase of the budgetary allocation to education from meagre 7.2 to 26 percent