A human rights group, Sunshine Liberation Front (SLF), has threatened “mass action” against the government of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, following an increment in the tuition of the students of the University of Medical Sciences (UNIMED) in Ondo.
The SLF said it was prepared to halt activities in the state by protesting the “wicked, evil and inhumane anti-progressive plan to shut the doors of education to the underprivileged ones in the society” by the Akeredolu-led government in the state.
The threat came a day after the management of the University of Medical Sciences released a new fee for the 2018/2019 academic session for both new and old students of the institution.
A copy of the new fee schedule obtained by SaharaReporters indicated that the students from 100 to 600 levels are expected to pay between the sum of N350,000 and N530,000 for the new academic year.
Our correspondent learnt that the students were initially paying between N182,000 and N375,000 before the introduction of the new fee.
However, the Sunshine Liberation Front, in an electronic statement signed and issued by its Director of Media and Publicity, Olugbenga Ajongbolo, said Governor Akeredolu, since inception of his All Progressives Congress (APC) government, has continued to "destroy the educational foundation in the state".
Ajongbolo stated that the increment in tuition in the higher institutions of learning in the state is a “grim pain” on the parents and a means of letting those students who can’t afford the exorbitant charges opt out of the school.
“Since its inception, the present Ondo government, led by Arakunrin ‘Rotimi Akeredolu, has inflicted more pains and wreaked further havoc on the already destabilised psyche of the citizens of the sunshine state.
“It has continued to destroy the educational foundations his forebears laid, degrade the legacies and seem determined to plunge our dear state into more educational misfortunes," the statement read.
Ajongbolo noted that the increment, without considering the plights of both the parents and their children in this period of economic downturn in the country, was another way of “extortion” by the state government.
The statement continued: “Was it not months ago that the students of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, their parents and concerned citizens took to the streets of Akure, Lagos, Ibadan, Abuja and other parts of Nigeria to protest the over 400 per cent increment in their tuition? — a school reputed to be the best amongst the rest and whose students and graduates continue to break national and international academic records, even as the least paying public institution in Nigeria.
“Arakunrin Akeredolu and his cronies have come up with another means of extorting Ondo State students in particular, and Nigerian students in general, with this newest path to raking in more internally generated revenue.
“A student paying a little above N200,000 may not return to school if he doesn't have over N450,000."
The group, however, added it had researched and noticed that the governor always has his way in the two leading tertiary institutions of the state, because of the “two hatchet men” he had appointed to head the schools.
“It's no longer strange and new that the hatchet men for these heinous crimes against humanity and right to education are being promised and rewarded with juicy political posts.
“Dr. ‘Tunji Abayomi, who championed the arbitrary increment of AAUA fees, which resulted in thousands of students dropping out of school, is gunning for a senate seat to represent the district where majority of these ‘unfortunate’ students hail from.
"Dr. Eyitayo Fawehinmi, who is currently vying for a seat at the National Assembly too, is the Chairman, Governing Council, University of Medical Sciences, Ondo.
“He is spearheading the outrageous tuition increment to satisfy his boss in exchange for a House of Representatives ticket in the forthcoming 2019 general election, at the detriment of the students and their struggling parents."
It urged Governor Akeredolu to reverse the “anti-people policy or face mass action as the group will not hesitate to ground the state to a halt by protesting peacefully".