Students of Yaba College of Technology, Yabatech, on Saturday demanded for improved welfare, more conducive learning conditions, better security within the campus, end to arbitrary increase in fees, improved power supply and lifting of the ban on students’ unionism from the management of the institution.
The students who made the demand in a statement they issued under the aegis of Yabatech Students Congress complained about the deteriorating state of facilities and security in the institution despite steady increases in various fees being charged by the management in the past two years.
The students lamented that while “it is evident that all is not well with the College,” the management of the institution has been able to present a façade of ‘state of orderliness’ through various antics which amounted to oppression of the students.
The Congress accused Yabatech management of allowing facilities necessary for their day to day survival in the halls of residence in the 70-year old College to become decrepit, thus forcing students to adapt to ‘strange living conditions’ which, according to them, has been responsible for mass failures and is putting the health of students in danger.
Specifically, the students complained poor power supply to academic zones and dormitories at critical hours ( particularly examination period), erratic water supply, poor health facilities, poorly maintained classrooms and lavatory structures, poor drainage system leading to flooding of academic areas on campus during rainfall, bad road network, inadequate provision of bed spaces to students due to failure of the management to properly manage the aftermath of the Bakassi female hostel gutted by fire last year, as well as quality caretaking of similar existing structures, bedbug infested mattresses, hostels and classrooms and so on.
“This is happening on a back drop of consecutive increments in school fee and every other ‘payable’ in the last two sessions at a time when the country is battling economic recession, massive labor downsizing in the private sector as well as the inability of the government at all levels to pay above the miserly 18,000 minimum wage.
“Many a student whose parents and guardians are civil servants, artisans, traders etc are largely affected by these challenges. One would expect that there would be improvement in these critical areas based on the recent school fee hike. Sadly, however, the College Management has pretended to be in oblivion of their welfare ineptitudes thus rendering them thoughtless, inconsiderate and insensitive to the plight of students"
The Congress noted that the ban placed on cooking in hostels by students as a result of the fire outbreak caused by poor electrical fittings in the Bakassi female hostel by the College Management have put students at the mercy of butteries, food and drink vendors whose means of preparation of the varieties of edibles remains questionable.
“This as a result has exposed the mass of students to health risks which were poorly contained by the College’s health facility. There is no consumers’ protection department in the office of the DSA that would pass a vote of confidence on what students consume in conformity with health regulatory standards. These and many more welfare anomalies have we condoned in the last academic session just gone by.”
On the security situation in the campus, the Congress complained that despite the military nearby, their campus is regularly invaded by elements, according to them, ‘have the support and sympathy of the College Management’ to harass, beat up, threaten and sometimes attempt to murder harmless students.
“We received reports on cases of rape attempts, theft, thuggery and unruly behavior to students and even members of staff. These cases have been left unattended to by the Security Unit who appear to having been compromised by superior orders of the Management. They have also proven to be bereft of ideas when it comes to ensuring that the Yabatech campus is devoid of hoodlums disguising as students of the College.”
The students said rather protect students from such attacks, security men on campus are contended with sticking their noses into matters such as dictating to female students what they should wear and what they should not, seizing caps from male students etc.
The Congress also complained about the continued suspension of the Students’ Union Government of Yabatech under the guise of an inconclusive election held in the 2013/2014 academic session.
The students lamented that the management has so far refused to accede to entreaties from the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) as well as other members of the public to reinstate the Union
In the absence of the Union, they noted that victimization of students by the management have been on the increase.
The Congress therefore demand that the College Management embark on urgent massive repairs and rehabilitation of all subsisting broken down academic infrastructures available on campus, including hostel facilities and road networks to ensure that students are in the right frame of mind to learn.
The Congress also asked the College Management to implement measures to guarantee the safety of lives and properties of staff and students resident in the Yabatech community while the ban on cooking in hostels should be lifted in the best interest of health and mental well being of students.
The Congress also demanded that the filling of vacant leadership positions in the institution should be done in a transparent manner with students given the opportunity of participating in the process.
Also, the students condemned interference by the management of Yabatech in the affairs of academic and non-academic unions.
It reiterated its support to the unions’ demand for good working conditions and immediate payment of all unpaid arrears and other statutory emoluments.
The Congress also demanded unconditional reinstatement of Yabatech Students’ Union Government in line with Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) which guarantees free association.
“We condemn the culture of silence and intimidation which the College authorities are imposing; banning our Students’ Union and victimizing students’ leaders and activists at the slightest attempt at dissent.
We condemn this anti-intellectual descent of Yaba College of Technology, reminiscent of the dark, old era of military dictatorship. We call on students and workers in the education sector to rise in defense of freedom, dissents, debates and other cultures for which ivory towers are known the world over,” the students said while also demanding an end to all forms of increment in fees and charges in the institution.
The Congress asked the management of the institution to demand for an upward funding of the institution from the government while arguing that the Nigerian State is rich enough to fund free, good-quality education from primary to tertiary levels.
The Congress also solicited for support of ANSA, ERC, DSM, CWA and other pro student-workers organizations if it becomes necessary to back up their demands with mass actions and all other forms of civil disobedience.
“We implore every Yabatech student to brace up for future challenges that might rear its ugly head and be prepared to stand firmly against all forms of oppressive policies from the pit of the College Management. All hands must be on deck to constantly agitate and demand for a conducive academic environment,” the Congress concluded.