The Students Solidarity Group has tackled the President Bola Tinubu-led Nigerian government for failing to prioritise and fund education for the citizens and rather pushing them into unnecessary hardship.
The solidarity group in a statement lambasted presidency’s spokesman, Dele Alake, over his recent comments, saying he and others who speak for the government only thrive on misinformation and disinformation.
The Students Solidarity Group in the release signed by Adetola Oluwatosin and Oyelumade Oluwakemi declared that providing affordable education is a better investment than buying Super Tucano Jets or earmarking over N70 billion to buy Sport Utility Vehicles for lawmakers.
The group said, “Our attention at the STUDENTS’ SOLIDARITY GROUP AGAINST FEE HIKE has been drawn to a Press Release credited to one Mr Dele Alake whom, but for our knowledge of current affairs, we wouldn’t have known was a Media Assistant to the President.
“Students at Federal Universities and recent of all, the University of Lagos, are currently dealing with the oppressive burden of an exorbitant, unconscionable, undemocratic hike in fees, contrary to the deceptive claims made in the press release that “tuition” has not been introduced.
“Under the guise of "discretionary charges," University officials have arbitrarily imposed astronomical fees for utility bills, hostel accommodation, ID cards, drug tests, course registration, examination, laboratory use, and other inanities they can’t explain. If it were not for the embarrassment it would have caused, these University officials would have added “Fees for Night guards”.
“These charges are nothing but a ploy to conceal their true intentions. The true intention of the government is to hand off public education, commercialize it and introduce full-blown tuition which would only be fulfilling the recommendations of the Stephen Oronsaye’s report of 2012 that advised the government to force poor parents and students to cough out nothing less than 600,000 Naira as University fees.
“The promise of high-quality tertiary education for all Nigerians, regardless of economic status, has been broken by the government. Countless students from low-income families who once aspired to pursue their dreams are now being denied the right to an education due to exorbitant fees. The dreams of our country's future leaders are being crushed by greed and indifference.
“The government's so-called Students' Loans Scheme may appear to be a lifeline, but it is nothing more than a hollow promise. Burdening students with debt is not a solution. It is a calculated move to plunge them into financial ruin and extended servitude. Education should be regarded as a right, as a social investment, and not a business. Education is not a privilege to be obtained through loans and debt bondage.
“We as students at the University of Lagos and in other schools are united in this common cause, and we refuse to fall victim to this well-planned deception. We want to state unequivocally that we will not accept these hikes. They are not justifiable at all. If the “economic realities” are not favourable as stated by the UNILAG Management, it is the duty of the government to fix the “economic realities” not the poor. Our task is to fight for accessible and affordable education, and we will not back down until our demands are met.
“We demand that the unjust fee hike in all Federal Universities be reversed immediately to ensure that education remains accessible to all Nigerians. 2. Proper Funding by the Federal Government: We demand that the Federal Government assume full responsibility for funding our Universities. It is the government's responsibility to ensure that higher education remains accessible and affordable to all students, regardless of their financial situation. We believe that funding education is a better investment than buying Tucano jets later to fight insecurity and build prisons. It is way better than earmarking over 70 billion to buy SUVs for lawmakers.
“3. Immediate Reinstatement of the democratic and vibrant Students Union: We demand that the Students Union at the University of Lagos and elsewhere be reinstated immediately and unconditionally. The Students Union is the students' voice, and its absence violates our fundamental right to representation and collective action.
“Our struggle is for the future of our beloved country, not just for ourselves. We encourage all students, parents, and concerned citizens to join us in our fight against this calculated assault on education. We call on government to revert fees immediately and fund education properly.”