Four critically injured as students clash in Abeokuta
Students of Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago – Iwoye, in their thousands seized the entrance to the Oke – Mosan Governor’s Office, demanding 50 percent reduction in their tuition fee.
They said the reduction should take immediate effect – 2013/2014 academic session and not by next session, lamenting that OOU students remain the highest fees paying students in Nigeria.
The students who also blocked the Abeokuta – Kobape – Sagamu expressway for the better part of Thursday, made vehicular movement nightmarish for travellers and motorists going to and fro Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
They dropped a frightening pot of fetish objects – ebo (sacrifice) bearing egg, eko, feather among others at the Governor’s Office gate with all the items smeared with red palm oil.
Over two dozen policemen including the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ikemefuna Okoye, had a hectic time labouring to contain the surging crowd lest they pull down the locked entrance gate in a bid to forcefully enter the government Secretariat.
The protesting OOU students led by their leader, Comrade Ifade Olusegun, rejected the tuition fees reduction earlier announced by the state government and demanded to meet with Governor Ibikunle Amosun who was said to have travelled to Abuja.
Olusegun said: “even if it’s going to take us one month or more than that, we are not going to leave the governor’s office premises until the governor attend to us. Enough of deceit, why the political school fees, when election is forthcoming, no we shall not accept the dubious offer.
“It is a political reduction instead of proper reduction. Our demand is simple, we want breakdown of our tuition fees. Also we want the reduction to be implemented this session, it’s simple as ABC. If the governor realized the need for reduction, why must governor say the implementation must be from next session?”
The students reckoned that any reduction above N50, 000 is unacceptable to them and not in consonance with the present economic reality, adding that the Governor, during the electioneering campaign had promised drastic reduction in the tuition fees.
The Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Mr. Segun Odubela, appealed for calm, until the Governor who travelled to Abuja for a meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan on the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), returns.
Earlier, another group of students including students from Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta FUNNAB, in their thousands converged at the Arcade ground at the Governor’s office for a solidarity rally in support of the reduction.
They lauded Amosun for reducing their school fees to lightening the burden of education on them and expressed support for his second term ambition.
The Chairman of National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, Okikiola Ogunsola, who addressed the Ogun State government officials led by the Chief of Staff, Professor Ganiyu Olatunde, said the reduction was “drastic, unprecedented and commendable.”
According to him, the present administration was magnanimous enough to have yielded to the yearnings of the students’ populace despite the dwindling allocation from the federation account.
Ogunsola said: “We are here to appreciate the Governor because our Governor is a listening Governor, first of it is the reduction in the school fees, composition of governing council in Tai Solarin University of Education, the appointment of SA to the governor on students’ affairs and for the peace we have enjoyed in our schools.”
But by noon, the protest turned violent and bloody, leaving four students critically injured and hospitalised while about a dozen of others received minor injuries as those opposed to reduction and others in support of it clashed.
The clash occurred when a bus conveying the Students of the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta (MAPOLY), who were returning from the Amosun thank you rally for tuition fee reduction, ran into a pack of OOU students resulting in a free for all at the Kuto area of the state capital.
In what appeared like a reprisal attack, the MAPOLY students were said to have reinforced and confronted the OOU students, leaving four seriously injured.
Reacting, the Labour Party in the state described Amosun’s School fees Reduction as a panicky measure and another greek gift to the students.
Speaking through its Publicity Secretary in the state, Deji Kalejaiye, the party said the reduction remains another desperate measure by the government of Ogun State to hoodwink the unsuspecting public, after similar steps taken by the All Progressive Congress (APC) Controlled government of Lagos State reduced school fees of Lagos State owned Institutions to twenty five thousand naira (N25, 000).