Ondo women, artisans join students in protest against tuition increase
The ongoing protest against increase in tuition at the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko (AAUA), has taken a different dimension, as market women, parents and artisans have joined the protest.
They are in solidarity with the Students Union Government (SUG), National Association of Ondo State Students (NAOSS) and the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), who had mobilised their members for the protest.
The crowd, who carried placards, barricaded the Oba Adesida Road, Alagbaka and other major roads, marched to the governor’s office, lamenting the hike from N35, 000 to N200, 000.
They blocked the major roads and obstructed free movement of vehicles, chanting songs and carrying placards with inscriptions: We Are Tired Of Akeredolu, Don’t Send Our Children Out Of School, No To Hike In Our School Fees and We Didn’t Vote For This Kind Of Change, among others.
Members of the public joined the protest by barricading major roads to express their displeasure, saying the increment would affect their livelihoods and economy.
However, the students had started the protest in Akure since Monday, declaring that they would make the state ungovernable for Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu if he failed to reverse the over 500 percent hike.
The Guardian learnt that security officials who were directed to maintain peace and order have arrested no fewer than 46 protesting students and some parents.
It was learnt that the protesters attacked the convoy of the state Chief Judge, Oluwatoyin Akeredolu, on her way from her swearing-in ceremony but was rescued by the police, who dispersed them with tear-gas and several gunshots.
The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Femi Joseph, confirmed the arrests, adding that they would be charged to court.
But the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council of the university, Dr. Tunji Abayomi and Commissioner for Information, Yemi Olowolabi had explained that the cost of running the institution was becoming unbearable to the state government.
They said the state was spending N5.7bn to run the university yearly, while its total revenue stood at N2.7bn.
Abayomi justified the increase, which he said, was meant to save the university from collapse, adding that fresh students would pay between N150, 000 per session or N75, 000 per semester while returning students will pay N120,000 per session or N60, 000 per semester.
Others, he said, would pay between N100, 000 per semester or N200,000 per session.
Meanwhile, the state Coordinator of PDP Grassroots Mobilizers, Kunle Ajibogun, has decried the indiscriminate arrest of the students and other members of the public on the state government’s orders.
He accused Governor Akeredolu of being insensitive to the plight of the masses.