UNILAG students reveal why they protested last week



Students protesting

Students protesting

UNILAG students roundly condemn in the harshest terms, the management of the University of Lagos right from the Vice Chancellor- Professor Rahamon Bello to the extremely aloof Dean of Students Affairs, Professor Olukayode Amund. This is because not only were they in a position to prevent the Friday, June 6, 2014, protest, they failed to learn from a similar scenario that played out at the Lagos State University which almost led to the death of the vice chancellor.
For clarity, it is imperative to point out what led to the protest. Last session, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Bello said at an interactive session with faculty presidents and class representatives that a penalty would be placed on late registration of courses. Making real his threat, a penalty of N10,000 was imposed with a weekly increase of N5,000 which culminated to N25,000 (almost 300 percent of the school fee) as at the time of the protest. These points out that the protest was not staged as a result of increment in school fees as reported by several news media.
This decision by the Unilag managers reflects how far they are from the students. Were they aware of the situation of things that made many students to register late, they would have been the ones apologizing to them instead of the other way round. A good example was in the Department of Marine Sciences which had some of its courses missing from the registration portal. The students complained for several weeks without yielding any fruit until they threatened to protest if they were not exempted from the penalty.
A student who spoke with our reporter explained how the bank delayed payment due to network issues which made her pay an extra N5,000 the following week. The question is: Will the vice chancellor of the University of Lagos claim not to be aware of these? Is he so detached from his students not to have realized that the website of the University of Lagos is nothing to write home about?

One of the students protesting

One of the students protesting

Is Professor Bello so scared to muster the courage of stopping the forced selling of textbooks by lecturers, especially the Department of General Studies? The situation is so bad that a lecturer in the Department of Educational Administration, Dr. Martha Amadi refused to conduct a test for an EDA401 course until all the students bought her textbook of N1,500 which was made available a day to the supposed day the test was meant to hold.
It’s the same across the school, especially in the faculty of Law. Even as we pen this, students are still made to pay several amounts as faculty dues which their impacts are not felt by anyone.
Just within two years of Professor Bello’s administration, there had been food protests, power protest, protest against sexual harassment by the creative arts students, protests against poor facilities in the hostels and now, this one which was instigated due to a wicked and callous astronomic increase in penalties on late registration.
A sad reality is that of all these protests, only the one on food and prices of items had someone who led it- Seun Lari-Williams. All the others were staged by angry and frustrated students under no leadership which made not only a mockery of Unilag, but stumbling around finding who among the students they could talk to in order to calm the situation. The reason is not far-fetched as the University of Lagos does not have a student union government. Even the faculty presidents have been callously bought over by Whispering Palms Retreats and trips to Russia, UK and Ghana. Just last week, The Nation newspaper quoted one of them to have said that, “As a student leader, he could not lead a protest against the school authorities.”

One of the students protesting

One of the students protesting

We maintain that major stakeholders and the alumni community had removed themselves from the day to day running of the school or how can we comprehend the fact that almost all the principal officers in the university are not in the social sciences and humanities where human relations and interpersonal management is taught. The vice chancellor is a chemical engineer, his deputies are professors from Creative Arts and Sciences. The dean of student’s affairs is a lecturer in the Department of Micro biology, while the head of CITS is headed by a Professor of electrical engineering. Where are the psychologists, the educators, the counselors, the lawyers and the human relation experts? Do we need to search any further why UNILAG is run like a jungle, with little or no regard for students’ rights?
UNILAG maintain that with the way and manner the Friday protest went, the next protest would degenerate into chaos and life threatening because both in the chants and manner by which the protest was staged, one would see in clear terms the pains the students have been made to endure. Little wonder, they threatened to burn the Vice Chancellor’s Lodge.
“We encourage the great students of UNILAG never to allow emotions to cloud their civility as was witnessed in the Friday protest where some lecturers and students were harassed. That was unlike us because all over the nation, UNILAG students set a pace for others to follow in the area of peaceful demonstrations,” a source said.
They hereby advise the managers of UNILAG to begin to see students as stakeholders and human beings. They stated that, the good way to start would be the immediate removal of the Dean of Students Affairs, Professor Amund who lacks everything in both human relations and respect for students. Neither his phone number nor email address is made public for students to relate with him. The vice chancellor would also do well by vacating that seat if the task is too big for him to handle. Other urgent steps should include the immediate reinstatement of the student union government so as to have the students under a unified body. We fear that without this, there would be without doubt, more of this public disturbance and disruptions of academic activities.

AKINPELU LANRE SHERIF (300 Level Mass Communication)
“This is one of the reasons they scrapped unionism in Unilag, so that they can do whatever they like. Do they want to milk us dry? Where is the money that was allocated to the university by the Federal Government? Does it mean the six month strike was a waste? The protest continues until our voice is heard”.

FAREEDAH ABASS (300 Level Industrial Relation and personnel management)
“This is a federal university and not private. Imagine what Governor Fashola is trying to do in LASU, Professor Rahman Bello should not try that here at UNILAG.”

BALOGUN ABAJE ABIODUN (200 Level Creative Arts)
“The protest continues! Where do they want us to get the money? Do they want us to steal? We are not from rich homes”.



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