* Faculty of Arts likely to benefit 60%, Science 34% reductions

Bankole Adeshina

Finally, the Lagos State Government Wednesday succumbed to the agitations and pressures of the students and lecturers of the Lagos State University (LASU) over the demands for reduction in the school fees.

Officially, the government announced that after high-powered deliberations and consultations, which involved all stakeholders to the dispute, it has deemed it fit to review the fees downwardly by 34-60%.

These disclosures were made yesterday at a press briefing held at the government secretariat in Alausa.

The newsmen were addressed by the information management crew of the state government, led by the Commissioner for Information, Lateef Ibirogba and Special Adviser to the Governor on education (Tartiary), Otunba Fatai Olukoga. Other members of the team were Special Adviser to the Governor on Media, Hakeem Bello and his counterpart in Ministry of Information, Abdulateef Raji.

At the briefing, Olukoga read the approved 17-point recommendations of the State Executive Council, the outcome of extensive deliberations and consultations on the report of a Ad Hoc Committe set up by the Governor to look into the suggestions of fees payable by the students of LASU by its union.

Although the government was not specific as to the exact amount to be paid by each student, but there was a pointer to the fact that students of the Faculty of Arts and Social Science are likely to benefit the highest reduction.

“We’ve seen from the reports available the need for possible reduction in the school fees; and we have done that. For instance, it’s clear that it’s not possible for somebody in the Faculty of Arts to be paying for Laboratory Services. He doesn’t use the lab. So, it’s clear that the students in faculty of arts are not going to pay the same fees as those in medicine,” ibirogba explained.

The government also said it was not it duty to allocate to students the exact naira and kobo to be paid, saying the power to do is exclusively held by the school’s Governing Council.

The government also said by the virtue of the new fees, it expected the ASUU, SSANU and the Student Union government of LASU to call off the strike and resume academic activities.

“I don’t want to agree that the demands of the lecturers are not met in the resolutions. The point is the fundamental agitation of the lecturers was on reduction of school fees. And that has been done now. We expected the lecturers to be reasonable people, call of the strike and join the government in its effort to bequeath competitive education to the people of the state,” commissioner for information, Ibirogba said.

Find some of the recommendations, as read at the briefing by Olukoga, below:

1. Government remains fully committed to the development of the state University as a centre of academic excellence and will continue to deploy resources at its disposal towards the provision of a conducive learning environment with up-to-date facilities.

2. By virtue of the Lagos State University Law, the state Government is the promoter and owner of the institution, whilst the organs created by the Law are self-accounting and independent as far as the day to day management of the institution is concerned. Those internal structures must therefore be allowed and supported to play their statutory roles. Subject only to interventionist or mediatory role of the State Governor in his capacity as Visitor of the University.

3. While government recognises the right of individuals and groups to associate freely and protest, it notes with emphasis that these rights do not suspend the criminal laws. Neither can they justify actions that show. Disrespect for or trample upon the freedom and rights of other members of the society.

4. Deriving from the foregoing, damage to property, blockage of highways or other acts of public nuisance are punishable. Offences under the Criminal Law of Lagos State Government and cannot be justified or excused under the guise of public protests, otherwise society itself will be at risk of perpetual disturbance by sundry interest groups. Indeed, one of the primary responsibilities of Government is the maintenance of law and order and, in the public interest, Lagos State Government remains fully committed to this objective.

5 Government however commends the students for taking up the invitation to participate in the resolution of the matters affecting their lives when they met with the governor. Their response by way of detailed observations and suggestions have assisted government in taking a second look at the issues in contention. This so a commendable approach that must be encouraged in resolving disputes within the university community.

6. In welcoming students’ submissions, government reiterates the fact that it is not inflexible or resistant to change where such is justifiable. Also, government’s commitment to continued subsidy of university. Education is a deeply-ingrained policy adopted to ensure that no willing and able student is left out.

7. In this regard, Government wishes to reiterate its commitment to free education up to secondary school level (including payment of WAEC fees) and a generous. Subsidy of Tertiary Education in the state). In LASU, the budget for recurrent and capital expenditure of about N10billion for 2014 is partially funded from fees amounting only to about 10%, while Government provides the remaining 90% in addition to further subsidisation of fees by the. Provision of scholarships, bursaries and research grants.

8. Despite the foregoing, the ad Hoc Committee has recommended and Government has accepted that the fees and charges payable by students for incidental services and materials are amenable to a downward review for two main reasons:

(I) some of the fee components have been applied to students across all levels when in fact they can be justifiably limited to students at a particular level only;

(II) Some of the charges included can still be reduced on compassionate ground.

9. On the basis of these principles, Government agrees that with the subsidised tuition fees and appropriate moderation of the incidental fees, a reduction ranging from 34% to 60% is possible across the different faculties and courses.

10. Government has therefore approved the reduction and, forwarded its approval to the University Governing Council for consideration and implementation. Pursuant to its statutory mandate, the University governing Council will issue details of what is now payable by students in each Department and deal with all other management matters of the University. All individuals and groups within the community are advised to relate to the University Council accordingly.

11. Notwithstanding the approval of reduced fees for students in the State University, Government will retain. And continue with its enhanced scholarship and bursary provisions. The Research Fund sponsored by government will also be maintained to foster a culture of research and innovation.

12. Moreover, government will continue its increased spending on infrastructure and physical development of the campus, which has already begun to enhance the stature of the state university as a leading institution on higher learning in Nigeria.

13 Government hopes that with the resolution of the fees’ issue, Staff unions at the Lagos State University will immediately call off their strike and ensure the resumption of normal academic activities.

14. As earlier clarified by government officials. The retirement age of employees, including Professors in the University, cannot be unilaterally extended by the employees themselves, unless the employer were to cede total control of the institution of employees, which is an impossible situation.

15. Regarding the Vice Chancellor’s tenure of office, Government also considers it a State prerogative exercisable by Law pursuant to the concurrent legislative power of the state to establish universities and make statutory provisions for their management, and not that of its employees or proprietors of other universities. Government will retain the option of a second term for Vice Chancellors in order to benefit from good leadership whenever the occasion arises


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