Students of the University of Benin (UNIBEN), yesterday blocked the ever busy Benin- Lagos Expressway by Ugbowo, in protest against hike in their school fees by the university management. For hours, vehicular and human movements at Ugbowo and Ekenwan Road campuses were paralysed such that commuters had to look for other routes to navigate their ways to their desired destinations. The protesting students who carried placards bearing inscriptions as: ‘Federal Uni don turn BOWEN’; ‘UNIBEN no be BOWEN”, “Urgent 20k no be our budget”; “Oppression comes in different forms”; “We didn’t sign for this injustice”, played solidarity songs with public address sound system.
One of the students said they were protesting an additional N20,000 to their school fee within two weeks, when the portal was opened, adding that same portal had been frequently down thereby denying those who wanted to pay the access to do so. According to her, when the portal was opened, they were giving till September 3 to pay up their fees with the warning that any payment after the date would attract additional N10,000. She added that immediately after the date, additional N10,000 was added without any prior information to that effect, making the increment N20,000.
“They added N20,000 to our fees within two weeks. And now the PRO is saying any one that fails to pay before next Saturday would be denied admission, that is, the admission of such students would be withdrawn,” she said. Berating the PRO for her comments on payment of school fees, the students remarked: “The PRO saying it is a privilege for us to be given admission to study at UNIBEN is wrong.
It is not a privilege; it is our rights to study at any school in Nigeria as Nigerians.” Another student who did not want his name in print said the University had been turned to a personal business since the present Vice Chancellor assumed office. “UNIBEN is no more University of Benin; it is now University of Salami. Lilian Salami is our VC. She runs the school like her personal business,” the student submitted.
Speaking for the students, the Students Union Government (SUG), President, Egwu Benjamin Lotanna, said the institution’s management should call the students Union Executive Council for a round table meeting, adding that he believes so much in diplomacy and that the students also believe in dialogue.