The Lagos State Government Wednesday again called for restraint on the part of students of the State’s University (LASU), appealing to them, their parents and guardians to allow the Government get to the solution point based on the discussions between it and the student body.
In a joint press conference at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre, Alausa, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Lateef Ibirogba and his Transportation counterpart, Mr. Kayode Opeifa, also appealed to other interest groups not to play politics with either the issue of LASU or the education of the students.
Addressing Government House Correspondents on the genesis of the crisis in the institution, Ibirogba noted that the fee regime issue which has been made the focal point of the present crisis in the institution was actually introduced three years ago to commence with only incoming students while returning students were exempted.
“The truth is that this fee regime was introduced three years ago and students have been paying since. We want also to put on record that government has agreed with the students on a couple of palliatives to make it better and easier for them to pay the fees”, the Commissioner said.
On the palliatives that Government put in place to ameliorate the effect of the increase, the Commissioner said immediately the fees were introduced Government increased the Budget for scholarship from N700 million to N1.8 billion in order to assist indigent students while it also increased bursary awards so that every student would be carried along.
“The Government of Babatunde Fashola has even had to do operation ‘no child should be left behind’ under which he directed that every issue that has to do with indigent students be addressed”, he said adding that by that directive, a student who has the admission and is challenged by lack of fund would not lose the admission on that account.
Ibirogba, who said the arrangement had been sustained since the commencement of the new fee regime in the last three years, described as unfortunate the fact that some people, who are not even students, have risen to instigate crisis in the school over the fee regime especially when Government was already striving to resolve the issue based on discussions with the students.
“As it is today, the students have met with Government. They have met twice and they were asked to present their position on the way forward which they have done. Based on that, the Government has constituted an Executive Council Committee to look into the paper in order see how to reconcile the two positions for the final resolution of the issue”, the Commissioner said.
Acknowledging, however, that the students have up till now demonstrated that they are good students, Ibirogba again appealed to “those who are escalating this issue beyond the students’ interest to please allow us to get to solution point”, pointing out that it was not in the interest of anyone, least of all the students, that politics be played with the issue.
Throwing more light on the issue, Transportation Commissioner, Mr. Kayode Opeifa, recalled that the new fee regime was one of the many resolutions brought to the Executive Council by a Visitation Panel constituted by the Council in response to the request of the State House of Assembly before whom the students had complained of poor quality Education.
“The State House of Assembly made a representation to the Executive Council to set up a Visitation Panel on the request of the students. The Panel was set up and it made many recommendations to move the university forward. One of such decisions was to change the status of LASU from no tuition-paying to a tuition-paying institution”, Opeifa said.
According him, “Government adopted almost all the recommendations one of which is more funding of the university. Arising from the Government decision on the issue, the University authority was mandated to fix appropriate fee regime for the institution. This was done”.
The Commissioner noted that although there were some agitations initially but after some time the issue subsided and in the last two years there has been no problem as the students have been paying adding that no LASU student participated in the last protest over the fee increase.
The Commissioner, who said the students made about 22 assumptions in their position paper, gave the amount of fees in the new regime to include, Social Sciences N223,750 for fresh students while returning pay N121,750; while fresh Law Students pay N250, 750, returning students payN206,250; while fresh Communication Science and Transport students pay N238,750, returning students pay N198,250 and while fresh Science students pay N258,750 returning students pay N216,250. Fresh Engineering students pay N298,750 “because of the heavy instrumentation involved” while returning students pay N256,000 including accommodation.
Also appealing to the students for restraint, Opeifa said the Executive Council committee of which he is a member was giving serious attention to the issue adding that the government would soon come out with a decision in the interest of the State, the University and more importantly the students and their parents and guardians.
Also present at the briefing were Solicitor-General of the State, Mr. Lawal Pedro (SAN) and the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media, Mr. Hakeem Bello.