Tuition hike: UNIZIK students block Enugu-Onitsha highway in protest

Tuition hike: UNIZIK students block Enugu-Onitsha highway in protest

Disgruntled students of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, on Monday blocked the Enugu-Onitsha expressway demonstrated over the hike in school fees by the school authorities.

The students were said to have marched round the school premises with placards to register their grievances.

They alleged that they were asked to pay about N500,000 as tuition for the session.

But Acting Head, Information and Public Relations of the institution, Chika Ene, denied the alleged increase.

He urged students, staff and the public to dismiss the report as fake, targeted at causing unrest and destabilizing the peace being enjoyed in the University.

The students, however, during the protest, insisted that the increment was true, alleging the university Management connived with the Student Union Government over the purported increment.

One of them, a third-year student who preferred anonymity, said they decided to embark on the protest as they could not bear the increment any longer.

The student said, "When they increased the fees to over N50, 000 last year, we were asked through the SUG executive to bear with the school, promising they will revert to the initial fee of about N26,000.

"But to our greatest surprise, instead of asking us to pay the old fees as promised, we saw a total of N500,000 as what we are going to pay now. This is criminally outrageous in a Federal University.

Addressing the students in front of the administrative block, the Chairman, Anambra State Axis, National Association of Nigerian Students, Peter Onyenweife, assured the students that his executive would never be a party to any form of increment.

He appealed to the students to ensure the protest was peaceful and within the confines of the campus environment.

He said, "Any student protesting outside the gate is on his own. Anybody can release gunshots from anywhere, and once that's done, we're all gone, and the aim of the protests is defeated.

"I'm standing here as your representative. We can never be a party to any form of increment. That's why we're here to plead with you. Our voices must be heard.

"If these same group of students were the same students that gave me support in 2019, I want to assure you that I won't for any reason support anything that will hurt you.

"I want to put my integrity on the line, in all honesty, the VC is currently in Abuja. But the DVC, academics who's the second in command will brief us on his behalf."

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academics, Prof. Fedrick Odibo, who addressed the students on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Charles Esimone, said the institution's fees structure had been pulled down, while discussion with the students union government was ongoing.

He said, "We've heard your agitations, and they're okay. You have freedom of protest and that's why we're handling you as our children.

"The VC is not around, but I'm in touch with him. He suggested he addresses you via zoom, that's the essence of technology.

"We've pulled down the fees structure of the university, and we're discussing with the students union government."

"On his part, the Dean, Students Affairs, Prof. Nonso Achebe called on the students to suspend the protests, assuring them of a town hall meeting with the VC on return.

"You've registered your displeasure, please let's meet at the round table for negotiations. The DVC has addressed you and I'm lending my voice as the number one student.

"Let every fray nerves be calmed so we don't spoil the good work we've started. Let's broker an agreement.

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