By James Ogunjimi
“Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.” ― Walter Cronkite
The situation of things in OOU at present can best be imagined than felt. While there is no denying the fact that academically and infrastructure-wise, OOU has improved, the reality on ground however is that OOU is sitting on a keg of gunpowder, and the explosion can be very devastating.
First, the contribution of the Ogun State government to the development and maintenance of the university is ZERO. While tuition fee was increased, one would have thought the increment would make the state government pay more attention to the development of the school, but the reverse is the case; not only is the Ogun state government not contributing a dime to the development of the school, it has said it would no longer pay even the salaries of the university staff.
While noticeable changes can be seen in the school since Professor Saburi Adesanya took over the reins of the university (the university now has hostels in mini campus, the hostels in the main campus are nearing completion, a standard university library is under construction, the sports center is fully equipped with standard equipments and standard gym, and various buildings are under construction), the fear is that just like other Vice Chancellors before him failed because their state government left them to face the ‘cold’ alone, the current VC is being set up to fail too. Why?
The salaries of the past three months of the university staff were paid with money from the university account; money meant to develop the school and manage the day to day running of the university. Now, if the money supposed to be used for the daily running of the university is used to pay salaries, what happens to the school. Already,reliable information has it that as a result of using university funds to pay salaries, by August 2014, the university would hit rock bottom financially. The implication is that, the university would be forced to jerk up tuition fees even higher, leading to ‘crisis’ in the university which would stem from the inevitable protest against the hike by students.
Now, on the 31st of May 2014, the State Governor, Sen. Ibikunle Amosun claimed that he had committed N21.6 billion as subvention to its universities in the past three years. Nothing could be further from the truth than that! Despite the fact that Governor Amosun allocated more than 20% of his budget on education, it has just been words on paper; it has failed to translate into reality. The projects being executed so far has been as a result of the magnanimity of the various education bodies and the interventions of TETFund and other bodies, not forgetting the amount raked in from the hike in fees, unrefunded money, etc.
Even the commercial cab drivers pay N100 daily as their contribution to the development of the school. The bottom line is that everyone is toiling and struggling, everyone is paying heavily to ensure that this university regains its status as a leading university in this country and beyond; everybody but the state government charged with the responsibility of developing, maintaining and improving the university.
As things stand in OOU, the least amount being paid by each student is N109,000, while some students pay as high as N250,000 per session. The normal system is that, the higher you go, the lower your tuition fee becomes. But in the OOU of today, the higher you go, if you are lucky, you continue to pay the astronomical fees you paid in your Year 1, or if you are not so lucky (like most students), you pay higher fees.
The views from OOU and the comments of OOU students is that they are tired. When students are pushed to the wall, they would be left with no option but to fight back. OOU students have been gathering and meeting; they do not want a breakdown of law and order, they do not want to be seen as ‘troublemakers’, they do not want people to think they do not want the progress of the university, they do not want to be seen as students who love causing trouble, but then, they would not sit still and watch education taken beyond their grasp, they would not sit still and see their ladies become prostitutes so they can pay their way through school, they would not fold their hands while their guys become internet fraudsters so they can even have a chance of surviving the financial demands of the academic community. No, the state government either starts paying attention to tertiary education or it starts preparing to face the wrath of OOU students.
These are days of enlightenment; to underrate students is to toy with failure. OOU students have moved before, and if the Ogun state government does not begin to take them serious by reducing the tuition fees and implementing the “the higher you go, the lower it becomes” method as far as tuition fee is concerned, OOU students are prepared to move again, and this time, the movement may be one that will consume the government and jettison any plans the governor has for 2015.
Education is germane to Ogun State students and if the current state government is not prepared to pay attention to it, it should be prepared to leave. Already, the OOU Students Union has issued a missive warning both the state government and the university management of the dangers of their actions, and they have expressed their readiness to lead OOU students in their quest to restore sanity to OOU.
The whirlwinds of revolt will begin to rock all the corners of this state until Governor Amosun brings down the hike in tuition fees from the astronomical fees being paid currently, starts funding the school and contributes to the infrastructural development of the university.
James Ogunjimi is Coordinator, Committee for the defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Olabisi Onabanjo University Unit, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State.
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