About 48 hours after some security operatives shot teargas at protesting students in Alausa, the Lagos State Government yesterday reduced tuition fees of the Lagos State University (LASU) by 60 per cent.
However, the state government warned the students of the institution against violating law and order in the state, noting that their rights to protest “does not suspend the operation of criminal laws.”
Special Adviser to the state governor, Mr. Fatai Olukoga, disclosed this at a press conference he addressed at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre, Alausa, noting that the state government would remain committed to the institution.
The special adviser said the state government had agreed to reduce the tuition fees from 34 per cent to 60 per cent across the different faculties and courses, saying the Governing Council of the school would now decide what percentage reduction of the fee should be paid by different faculties and courses.
Olukoga, who read a 17-point resolution of the ad-hoc committee approved by the State Executive Council (SEC), said after an extensive deliberation on the report of the ad-hoc committee, the council made observation and resolution “regarding the fees and recent actions embarked upon by staff and students of the university.
He said deriving from the foregoing, damage to property, blockage of highways or other acts of public nuisance were punishable offences under the criminal law of the state and could not be justified or excused under the guise of public protests as society itself would be at risk of perpetual disturbance by sundry interest groups.
However, Olukoga said the state government commended the students for taking up the invitation to participate in the resolution of matters affecting their lives when they met with the governor, saying their response by way of detailed observations and suggestions had assisted the government in taking a second look at the issues in contention.
According to him, “in welcoming the submission of the students, the state government reiterated the fact that it was not inflexible or resistant to change where such is justifiable. It’s commitment to continually subsidise university education is a deeply-ingrained policy adopted to ensure that no willing and able student is left behind.
“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 amendable to a downward review.
“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, while some of the charges included can still be reduced on compassionate grounds.
“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 percent to 60 percent is possible across the different faculties and courses.
“The state government has therefore approved the reduction and, in accordance with the law setting up the university, forwarded its approval to the institution governing council for consideration and implementation.
“Pursuant to its mandate, the governing council will issue details of what is now payable by students in each department, and also, 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.”
Olukoga said notwithstanding the approval of reduced fees for students in the institution, the state government would retain and continue with its enhanced scholarship and bursary provisions while the research fund sponsored by the government would also be maintained to foster a culture of research and innovation in the university.
The special adviser assured the students that government would continue its increased spending on infrastructure and physical development of the campus, which had already begun to enhance the stature of the school as a leading institution of higher learning in Nigeria.
He hoped that with the resolution of the fees issue, staff unions at the university would immediately call off their strike and ensure the resumption of normal academic activities.