Students of the faculty of Pharmaceutical Science, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), on Friday held a protest at the Nsukka campus of the institution over 50 percent increment of their school fees, unutilized N20,000 developmental fee and other outrageous charges by the faculty and school managements.
The protesters carried placards with various inscriptions including “Our parents now see us as liars. Reduce the prices of please,” “Too much billing. Are we sugar daddies?” “How can one manual be costlier than one Indomie carton?” “I dey see same thing for MCB Microscope with or without slide. Wetin una dey develop? #Scrap development fee,” amongst others.
Speaking with SaharaReporters, one of the protesters who preferred anonymity for fear of victimisation said that the problem was that the school management increased school fees because the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) said the Nigerian government was not sponsoring them and therefore the university needed to increase school fees.
According to him, the school earlier increased the school fees by 100% but after the students refused to pay, it was reduced to 50% and those who were supposed to pay N80,000 started paying N120,000 while students who were supposed to pay N56,000 now pay N86,000.
He further explained that “Before the school fees increment, the management of Pharmacy faculty said that they needed a developmental fee and they negotiated with the former Vice Chancellor and we agreed to pay N20,000 for the developmental fee apart from the increased school fees.
“They said the developmental fee was to buy laboratory equipment and other things and that they needed to develop a lot of things. But the problem is that we have not been seeing what the N20,000 developmental fee we are paying is being used for or where it is being spent on. We are just paying money.
“We went to the House of Reps meeting (for Students Union) and asked them about the N20,000 developmental fee we are paying and how they are spending it because we are not seeing it either in our laboratory or classrooms but they kept silent, yet, we have been paying the money every year.
“This year, everything became worse. We no longer have water and light to do practicals in the laboratory. We now buy fuel every time to power our electric generating set to do our practicals. There is no light in our classrooms. A classroom that is supposed to contain about 200 students, we will have more than 500 students in one classroom and everybody will be sweating because there is no fan. In the hostel, there is no light. If we are pressed and need to use the toilets, there will be no water to flush the toilets.”
He said that they complained to the school and faculty managements but they said or did nothing, rather, “they brought manuals for our practicals, and for instance, I am doing seven practicals, and combined the manual with the report book as against how it was when they used to produce manual and report book separately, and when they were separate, the total price was lower than the current price, yet, it is so small that it is not enough for our work.
“When we complained, they warned us to be careful how we use the manual because if the spaces where we are supposed to write our reports finish, we will buy a new one, meanwhile, one manual is between N6,500 and N7,000, and that is the amount we must pay for seven manuals for our practicals.
“We pleaded with them, held meetings with them about it but they refused to do anything about it, rather, they were only forcing us to yield to their commands. After our meeting with them on Thursday and there was no positive agreement, we decided to protest and they warned us not to protest. We went to the Vice Chancellor’s office but he ignored us and even refused to enter his office.
“Works Department that is supposed to give us water and light said that the fault is from the bursar because bursar refused to give them money and when we went to bursar’s office, we did not see him and Dean of Student Affair came out and asked us to stop the protest without attending to our demands.”