The Ogun State Government on Saturday ordered the closure of Olabisi Onabanjo University, OOU, Ago-Iwoye. The announcement came just 24hours after the expiration date given to the students by government to address the tuition fees crisis. The students had embarked on a two-day protest demanding that the school fees be reduced 50 per cent effective from the 2013/2014 academic session and not 2014/2015 session as approved by government. A day after the protests, the state governor, Ibikunle Amosun, met with the students and resolved to address their demands within a week and set up a committee.
However, following the deadline, the state government directed the school’s governing council to close down the university immediately. The government, in a statement by the Secretary to the Government, Adeoluwa Taiwo, advised all parents whose wards are students of the university to immediately call them to order as the government would not tolerate any act that would disturb the peace in the state. Mr. Adeoluwa said the decision to shut the university was taken in the overall interest of peace and order as the students have continued to issue threats while rejecting all entreaties and concessions made by the government with regards to their demands. He explained that the government had, on August 12 after extensive deliberations involving the leadership of the student unions in the 10 state-owned tertiary institutions, heads of the institutions and government representatives, announced reductions in school fees as high as 61 per cent.
According to him, the government also abolished the indigene/non-indigene dichotomy in the school fees regime and announced the 2014/2015 academic session as the start of the policy. Mr. Adeoluwa pointed out that while students in nine of the ten institutions commended the government for its decisions, OOU students insisted that the new school fees regime should take effect from the 2013/2014 academic session and that the fees should be further reduced. “The OOU students premised their position on the fact that they are currently running the 2013-2014 academic session which will end in January. They also rejected the fact presented by students of other institutions that they are also in the same situation as some of them will only be concluding the 2013-2014 session in December,” the statement said. Mr. Adeoluwa said the government had also sought to convince the students that it could not afford to bear the financial implication of commencing the implementation of the new school fees regime as it would cost the government over N2 billion. “OOU students staged a violent demonstration in the state capital, Abeokuta, on August 15 and it took the personal intervention of the governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun to restore normalcy,” the statement said. “The governor thereafter set up an ad-hoc committee to discuss with the students with a view to resolving the situation.
During discussions with the ad-hoc committee, OOU students maintained their stand that the fees must be further reduced and that the implementation must commence immediately. “The explanation that no other state in Nigeria is saddled with the responsibility of funding 10 tertiary institutions and that to accede to their request would mean natural death for the institutions made no sense to them. The student leaders were, within the week, sending text messages round, urging their colleagues “to get ready for action” as they are ready to unleash violence on the state capital. “Security reports have since confirmed that because the students are acting under external influence, no concession made by the government will be satisfactory to them. “Consequently, we have no option than to order the immediate closure of all the campuses of Olabisi Onabanjo University to protect the students and other residents of the state and their property. We urge all parents to impress on their wards the need to maintain peace in the interest of all.”