Protesting students of the University of Benin (UNIBEN) brought the Edo State capital to its knee as they blocked the ever-busy Benin-Lagos Expressway and the Ekheuan Road over a N20,000 late registration fee imposed by the school authority.
At the Ekheuan campus of the school, the student who took over the road said they blocked the road to protest the institution’s ‘indiscriminate increment in their school fees.’
The Benin-Lagos Expressway was also blocked for hours by the protesting students of the Ugbowo campus of the university.
The protesting students who carried placards bearing inscriptions as: ‘Federal Uni don turn BOWEN’; ‘UNIBEN no be BOWEN, urgent 20k no be our budget’; ‘Oppression comes in different forms’; ‘We didn’t sign for this injustice’, played solidarity songs with public address sound system.
A student said they were protesting an additional N20,000 to their school fees within two weeks when the portal was opened, adding that the same portal has been frequently down thereby denying access to those who want to pay.
According to the student, when the portal was opened, they were given till September 3 to pay their fees with the warning that any payment after the date attracts an additional N10,000.
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The student added that immediately after the date, the additional N10,000 was added without any prior information to that effect, bringing the increment to N20,000.
“They added N20,000 to our fees within two weeks. And now the PRO is saying anyone that fails to pay before next Saturday would be denied admission, that is, the admission of such students would be withdrawn,” she said.
Berating the PRO for her comments on payment of school fees, another student stated: “The PRO saying it is a privilege for us to be given admission to study at UNIBEN is wrong! It is not a privilege, it is our right to study at any school in Nigeria as Nigerians.”
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Another student said the University has been turned into a personal business since the present Vice-Chancellor assumed office.
“UNIBEN is no more the University of Benin, it is now the University of Salami. Lilian Salami is our VC. She runs the school like her personal business,” the student claimed.
A second-year student, who expressed shock over the payment said the school should have considered the harsh economic situation before charging students for late payment.
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He said, “Is it possible for a student who could not pay on time due to paucity of funds to pay the fine in addition to the school fee? I will urge the management to have a rethink and rescind this unpopular decision. We have resolved to continue the protest until our demand is met.”
The President of the Student Union Government (SUG), Comrade Benjamin Lotana opined that the students and the school management should embrace dialogue.
He said, “The management should call the students Union Executive Council for a round table meeting. I believe so much in diplomacy and the student body also believes in dialogue.
“We love our Vice-Chancellor very much and we believe she will hear our cry as well as reverse the extra charges.”
Some commuters said they had to disembark from their vehicle and trek to their destinations.