THE PRESS CLUB,
University of Lagos
UNIVERSITY OF LAGOS STUDENTS PROTEST; THE TRUE STORY
Sequel to several news and propaganda that have infiltrated the media for the past few days regarding the peaceful protest embarked upon by the students of the University Of Lagos and the action of the management, shutting down the school, The Press Club, University Of Lagos has deemed it fit to clarify and present the issues behind the student protest.
It should be noted that the peaceful protest which began on Wednesday was a consensus reached by the various students leaders of the University Of Lagos at a meeting held on Tuesday where issues bothering on student welfare was discussed and it was agreed that there should be a peaceful march to the office of the Dean of Students Affairs to ask questions bothering the generality of students, which could not be answered by the Student Leaders.
While the media and the school management has painted water and light as the reasons for the protest by the students, it is imperative that this is cleared and on this note we present the various issues:
- Scarcity Of Sachet Water: Over the past two months the students of the University Of Lagos has not only witness hike in the price of sachet water but also scarcity of the product, this is due to the monopoly of UNILAG Ventures, the producer of UNILAG Water who have not been able to satisfy the student populace since last year and the situation only gets worse as the day goes by, most especially in the last two months. Students have been grumbling as they have been forced to buy table water which is more expensive, while some who cannot afford it stays thirsty. As a proactive measure, The Press Club, UNILAG released an editorial titled “The Monopoly of UNILAG Waters and the Scarcity Thereof”, which was sent to the Vice Chancellor and the Dean of Students Affairs on the 22nd of March, 2016 via email, but the management is yet to address the issue or proffer solution.
- Non Availability of Domestic Water: Another major issue that bothers on the welfare of students is the issue of domestic water which has become a night mare for students, due to this issue, students stay on queue for hours before they’re able to get water and most time, majority of the student go to class without taking their bath, or sometimes you see student going out of their hostels with bucket looking for where to fetch water.
- Hike in Price/Price List: Since the inception of this semester, the students of the University of Lagos have experienced hike in the price of commodities on campus. Though the vendors have most times attributed this to the increase in dollar but we can state that at the time of dollar increase, goods were much cheaper outside the university than within the university. An example of this is Lucozade Boost which is sold outside the school for N200 while it is sold in school for N250. In addition, a bag of sachet water is sold for as much as N200 within the university as against N130 that it’s sold outside the university campus. It is noteworthy that the management has directed that a bag of sachet water should be sold at N120 each but the vendors have refused to comply with this directive giving the excuse that they pay so much royalty for their shops. It is on this blueprint that the union, in order to avoid faceoff between angry students and the vendors who may see this as exploitation and want to take laws into their hands, demanded for a price list that will be pasted round the campus as it has been the norm and which has proven to be the solution to exploitation on campus. The Student Affairs Department is yet to approve the price list.
- Delay in the Renovation of Shodeinde Hall: The school embarking on the renovation of Shodeinde Hall is laudable and the students have praised the management for embarking on this project. However, the delay in completion of this renovation have given space for questions, rumors and different issues that can be clarified by only the management. Shodeinde Hall was supposed to have been completed by February and the reason for the delay is not known to the students who suffer its close down.
- Power Supply: While the issue of power has been painted as a national one and have attracted mixed feelings from all and sundry, the implications of the issue of power is enormous than that which will be experienced outside the University of Lagos. The following are the reasons for the above claim:
- The only accepted means of cooking at the University of Lagos is through electric cooker thus the Students of the University of Lagos depends solely on power to cook. Majority of the students prefers to cook themselves because they don’t buy food from restaurants for many reasons, some of which includes Health, quality and quantity of food at restaurants, while many depend on foodstuff because it reduces the cost of feeding.
- Water is a basic amenity which its importance cannot be overemphasized. Without power, water cannot be pumped to various hostel and faculties. As such, this has given rise to long queue of students trying to fetch water and many going to classes without taking their bathe. Furthermore, without water the toilets will be in a mess and this can in turn posed different health challenges.
In view of the above, it should be noted that neither the students nor union have demanded for 24 hours power supply, what the students leaders clamored for is that the management should give explanations on why the university still run on two generators which can only supply 30% of the electricity needs of the university community while provision has been made for four. Where are the remaining two that was bought? Are they on the sea: or at the port?, have they been returned? These and many more are the questions that are been asked
- Medical Facility: The issue of medical facilities are being raised by student as a proactive measure in order to avert negative occurrences in the future. In a community that has more than 35, 000 students excluding staff and other who either transact business, or visitors who troop in on a daily basis, having only one ambulance for medical and emergency reasons is not good enough. Many times, the ULSU Bus is used to convey students in emergency cases which is inappropriate. On this issue of ambulance, what the students have clamored for is that an additional ambulance should be purchased and if it is purchased, why is it not available and when will it be on ground?
The aforementioned issues and many more that are not mentioned in this release are the reasons why the University of Lagos Students’ Union Leaders and the student populace embarked on the peaceful protest. The rationale behind the students demanding the Vice Chancellor to address them is because they felt that he is the only one that can be trusted as the Students Affairs Division, especially the Acting Dean of Students Affairs, in person of Dr. Karo Ogbinaka, has not conveyed their messages rightly and the students have lost their trust in him. We would like to state clearly that according to the Constitution of the University of Lagos Student Union, every student has the right to demonstration. On a final note, The Press Club, UNILAG hereby state that the protest was largely peaceful.