Posted By: Odunayo Ogunmola, Ado-Ekiti
Ekiti State students are angry with Governor Ayo Fayose over what they call his “anti-education policies” and attempts to take education out of the reach of the poor.
Acting under the aegis of the Federation of Ekiti State Students Union (FESSU) and the National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS), they condemned the scrapping of free education by the Fayose administration.
The placard-carrying students, who came from the state-owned tertiary institutions, poured into the streets of Ado Ekiti at 8. 30 am yesterday, singing anti-government songs.
Some of their placards read: “Ekiti students pass vote of no confidence in Fayose”; “Primary/secondary education must be free in Ekiti”; “Ekiti bursary, nothing but a scam”; “Blackout in Ekiti State University”; “College of Education, Ikere-Ekiti fees must be reduced”; “No to N50,000 acceptance fee at College of Health Technology, Ijero”; “Don’t stop payment of WASSCE fees for poor students” and “we reject exclusion from education summit”, among others.
They said they chose to protest on the state’s 19th anniversary to send a message that all is not well in the state and to kick against “bad government policies” in education.
The students marched from Ajilosun, stopping at various junctions to address the public.
They added that they would be forced to continue the protest, until Fayose acceded to their demands.
The march caused a huge traffic snarl at Ijigbo Roundabout. Some officers of the Department of State Services (DSS) were there to prevent hoodlums from hijacking the protest.
Addressing reporters, FESSU’s National President Peter Obayemi lamented that students no longer had access to bursary from the government.
He accused officials of the scholarship board of underhand dealings.
Obayemi said he was detained for agitating the payment of bursary.
He said the student bodies would no longer tolerate intimidation by any government official.
The student leader said the Fayose administration had declared a war on students by its actions.
Obayemi said: “We should let the world know that the government has neglected students. It organised an Education Summit and refused to invite students and instead invited artisans, motorcyclists and traders.
“We are saying no to privatisation of public schools in Ekiti. We reject all sorts of fees that have been reintroduced in public schools.
“Government used to pay WASSCE fees for pupils before; this government says it will no longer pay. We reject all these anti-education policies.
“Many students have lost the joy of being admitted to the College of Science and Health Technology, Ijero- Ekiti as they were unable to pay the N50,000 acceptance fee before the deadline.
“The Ijero College of Health Science and Technology is the only school in Nigeria paying such an outrageous acceptance fee, which does not guarantee their admission.”
A NANS executive member, Oluwabunmi Aduloju, condemned the detention of the FESSU boss.
He also criticised a policy introduced by the scholarship board that all students of Ekiti origin must travel to Ado-Ekiti to collect their bursaries.
The Vice-President of Ekiti State University (EKSU) Student Union Government, Sunmisola Ogunleye, said the campus had been in darkness for 11 months without any action by the governor, who is the university’s Visitor.
She said: “In the last one year, EKSU students have been in darkness and all attempts to address the issue have proved abortive.
“The community has even used the privilege to extort money from the students who donated N1,000 per head for the restoration of electricity, yet nothing was done by either the government or the management of the institution.
“Unfortunately, the student area affected by the blackout is the constituency of governor, his chief of staff, commissioner for Budget and Planning.”
Commissioner for Information Lanre Ogunsuyi described the protest as “unnecessary”.
He alleged that the students were sponsored by the opposition.
The commissioner said the Fayose administration wanted to make the bursary scheme more transparent.
He said the government would not be distracted.