UNIZIK students block Enugu-Onitsha expressway to protest fee hike

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Charles Esimone, UNIZIK Vice-Chancellor
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Students of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra state on Monday protested alleged increase in tuition by the university authorities.

The students, who marched round the school environment with placards, also blocked a portion of the Enugu-Onitsha expressway.

But Acting Head, Information and Public Relations UNIZIK, Chika Ene, refuted the alleged increase in tuition of returning students of the institution for the 2020/2021 academic session.

She urged students, staff and the public to treat the report, which she said was targeted at causing unrest and destabilising the university as fake.

But the students, during the protest, insisted the increment was true, alleging the university authorities’ connivance with the Student Union Government over the purported increment.

One of them, a third year student who spoke to The Nation on condition of anonymity, said they decided to embark on the protest as they could not bear the increment any longer.

“When they increased the fees to over N50, 000 last year, we were asked through the SUG executive to bear with the school, promising they will revert to the initial fee of about N26, 000.

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“But to our greatest surprise, instead of asking us to pay the old fees as promised, we saw additional amount to what we paid last year.”

One of the students told The Nation newspaper in confidence that student union government in the institution was a rubber stamp and weak.

He questioned why the institution was being addressed as Federal when students pay tuitions higher than obtainable in state-owned universities.

According to the source, first year students would pay as high as N156, 000; second year over N80, 000, third year almost N60,000 and final year up to N70,000.

However, Acting PRO of the institution, Mrs. Chika Ene denied the allegations, stating such things had never happened in UNIZIK to the best of her knowledge and would never happen

She described the Vice Chancellor as a god-fearing gentleman who would never allow such things under his administration, and urged the students to have the fear of God in them

Addressing the students in front of the administrative block, Anambra Chairman, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Peter Onyenweife, assured them his executives would never be party to any form of increment.

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He appealed to the students to ensure the protest was peaceful and within the confines of the campus environment.

He said, “Any student protesting outside the gate is on your own. Anybody can release gunshots from anywhere, and once that’s done, we’re all gone, and the aim of the protests is defeated.

“I’m standing here as your representative. We can never be a party to any form of increment. That’s why we’re here to plead with you…our voices must be heard.

“If the same group of students were the same students that gave me support in 2019, I want to assure you that I won’t for any reason support anything that will hurt you.

“I want to put my integrity on the line, in all honesty, the VC is currently in Abuja. But the DVC, academics who’s the second in command will brief us on his behalf.”

The Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academics, Professor Fedrick Odibo, who addressed the students on behalf of the Vice Chancellor, Professor Charles Esimone, said the institution’s fees structure had been pulled down while discussion with the union was ongoing.

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