From James Ogunnaike, Abeokuta
Barely 48 hours after the announcement of about 61% reduction of school fees in all the Ogun state-owned tertiary institutions with effect from 2014/2015 academic session, there were protest and counter-protest in support and against the Governor Ibikunle Amosun’s led government gesture.
The two protests, which took off from Kuto Roundabout, terminated at the Oke Mosan governor’s office Secretariat Complex and paralyzed vehicular movement along the Oke Mosan area, later resulted into clashes between the two groups which led to some of them critically injured.
The first group, which was pro-government was armed with placards with various inscriptions such as “Amosun go on with your Rebuilding Mission”, “We have a listening father”, “Thank you Sir”; all in appreciation of the government’s gesture in reducing the school fees.
Addressing the Ogun state government officials, led by the Chief of Staff, Professor Ganiyu Olatunde, the Chairman of National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, Okikiola Ogunsola expressed appreciation to the state governor for what he referred to as drastic reduction in the school fees.
The NANS chairman said reduction of school fees in Ogun state was unprecedented, adding that the present administration was magnanimous enough to have yield to the yearnings of the students’ populace despite the dwindling allocation from the federation account.
On the other hand, the second group, which was anti-government was led by the President, Students’ Union Government, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Olusegun Ifade was armed with placards with inscriptions and leaves, saying that, the fees reduction by the government was a ‘political reduction’ which is not in favour of majority of the students and parents.
Some of the inscription on the placards read, ‘No reduction in 2013/2014 No Vote’, ‘Amosun reduce our School Fees’, ‘SIA must obey now’,’ Bring down our fees’.
The protesters said the said reduction approved by Amosun should have been approved to take effect from 2013/2014 session, rather than the effective commencement session 2014/2015 announced by the state government.
The students’ leader vehemently opposed the gestures, saying that it was greek gift coming at a wrong time, because election is fast approaching. In the same manner, the approval should have been reversed to take effect from 2013/2014 session. The protesters declared that, they would stay put to governor’s office premises until the governor attend to them.
The protest, however, turned violent as a bus conveying the students of Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, MAPOLY, was attacked around Kuto roundabout, on their way back to the campus after the solidarity rally.
In what looked like a reprisal attack, the MAPOLY students reinforced and attacked the students of Olabisi Onabanjo University leaving four seriously injured.
Phones and other properties were forcefully taken from the students as the entrance of the Federal Secretariat in Oke-Mosan was turned to a battle field.
Many people, including men of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps were seen running for their lives while shops and other offices close by were hurriedly shut.
Attempt by the rampaging students to access the Federal Secretariat was repealed, as the gate was quickly shut by the security operatives manning the gate.
Police operatives, led by the State Commissioner, Ikemefuna Okoye were also caught in the web of the rampaging students as his convoy was stopped from entering the governor’s office while he was forced to alight from his car and trekked in to address the students.