By Abavo Kingsley, Benin

 

 

Prof Osasere Orumwemse, VC UNIBEN

Prof Osasere Orumwemse, VC UNIBEN

The University of Benin has been shut down indefinitely as Senate on Thursday, 23 November, 2017 ordered students to vacate hostels within hours giving 6 pm as deadline. It cited security threat as reason for the action. A new date for resumption will be announced in due course, Senate said.

Earlier on the day, the Founder’s Day lecture that was to be delivered by an alumnus and former Inspector General of Police Solomon Arase as part of activities to mark the 2015/2016 convocation ceremony billed to begin at 10. 30 am, was delayed  for about an hour and half;  till 12 mid – day due to Students’ protest of what they termed arbitrary fees increase by the school Authority.

The protest led by leadership of the Students Union Government (SUG) demanded a reversal of the fees increase to status quo.

They consequently demanded that management should comply with their demand giving 12 mid – night of that day as deadline.

They rejected the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Osasere Orumwemse plea that they stay action till Saturday, 25 November, 2017, the grand finale of convocation activities for management to look into their demand and possibly shift some ground.

But in what appeared like back pedaling, later on the day, Senate issued a circular ordering that students should immediately vacate their hostels on or before 6 pm as deadline citing security threat as reason for the order.

In a telephone interview with the SUG President, Ogbidi Osemudiamen, he said the students’ leadership was not consulted by management before the decision was arrived at.

He however, promised that students would be non –violent in their protest, remain calm and maintain the peace while in their expectation and hope, the school Authority will do the needful by positively responding to their demand.

According to him, students were shocked that after the Vice Chancellor appealed that they stay action till Saturday; the grand finale of convocation ceremony for management to look into their demand and possibly shift ground, Senate proceeded to shut down the school indefinitely and ordered students to quit their hostels within hours; 6 pm as deadline.

This, students in their own wisdom considered as very dangerous attack on them as they have been exposed to unpredictable circumstances particularly those that will have to travel long distance to their homes.

Therefore, they decided to stay – put in their various hostels while maintaining the peace, and wait for positive response of management as promised by the Vice – Chancellor.

As further measure to frustrate the students, their hostels have been denied light supply. “Now they are in darkness,” Osemudiamen alleged.

The fees hike was given as follows: Halls 1 – 4 (Halls of commons), from N8, 500 – N20, 000, Hall5; N12, 500 – N25, 000, Hall6; N25, 000 – N45, 000. NDDC Hall; N60, 000 as against students expectation of between N25, 000 – N30, 000.

School charges: Freshmen  are now to pay N69, 000, while science students – N80, 000. At 200 levels, they will be expected to pay between N45, 000 and N49, 000 though the school authority was quoted to have given preference to old students whose fees would remain at N12, 500.  N20, 000 is now required to switch course that allegedly used to be free. UNIBEN bread that used to be N50, now sells at N100, students price.

The hostels that were originally designed to accommodate between two – four students, are now being made to accommodate eight students and in some cases, 15 students thus occasioning overcrowding, the students complain.

Both the Public Relations Officer of the school, Osasuyi Michael, and Dean of students’ affairs, Prof. Benson Osadolor declined comment when contacted by our reporter.