Students of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) staged a peaceful protest on Wednesday, September 6, 2023, against the increase in tuition fees by the institution. The protest, which started around 10 a.m., saw hundreds of students marching from the main gate to the Senate building, chanting slogans and carrying placards with messages such as “Education is a right, not a privilege”, “Say no to fee hike”, and “We are not ATM machines”.
The protest was reportedly peaceful until the police officers who were on ground to monitor the students fired tear gas and rubber bullet shots at them, causing panic and chaos among the peace protesters. Some students claimed that they saw a male colleague fall to the ground after being hit by the plastic bullet in the leg, while others ran for cover. However, there is no confirmation at the time of this publication about the number of casualties or injuries, and it has also be confirmed that the school is on lockdown, no access in and out of the school premises.
The protest was triggered by the announcement of the UNILAG management that the tuition fees for the 2023/2024 academic session would be increment for all courses. The management said that the decision was taken due to the economic situation in the country and the need to improve the quality of education and infrastructure in the institution. The management also warned that any protest with disruptive consequences may lead to the closure of the institution.
The students, however, rejected the fee hike, saying that it was unjust and insensitive, especially in the midst of a epidemic economy recession. They argued that education is a fundamental right that should be accessible and affordable to all Nigerians, regardless of their social or economic status. They also accused the management of mismanaging funds and failing to account for previous allocations and donations.
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) had earlier issued a statement in support of the UNILAG students, saying that they have the right to express their grievances and demand for quality education. The NANS also warned the Department of State Services (DSS) not to prevent students from exercising their rights to protest.
The UNILAG protest is one of the many protests that have rocked Nigerian universities in recent times over issues such as fee hike, poor infrastructure, inadequate funding, and academic staff strike. The students have called on the federal government and other stakeholders to intervene and address their concerns before it is too late.