By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo.
Normal academic activities were grounded at the Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic due to protest embarked upon by students of the institution over school fees increase by management.
Our correspondent observed that over 1500 students marched out as early as 5a.m carrying placards with various inscriptions and blocked the main entrance into the school at Ikot Osurua for hours and demanded the management of the institution to resend its decision on the new fees regime.
The situation was brought under control by a team of armed policemen and other security operatives who drafted to the scene of the incident.
Students’ Union Government (SUG) president, Kingsley Eyo, who led the protest, said the students embarked on a peaceful demonstration as a way of kicking against the 100 per cent increase in their school fees.
Eyo stated that when the management met and decided on the increase, they did not consult the students union, which is the mouthpiece of the students.
He explained that the students were not at all against the increase, but that if such were to be made, the percentage increase should not have been more than 15 per cent.
According to him, Pre-National Diploma students used to pay N45,000 but with the new fee regime, such students are to pay N86,200; the same with Higher National Diploma students whose fees have been increased from N38,000 to N85,700, and more.
The SUG President said once the Rector of the School, Mr. Israel Afia continues to insist on not reducing the fees to reasonable proportion, the strike action would be unending.
Other issues bothering the students union include non-release of results on time. He noted that there are some students who wrote their first semester examinations but only to get the same results in their final year.
According to Eyo, the students viewed the development as counter-productive since it prevented students who would have re-sat for their failed courses before final year from graduating.
Eyo added that the management had also hijacked Mami Market which was controlled by the students union. He stated that the dues from the market used to be paid to the student body which same also assisted the union to address some of its financial needs.
He stated that the school authority presently charges N30,000 from the kiosk owners without remitting a kobo to the students body. He also accused the management of taking the school car park from them.
“Mami Market used to be controlled by the students, the management hijacked it. The due from the market used to be paid to the students union.
“We even had a meeting with them that since they are collecting the money from those operating, why not give us out own percentage so that we can use this money to service the bus and other some other things.
“Even the park, there are some buses that are operating within the school, they hijacked this thing from us which is not proper,” he said.
However some students in their placards called for the removal of the Rector, alleging he had been involved in corrupt cases. They also accused him of insensitivity to the student plight.
An effort to reach the Rector, Mr. Israel Affia was not possible but he replied a text message sent to him. His reply read thus, “Not today, please. I am in a meeting somewhere. Let us talk later. Thanks.”