After the heavy repression Unilag students experienced in their debut protest of Wednesday, 6th September, 2023, the success of the protest and the nationwide attention it garnered prompted them to trickle out again on Wednesday, 13th September, 2023 – as the 48-hour ultimatum NANS issued to Unilag management had elapsed.
Very early in the day, as students were trying to mobilize themselves for a series of protest, a NANS circular started spreading around that the president of the association had called of the protest with the understanding that the management had agreed to hold a meeting with the president of NANS on campus on Thursday, 14th September, 2023.
However, the comrades in the Students Solidarity Group, who are spearheading the movement implored the students to disregard the circular from NANS and the management; students were asked to go ahead with mobilization and commence the protest as billed.
We clustered under the morning rainfall, at the same point we converged on Wednesday, 6th September, 2023, with heavy police and DSS presence around University road.
While we were waiting for more students to arrive- we realized a lot of students weren’t turning up as expected partly due to the rainfall, and the NANS circular which undemocratically called off the protest, and other logistics issues.
While we tarried under the rain, before we knew it, gentlemen of the press from Channels TV and TV were on the other side of the streets with their cameras facing us. Reporters arrived in their sleek cars videoing us under the complex shade.
We started the protest holding our banner under the rain.Reporters from all media houses joined us under the rain as we marched boldly from University Road towards Unilag Gate. We were surveilled all along by the media team with the police trailing us at the back.
Sympathizers on the streets cheered us under the rain as an expression of solidarity. By the time we edged close to the school gate, the policemen formed a horizontal barrier by holding each other like they were some victims. We started our protest there and took turns speaking to the ladies and gentlemen of the press; some students held their placards up high; others chorusing #FeesMustFall and singing solidarity anthem under the drizzling rain.
Our demands remain consistent, that is the reversion of fees back to the N20,000 status quo. We also seized the medium to call for the reinstatement of the Students Union in Unilag. The protest was dissolved after the students convened a congress on the protest ground, around 12pm, and we called it a day with the consensus that we continue the protest the following day, Thursday,
The series of protest embarked upon by the students acted as a form of pressure on the university administration and by Thursday, 14th September, 2023, NANS president and the various faculty presidents were billed to meet with the VC and the DSA for a “downward review” of the newly introduced tuition fee. Members of the Students Solidarity Group mobilized the students for a protest in front of the Senate building, the venue of the meeting.
An hour before the meeting commenced, students were already protesting in front of the Senate building. The DSA had no choice than to come out to address the students. He pleaded with the students to exercise restraint and wait for the outcome of the management’s meeting with the NANS president and faculty presidents. The students responded by saying that it is only the congress of the students which can decide if the protest should be dissolved or not. Thereafter, the congress agreed to call it a day while they anticipate the outcome of the meeting.
By Thursday evening, Students got the report that the management, after about an hour of negotiations with the NANS president and Faculty presidents reached an agreement to reduce the tuition fees by N20,000 and the hostel fees N50,000, with a promise that the Students’ Union, which has been banned for years would be reinstated. This is a great victory for the Unilagstudents and shows that with our consistent struggle we can achieve much more. It also confirms the saying that “if we fight, we might win, if we do no fight, we have lost”. The struggle for further reduction, and possibly, total reversal of the fees, should however continue.
We salute the Unilag students for their determination and resoluteness in the struggle so far. However, it is not over until it is finally over. The demand for the immediate reinstatement of the Students’ union should be very loud now and not to be postponed. We should hold the university management by their words, we should suggest election time table with time frame. This is the only way we can protect our victory and also win much more.
SOLIDARITY FOR EVER!