Roland Bayode And Feranmi Okuku
The students which include some of the stakeholders of tertiary institutions in Ondo State have expressed their concerns over the credibility of Ondo state governorship aspirants.
In the course of the interview, it was discovered that the students want the incoming/re-elected governor to address the increased tuition fees. However, it was gathered that Governor Akeredolu has recently reduced the tuition fees of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba (AAUA). Despite the expectations students have towards the incoming/re-elected governor, most of them did not hide the fact that they were sceptical about the reliability of anyone who has chosen to label himself or herself as a politician. This according to them is due to past antecedents of behaviours exhibited by politicians.
Ondo state students are patiently waiting for the election day to make a big and necessary decision as regards the individual they trust is most capable to harness the affairs in the state and make favourable contributions to the educational sector, which includes a reduction in tuition fees. Some of the students also expressed their opinion, which is that the aspirants should release feasible plans on how they intend to go about fulfilling their promises.
The state president of the National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS), Comrade Akinteye Babatunde opined that it is during this election period that many governorship aspirants will be using education as a key factor and strategy to emerge. He disclosed that politicians’ words are gammons and hard to trust. He also made a reference to the promise of the incumbent while he was campaigning years ago.
In his words, “Even Aketi once promised not to touch the fee when he got elected but you can see what we have today in Ondo state.”
In reaction to Mr. Eyitayo Jegede’s promise about the reduction in tuition fees, he said, “Even though he might be real with his promises, it is still not logical to return school fees back to 30,000 naira. We still lack some facilities despite the fact that students are paying 150,000 naira. The question is, how does he intend to run the education sector with just 30,000 naira” He suggested that a legal document should be shown to the students’ bodies regarding how he plans to reduce the fees to 30,000 naira. According, to him, he made the suggestion because it will be difficult to checkmate him once he is elected as governor.
He advised Ondo state students to vote wisely and ensure that their interests as students are protected by voting for one who will make their welfare and tuition fees reduction a priority.
The Chairman of the Council of Governor in Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo (RUGIPO), Comrade Oluyede Adeleke who is representing the students’ union government said that the governor has been working on building the senate building of the institution.
As regards the increment, he revealed that students of the institution have been agitating for reduction and he is of the belief that the time to get a positive answer to their request has finally come.
He explained, “I recall when we protested against the increment in tuition fees then, we told the governor that we will be waiting for him to seek re-election into office. Students have shown up on social media, expressing their grievances and the need for tuition fees to be reduced.”
He expressed his disappointment, saying that the incumbent governor performed below his expectations compared to his predecessor, Olusegun Mimiko.
An alumnus of Adekunle Ajasin University who was also the former NANS director of campus affairs, Comrade Ayodele Oyedokun affirmed that his major expectation is that power must change hand and that the education sector in the state must be revived.
He critiqued the increment in tuition fees, saying nothing was done in the school unlike the previous administration when they were paying a far lesser price. According to him, there was no adequate justification for the increment; the government just felt the amount students were paying was too small.
Comrade Oyedokun was of the opinion that Mr. Eyitayo’s promise regarding the reduction of tuition fees is an accepted ideology that will give a ray of hope and light to the students.
In his words, “It is a welcome development, Nigerian students are very happy with the promise. If the promise is fulfilled, it will definitely put smiles on the faces of many students. Since he is the only candidate that has promised such publicly, students have been throwing their weight behind him.”
He added, “We want a leader that will pay more attention to the plights of Nigerian students to ease their burdens.”
The students’ union president of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba (AAUA), Olusegun Obagunwa, was of the opinion that election is always unpredictable and he prayed that any candidate who emerges should be student-friendly and also contribute voluminously to the students’ constituency.
In his comment about Mr. Eyitayo’s promises regarding the improvement in the standard of education and reduction of tuition fees in Ondo State, the 400 level student of Guidance and Counselling, Obagunwa said, “I do not believe in mere talks. I only believe in reality and I do not believe in what has not been proved.”
He also explained further, saying, “At first, we used the three C’s of Aluta, which is Consultation, Consolidation, and Confrontation but we did not achieve the desired result. Then we went back to the table to re-strategize how we can get the exorbitant price reduced, you will agree with me that the period of election is the best time to seek the face of the politicians and that was what we did. Fortunately, it led to the governor’s decision to reduce the tuition fee across the state.”
The president of the department of Mass Communication in AAUA, Adesola Ikulajolu was of the belief that the standard of education in the state is not poor and demanded to know the magical schemes Mr. Eyitayo intends to adopt in order to get the educational system in a stunning phase when he reduces the tuition fees.
He explained, “Our educational standard in Ondo state is not poor, we only long for an improved system. If a candidate has come to say there will be a reduction in tuition fees, then he should let us know how feasible it would be. The candidate might want to play politics with us.”
As regards his knowledge of any completed or on-going project by the incumbent governor in his institution, he said only the government can give an account of that.
In his words, “When it comes to the project, it is not something sudden. Nevertheless only Mr. Governor can give details on that because there might be yet to be completed projects.”
Ifedayo Odeleye, a 500 level law student of AAUA was of the opinion that the incumbent governor will be re-elected due to his stronger influence.
He said, “I expect Mr. Akeredolu to be re-elected. Given the current political climate in Ondo state, it will be a far-fetched expectation to think that the government is about to change reins. Already there is a polarization of interest between Eyitayo Jegede and the deputy governor. If they were together it would have been better but now that they are apart, the interest is already split into three ways. Governor Akeredolu has the advantage of being an incumbent, therefore; he is going to throw in all his weight to make sure that he is re-elected.”
Ifedayo reacted to Eyitayo Jegede’s promises, saying he expects him to fulfil his promises if he is elected. However, he added that politicians are not to be trusted because they have demonstrated over the years, a lot of infidelity to their words. So he considered it unwise to bank on the words of politicians.
He explained that reducing tuition fees should not be a big deal for any administration. In his words, “Any government can reduce the tuition fee if they have the interest of the people at heart. AAUA was previously run on a low tuition fee and it was run successfully. Therefore, reducing the fee should not hurt the government.”
He lamented that the school was better off when it was being run based on a low tuition fee compared to the period of the increment. His reasons being that despite the increment in tuition fees, lecturers are still being owed over three months’ salary and there are a lot of damaged infrastructures in the school and there is nothing that is being done about it.
Comrade Damilola Okunomo, the current students’ union president of Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology (OAUSTECH) expressed his displeasure towards the increment of tuition fees, which according to him has been causing hardship for students of the institution. He stated that he was not standing for any political party but the interest of the students of OAUSTECH is his major priority as the president.
While reacting to Mr. Eyitayo Jegede’s statement on reducing the school fee, he said he has really spoken the minds of the students, but action speaks louder than voice. “This is one of the basic things the students want but, it is easier said than done. I’m not against anybody but, if God says he’ll emerge then, let’s see.”
He explained that there has not been vast infrastructural development in the school after the demise of the late Dr. Olusegun Agagu until Governor Akeredolu’s administration. “OAUSTECH has gotten new buildings such as the senate building, the main auditorium, and library but we are still expecting him to reduce our school fees.”
Another 300 level student of OAUSTECH, Pelumi Olotu, from the Department of Animal Production and Health Science has said he is hoping for the best in the upcoming election.
Commenting on the hike in tuition fees, he stated, “The same school fees that our Excellency says can’t buy a pair of shoes can as well spare someone’s life and career.”
In reaction to Mr. Eyitayo’s promises, he said, “I can say all politicians are the same but to be candid, students are optimistic as a result of his statement, it has got them thinking that he might be the messiah they seek. However, just as I have said earlier we never can tell what will happen.”
He added that the former governor of the state Dr. Olusegun Mimiko made a name for himself by building a university in his own home town and did many other projects but not to his school aside from the fact that the fees were not increased during his tenure.
He further said that the current governor, Rotimi Akeredolu has also made his mark by building a senate building and commissioning the school library in his institution. “I wouldn’t say our Governor has not done anything, he has done something but what the students are crying for is the reduction in fees. The students are not getting the worth of the school fees they are paying. For instance, the lack of good lecture theatres, irregularity in the supply of electricity in the school area, and other educational facilities needed to aid learning.”
Olubodun Olalekan, a 300 level Mechanical Engineering student of Ondo State University of Science and Technology (OSUSTECH) also said he’s hoping for a credible, free, and fair election. He expects that the election process will give room for electorates in the state to come out and vote en masse for the candidate of their choice without any form of fear and intimidation.
In reaction to the promises made by Mr. Eyitayo regarding the reduction in school fees, he opined that most of the aspirants are aware of the strong desire of Ondo state students. In line with this, he said there is more probability that Mr. Eyitayo might just be using it as a campaign strategy.”
Speaking about the projects done in his institution by the incumbent governor, he said, “Mr. Akeredolu has recently come to inaugurate the administrative building, university hall, and a new library, and sometimes ago he came to commission a road that was tarred.”
He added, “I’ll just say that the entire student populace of Ondo state needs to be careful at this point because we don’t know who really has our sympathy at heart. In other words, we shouldn’t just rely on mere words but also look out for actions and go back into the pages of history to see the antecedents of these people.”
The students’ union president of the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), Abraham Esedere, who is a 400 level student from the Department of Metallurgy and Material Engineering, was of the belief that Nigerians are grown enough to make a good decision, in terms of voting the right candidate in. According to him, every electorate should vote for whom they consider the best.
He explained, “Everyone contesting is a politician, they always have good promises at all times. Before Governor Akeredolu was elected, he had several promises. It is a good one to have promises to fulfil in the form of a manifesto, electorates will support you based on their interests.”
Ifeoluwa Ajele, the public relations officer of the students’ union in FUTA has said, “Although my school is a federal institution, I believe the institution is still in Ondo state and when there is progress in the state it will inadvertently affect the institution. I desire that people’s choice prevail. Nothing more, nothing less.
As regards the promises of Mr. Eyitayo Jegede, he opined, “I am a student politician. I made promises before I got to the office. When I got there, I saw certain conditions that are even beyond the pre-election politicking. The reduction of the tuition fees is a major way to win the hearts of students and every institution in Ondo state clamouring for it. Howbeit, talk is cheap. It is most likely to be just a punch line to win the students’ hearts but time will tell. Nevertheless, may the best man win.”
According to him, he has no knowledge of any project embarked upon by the incumbent governor in his institution. He said, “Obviously, the present administration perceives the tertiary education system as an investment more than the essence of education as laid down by Awolowo in those days. This has therefore resulted in the indifferent attitude portrayed by the government towards average students in the state. It is no surprise that students’ lives are being compared with the price of a pair of shoes. It’s all politics; they do not want to invest in education and not get back something monetary in return.”
Ayomide Azeez, who is also a student of FUTA did not mince words when he said he is expecting a change in power. In his words, the 400 level student from the Department of Metallurgy and Material Engineering opined, “My personal expectation is a change in power as the current government has not been performing well in the educational sector of the state despite the increased tuition fee.”
According to Ayomide, Mr. Eyitayo is the best man who deserves to win in the upcoming governorship election. He said, “With the four years the incumbent governor has used in power, I do not think he has any plan to improve the standard of education in the state. My best bet is on Mr. Eyitayo Jegede.”
A final year (Physiology department) student of FUTA, Emmanuel Agbolade said he has lost faith in the Nigerian government and therefore has no expectation towards the upcoming election in the state. He lamented that it is obvious that the state of the country is degrading because the government would rather open airports than open schools; they would also preferably open markets than open churches.
Reacting to Mr. Eyitayo’s promises, he believes that they are just campaign strategies.
“Everything is a word of mouth until we see what happens.”