By: Monday Stephen|Orezi Ese|5/7/2021

Students of the Niger Delta University have protested against the closure of school fees for the 2019/2020 and soon to be closed 2020/2021 academic session and the new policy of school uniforms.

Trouble started today 5th July 2021 when the Vice Chancellor, Niger Delta University visited the Faculty of Engineering to implement the law of uniforms and to announce the closure of school fees portal for 2020/2021 academic session.

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The meeting between the NDU management and students and Faculty members of Engineering commenced with the NDU anthem after which the Dean of Students Affairs Dr. Kemeakegha A. made an opening prayer. The VC who started his speech by praising the Faculty that they are doing something (community service) that no other Faculty has done before promised that he will change the chairs at ENLH1 and make it the Faculty Auditorium which means they will refurbish the building.

It was believed the meeting was going well before perceived provocative utterances, seen as daring the Engineering students that there is nothing that no one can do unless Senate reverse the current conditions.

It was widely alleged by the students that the VC concluded that “if you can’t meet the school orders, carry your bags and go home”.

Many of the Engineering students held that the meeting from inception went well until several unwarranted and daring statements were made by the VC. After the brief meeting with the students in the Faculty of Engineering, the students in response to the instruction given to them by the VC started the protest from the Faculty of Engineering down to New Site.

The major purpose of the strike was as a result of the school fees portal locking where the  VC was credited with a statement that for students who may be in final year but paid school fees last in 100 level, they are deemed to be students of that level. They are expected to pay school fees for the next level and start from there.

The VC went further to state that the Faculty of engineering is a Faculty they cannot neglect in the school because the Faculty has built students who has taken the name of the school World Wide and that the Faculty of Engineering is one of the best Faculty. The VC however admonished the students that they should not bear the wrong name of “Engineering Students” where whenever such name is mentioned, people refers to it with a wrong perception.

Our reporters stated that the VC asserted that it was the Senate that held a meeting – after the Campus shooting incident where a student lost his life – concerning the need for uniform and that the case of uniform identification didn’t start from him.

The VC added that when the uniform issue started, he was still the DVC, that it was 2017 when he was DVC they held a Senate meeting where all the HOD’s and Deans where present and they discussed about a means of identification for students in every Faculty. They came into a conclusion that they should use uniforms as means of identification after which the HOD’s where sent to their various Departments with a task to look for the best uniforms for their Departments. At that period, the present Dean of Engineering, Prof. Yelebe Zekieni wasn’t the Dean yet.

The VC stated that NDU wasn’t the first university to come up with such decision and they won’t be the last. The crowd went wild again saying they don’t want the uniform and that they are not primary school students.

After concluding about the uniform, the VC went on to talk about school fees. He said that most students here are not students anymore because they are still using Jamb registration numbers instead of Matric numbers and that the university has no record of them. The VC was directly talking to students in 200 level and above. A lot of murmur was made by the students even to the extent of the student telling the VC to “get out” that he was lying and doesn’t know what he was saying.

The VC later went on to talk about the closure of the 2019/2020 school fees portal that when they wanted to close it down in September 2019, that they took them to Bayelsa State Government, who later pleaded that they should extend the date of the payment by one month, that is from September, 2019 to October, 2019 and instead they extended it by a year and nine months. They have now concluded that the school fees portal and course enrolment portal be closed at the 11th day of June.

The VC further stated that the 2020/2021 school fees and course enrolment portal will soon be closed at the 11th day of July, and that there is nothing any one can do, that this is a decision from the senate which is irreversible that even Heaven cannot shift it unless the senate come back and change their mind.

He (VC) also said that if in case you haven’t made payment they will still open the portal for late registration and for returning students they will pay an additional fee of N4000, while fresh students will pay additional N2000. According to him everything was stated in the students’ handbook which the former Dean of Students affairs read out, but unfortunately most of the students have such handbook.

At this point, the students where very angry by what the VC said and the hall was filled with roaring of students. The VC on his part was also very angry and insisted that the hall should be quiet but to no avail.

He concluded by saying that those students that hasn’t paid their school fees should write a deferment letter to their HOD and that is not every student that they will allow to defer their admission… and those that they didn’t allow will be rusticated by the university. The students perceived the university don to have made these statements with pride and with the impression that there is nothing no one can do.

One part that infuriated the students was the VC’s statement that those students that are already in their final year that hasn’t paid their school fees for 200, 300, 400 will come back and repeat 200 level. The VC gave each Department an opportunity to ask a question.

The Department of Agricultural and Environmental Engineering was called first for their question, where a young man came out and asked that if in our school fees receipt you have already levied us to pay for medicals, library ID etc., then what is the essence of us paying additional fee for that?

The response of the VC did not go down well with the Engine students as he was responding differently that every university do levy non-indigenes to pay tuition fee, that unless it’s a Federal university. At that moment the students where very angry because he wasn’t answering the question he was asked.

The VC was very angry and said that if the students don’t keep quiet he will walk away, but that only got the students angrier but they had to calm down and listen to him. After he concluded he didn’t listen to the remaining six questions he just went off angrily.

Immediately the VC went out angrily, the students provoked and went outside with him after which they came back for a meeting. They later went back outside and blocked the road for no vehicle to pass, they even went forward to close the Faculty building door and even blocked the Dean of Engineering car not to pass.

The Dean later came in to plead with the students and admonished them but the students where very angry and upset. But he went further to say that you cannot achieve a listening ear from the VC by your current behavior, that we should look for another alternative to settle this issue, at that moment he was with the Dean of Student Affairs in company of another lecturer.

After he left, the students went on to call all the final year student for a meeting. As soon as they were done and came out from ENLH2 with cardboard papers with inscription, the protest immediately started around the campus.

It is expected that the protest will be continued tomorrow 8th of July, 2021.

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