Rebellion resisted

February 11, 2005

Nigeria's education minister Fabian Osuji has intervened to end campus unrest by ordering vice-chancellors to shelve plans to privatise student hostels.

The National Association of Students resisted the planned privatisation of university hostels. While lectures have resumed at the University of Ibadan, the University of Lagos remains closed. The senate at Lagos told students to vacate their hostels and dissolved the student union executive, after violent protests in which the vice-chancellor's residence burnt down and scores of students were injured.

Vice-chancellor Ibidapo Obe said: "The few students who carried out the terrorist attacks on university properties will be dealt with according to the rules governing the university."

Nigerian hostels cannot accommodate all the students admitted each year.

University authorities wanted to raise fees from $1 (£0.53) per bed space a session to US$35 to provide permanent water, electricity, security and air-conditioned reading rooms and lounge.

But student representatives opposed fee increases. There are allegations that a network of syndicates among student union leaders secure bed spaces for $1 and sell them for up to $350 - the rate for a bed at a private hostel.

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