Acting Vice Chancellor of the Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma, Professor Asomwan Sonnie Adagbonyin, has debunked the news reports emanating from the institution as “truth standing on its head.”
Addressing a Press Conference this afternoon at the Conference Room of the Edo State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Benin City, Professor Adagbonyin said: “I make bold to tell you that a greater percentage of what is being canvased in the media, both conventional and social, is truth standing on its head.
“For long, purveyors of falsehood, merchants of propaganda, dwellers in the mansions of blackmail and revellers in the habit of reputation damage and de-marketing have used Ambrose Alli University and its Management as cannon fodder for pleasure and political profit. Perhaps no other University than AAU, a University that has produced great men and women, has suffered such bad press and been so pummelled.
“We are here today to address an issue that has for some time now taken a huge space in public conversations: the issue of school fees and protests in AAU. This appears to have formed the basis of other concerns.”
Going further, Professor Adagbonyin stressed: “there is no increment in the tuition fees of returning students. This is contrary to the news making the rounds that AAU has increased tuition fees for returning students to about 100percent Some reports even say 200percent or 300percent.”
On the ongoing students protest he asserted that “the erstwhile Student Union leaders currently leading protests against alleged hike in school fees, were part of the team that negotiated the ‘add-on’ fees they are now protesting against. When the then leadership threatened to shut the University gate because of some perceived issues, that of school fees was not even high up on the list of the issues.
“The only aspect of their agitation that is related to fees was the inclusion of returning (old) students in the Edo Health Insurance Scheme (EDOHIS). They claimed that they had reached an agreement with the Management of EDOHIS to exclude all returning students from 300L and above from the scheme. The students were informed that the agreement they spoke about would be implemented only if it was true and was officially communicated to the University Management. That communication has not reached us as we speak.”
On the Edo Health Insurance Scheme(EDOHIS), Professor Adagbonyin stated that “of all the tertiary institutions in Edo State enrolled in the EDOHIS policy, AAU students pay the least. Whereas other institutions pay N20,000, AAU students pay N16,000, the outcome of concessions graciously granted to our University on special appeal by this same University Management.”
According to the acting Vice Chancellor “dialogue was initiated and was still ongoing between the Management and the students’ representatives, and most of the issues raised by the students were already being addressed, when the students began the protest two days to the Edo State Local Government elections. Obviously, they had other ideas and had already decided to adopt confrontation as a strategy before pretending to be engaged in consultation.
“As an afterthought, the students hurriedly drafted a letter a day before the protest began and after meeting with the acting Vice-Chancellor. The letter reached the acting-Vice Chancellor the same day the protest began.”
In conclusion, Professor Adagbonyin disclosed that “Management assures all law-abiding students of the University that whatever concerns they may have will be adequately addressed. Management admonishes all students to always seek clarification and be well informed rather than engaging in acts that are detrimental to their wellbeing as students. A lot of misinformation is in the air, and all must keep emotions aside and seek clarifications whenever in doubt.”