New Democrat (Monrovia)

Liberia: UL Blasts Lawmakers - Rejects 'Oligarch' Claims

The University of Liberia has rejected an oligarchy claim labeled against the institution's authority by Montserrado Distgrict#11 Representative Gabriel Nyekan.

In a letter addressed to the House's plenary Tuesday, lawmaker Nyekan called on his colleagues to invite UL's President Dr. Emmit Dennis to give reasons for the sudden increase in tuition from LD175 per credit to US$5, a move he said if implemented will only benefit few oligarchs at the detriment of suffering students.

The Montserrado lawmaker also said such increment would be too exorbitant for the students to handle. He said government has already increased the University's budget exponentially and warned against any increment in tuition.

His remarks also accompanied series of student protests aimed at adverting the sudden tuition rise, where several students stormed the Capitol Building grounds during the President's Annual Address to the National Legislature, efforts the students say were clearly aimed

at craving the lawmakers' attention as well as seeking President Sirleaf's swift intervention.

"We all must be reminded that the UL is not a private institution meant for profit accumulation (by) few oligarchs. Rather, the institution as such, should be public funded at the reasonable expense to the young people of Liberia" Representative Nyekan's letter reportedly written to the House's plenary indicated.

He said he was also concerned that, given past experience regarding student protests, he noted, "Some of our constituents could get killed depending on the intensity of the brouhaha as we have sadly witnessed in the past."

But, in reaction to Representative Nyekan'e claims, the University of Liberia Wednesday described his remarks as being of "poor taste".

In a press release issued Wednesday by UL Vice President for Human Relations, Dr. S. Momolu Getaweh, authorities at the University of Liberia denounced Representative Nyekan's classification of the institution's administration as oligarchs.

Instead of accusing and terming the UL's authorities as oligarchs and people who want to acquire handsome wealth at the expense of poor students, the UL press statement called on Representative Nyekan to be mindful of his diction, saying, "While we have no qualms with the Hon. Representative's complaint or issues, let it be stated that (UL President) Dr. (Emmett) Dennis and his officials at the University are not "oligarchs." We are public servants with many, many years of experiences and buckets full of certificates, diplomas and degrees in our respective disciplines."

"We're rendering sacrificial services to this nation. And if any Honourable Member of the House intends to invite us, they should couch their language in a more respectable diction. But not to refer to us as "oligarchs" who are bent on accumulating super profits. This is unacceptable" Dr. Getaweh stressed.

Concerning the direct allegation made by legislator Nyekan, the UL said there're means through which the instruction generates funds to operate, tuition being one of the three, including budgetary allocation and donations from the University's foreign partners.

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