Education stakeholders and other Nigerians have vehemently rejected the proposed move to increase the tuition fees in public universities to N750,000. Bola Olajuwon, Bisi Olaniyi, Chris Njoku, Owerri, Mike Odiegwu, Port Harcourt, Damola Kola-Dare, Ojoye-Kehinde Funmilayo, Victoria Amadi, Osagie Otabor, Akure, Elo Edremoda, Warri, Rosemary Nwisi, Port Harcourt, Damian Duruiheoma, Enugu, Sunny Nwankwo, Umuahia, BASSEY ANTHONY, Uyo, Segun Showunmi, Ibadan and Okungbowa Aiwerie, Asaba, report.

Education stakeholders across the country have rejected the alleged plan by the Federal Government to hike tuition fees in universities. According to them, any hike in such fees would be suicidal given the situation of things in the country. The stakeholders, who included parents-teachers association, parents, lecturers and undergraduates, spoke in interviews by The Nation correspondents nationwide.

Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Jos chapter, Dr. Lazarus Maigoro, during the nationwide peaceful protest organised by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), alleged that government was planning to hike tuition to N750,000 per student.

The NLC embarked on the nationwide protest in solidarity with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other affiliate unions, over the unresolved industrial dispute between the Federal Government and the lecturers.

Maigoro insisted that if fees were increased, the children of the common man would invariably be denied access to university education.

“Government is planning to increase the tuition fee in public universities to N750,000 and this is not acceptable to us in ASUU.

“We will not accept it today, tomorrow or forever; if that happens, the children of the poor and common people cannot go to the university,” he said.

 

 PTA to Fed Govt: jettison such move

Deputy National President, National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN), Chief Adeolu Ogunbanjo, called on the Federal Government to jettison such move. He noted that the prices of commodities had increased, and thoughts of hike in tuition in universities would amount to insensitivity on the part of government.

He said: “Federal Government should not do such now with the increasing cost of commodities. It means government wants to impoverish average parents, who cannot afford private universities; and parents striving to send their children to federal and state institutions.

“Federal Government should temper justice with mercy and refrain from doing that. Petrol price has just been increased, diesel price is also high. Prices of commodities have doubled.

“Be that as it may, Fed Govt would now propose a hike in tuition fees, that would be totally insensitive.  I believe President Muhammadu Buhari would not want such to happen,” Ogunbanjo said.

 

Don’t toy with our lives, says NANS JCC PRO

The Public Relations Officer, NANS Joint Campus Committee, Lagos Axis, Akintona Emmanuel Timilehin, said: “The recent report that the Federal Government wants to increase tuition fees is a very serious issue and the leadership of NANS Lagos Axis is concerned as to how the government will bring such up. This is a country where the common man can’t even afford the basic amenities, where inflation is presently on the high side, minimum wages can no longer solve problems, fuel hikes and insecurities of all kind around the country.

“We are with ASUU on their demands and we warn the Federal Government not to toy with the lives of the youths with this baseless proposal.”

 

‘Govt must consider low income-earners’

A woman who identified herself as Blessing Johnson expressed her displeasure on the issue. According to her, she currently has two children at the University of Lagos in their 100 and 200 level.

She told The Nation that she was a tailor and a low-income earner. She is not in support of such hike. Rather, she advised the government to make quality education a priority and not deprive the under privileged access to one.

A 400-Level medical Student, Cynthia Owugbufor from UNIZIK, did not also support the government on this issue.  Cynthia, who said she was speaking on behalf of majority of undergraduate students, urged the government to have a rethink. She described the move as barbaric.

 

Let the students pay, says lecturer

An anonymous lecturer of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Benin, Benin City, supported the proposal, stating that ASUU had tried it’s best for the students.

“Let the students pay. We have fought for them for far too long. What have they done to support us? The government blames ASUU for fighting for students. The consequences of this fight, among others include; nonpayment of our promotion allowance and other earned academic allowances. Meanwhile, our salary has not been increased since 2009. Therefore, it is time to allow the government to run the school the best it can,” the source said.

Victoria Nwanne, a Students’ Union Government’s Senate Clerk of the University of Benin Parliament, argued that the hike would exclude average Nigerians from acquiring education, adding that the Federal Government had failed in its duties in most sectors of the country.

She said: “The Federal Government has failed us; not only in the educational sector, but in every other sector as well. Proposing a hike in tuition fee of N750,000 automatically excludes the average Nigerians from going to school.”

A student of Medicine at  the University of Lagos, Chiamaka Ugwu, condemned the proposal, while arguing that “it is totally cruel and uncalled for”.

 

Block revenue leakages, Ondo stakeholders tell Fed Govt

Stakeholders in the education sector in Ondo State have urged the government to block leakages in revenue as well as to stop stealing of public fund instead of increasing tuition.

The stakeholders, who spoke in Akure, said it was wrong timing to increase tuition for the purpose of meeting the demands of ASUU.

Mr. Olu Ogunwumiju, a motor dealer, said there was enough money in the country.

Ogunwumiju urged the government to learn from history on how free education was provided by the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

His words: “It is not necessary to increase tuition. Without education, the country will be backward in the future. They should go and learn how Awolowo did it.”

A pensioner, Larry Akinbade, called on the Federal Government to look for alternative ways to raise money to meet ASUU demands

Chief Pius Nnadiukwu, a trader, said it would be difficult to determine if the government would fulfill its promise if tuition were increased.

Deputy National Chairman of the Labour Party, Alhaji Lamidi Bashiru, warned the Federal Government not to cause more hardship for the people.

 

‘Proposal will lead to confrontation’

Speaking with The Nation, the Southwest Coordinator of NANS, Com Tegbe Stephen, said even if ASUU said yes to the increment, students union would say no.

According to him, Federal Government is not serious with the way they are running affairs of this country, particularly the educational sector.

A teacher at Toprank Intellectual Academy, Akobo, Ibadan, Adeyemi Gbenga, said economic situation of parents should be considered before the increment because things were not financially okay for many of them.

He pointed out that the increment might be a discouragement to many  parents and students in pursuit of tertiary education.

In his remark, the Student Union Government (SUG) President of the University of Ibadan (UI), Adewole Adeyinka said the union didn’t have detailed information about the increment, adding that in his conversation with UI ASUU chairman sometimes Lagos, he mentioned that the government was going to increase the tuition fees to meet demand of ASUU.

 

 ‘It’s an attempt to deny children of the poor quality education’

A major stakeholder in the education sector in Benin, Edo State, Kola Edokpayi, who participated fully in Tuesday’s solidarity protest by members and friends of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on the lingering nationwide strike by the four unions in the universities, stated that the Federal Government proposing hike in tuition was an attempt to deny children of the poor to get quality education.

He also hailed the ASUU leadership for rejecting the proposed hike in tuition fees by the “insensitive Buhari administration”, which he insisted was not a step in the right direction.

Edokpayi said: “The move by the Federal Government to increase tuition fees in Nigerian universities, in the midst of economic disequilibrium, abject poverty and penury, is a very sad development, and an invitation  to anarchy.”

 

 ‘It’s not appropriate time’

A former Public Relations Officer at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), Mrs. Uche Nwaelue, has advised the Federal Government to drop the idea of hiking the school fees.

She suggested that the government should think of first tackling the issues of economy, salaries and stabilising the price of fuel before taking steps to increase the school fees.

“As a parent, I still have children – two of them – studying medicine. One of them should have graduated if not of Covid-19 and now, ASUU strike. It is by the grace of God that these children are not getting frustrated by now.”

 

‘Increasing school fees suicidal’

A retired teacher and parent, Esther Ogan, has urged the Federal Government to shun any move to increase school fees of public tertiary institutions, saying it would be suicidal to take such action.

Ogan, who spoke in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, yesterday, backed ASUU’s decision to resist the planned school fees increase

She said: ‘The Federal Government’s plan to increase tertiary institutions’ fees is insensitive, considering the plight of the people, especially at this time when salaries cannot provide three square meals and take care of house rents and other bills of workers. Why will you plan to increase tertiary institutions fees?

“The school fees for federal universities are already high. Thinking of increasing it will force many children to drop out of schools.”

 

 ‘It’s bad timing’

A stakeholder in Nigeria’s educa ional system, Professor Jim Omatseye, said it is bad timing for the Federal Government to propose hike in tuition.

The Professor of Educational Philosophy, in a telephone chat with The Nation, said rather than pass the bulk on to students, government should cut down on some expenditure.

Emphasising that education is key, he pointed out that  people in other government sectors of government are receiving increments in their pay, hence the case of varsity lecturers should be no exception.

Prof. Omatseye said: “The high inflation that has dominated our economy and way of life makes it extremely difficult for people to survive these days. And to increase fees for the average Nigerian student has little or no way of sustaining whatever increases are made by any government, federal or state or even private.”

 

Rivers stakeholders urges Fed Govt to reduce cost of governance

The state Chairman, Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Dr. Beatrice Itubo, Chairman Rivers State Civil Society groups, Enefaa George and a member of Civil Rights Council (CRC), Isaac Green, in their separate interviews in Port Harcourt, yesterday, condemned the plan and urged the government to rather reduce the cause of governance to enable it fix other needs of the country.

Each of the respondents noted that the citizens had gone through a lot and that the plan to increase tuition was a prove of government’s insensitivity to the plight of the citizenry and would be resisted to the last

 

‘It will force millions out of school’

Parents and guardians of university students in Enugu State have vehemently rejected the proposed hike, saying that the proposal, if effected, it would force millions of students out of school.

Speaking separately in Enugu yesterday, some of the parents accused the Federal Government of being insensitive to the economic hardship Nigerians are facing.

According to them, the current economic situation is already making the existing fees unaffordable for most parents and indigent students with some students already dropping out of school.

One of them, who is a secondary school teacher, Paul Ejike Ibe, expressed fear that 75 per cent of the undergraduates might drop out of school, if the government attempts to increase tuition in the universities.

A trader, Mr. Elijah Ofomata, while rejecting the proposed increment, said it was unfortunate that the government is coming with the proposed new fee regime without considering the present economic situation in the country.

 

 ‘It will be counter-productive’

Reacting to the development, an education rights activist, Mr. Kenechukwu Hillary told our correspondent that any attempt by the government to increase tuition fees will be counter-productive, especially in the face of the ongoing dispute between the government and various unions in tertiary institutions in the country.

Hillary, while lamenting the poor budgetary allocation to the education sector by the federal and state government, lamented the poor state of infrastructure in various schools.

“How can they be talking about an increase in tuition fees when there is nothing to show for? How can they be talking about considering increasing their tuition fees when ASUU is on strike?” he queried.

Stakeholders in Akwa Ibom reject fee hike

Stakeholders in Akwa Ibom State have unanimously rejected the plan.

According to them, Nigerians are already overburdened with the problems of high cost of living evidenced in increase in electricity tariffs, fuel pump price, food stuffs, aviation, insecurity, accommodation and many other areas.

Akwa Ibom State Chairman, Civil Liberty Organisation, Mr. Franklyn Isong, said it is inconceivable and insensitive for the government to contemplate increasing school fees.

Speaking in the same, the Chairman of the University of Uyo ASUU Chapter, Dr. Happiness Uduk, said the union is against the planned fee hike.Some stakeholders in the education sector have rejected the proposed hike in tuition of public universities. They urged the government to first meet the demands of the striking university lecturers before resorting to tuition hike.

Chairman, House Committee (Education) Delta State House of Assembly, Charles Emetulu, who spoke in an interview with our correspondent, said the proposed hike is tantamount to setting the cart before the horse.