As it is with many Nigerians, the economic pains occasioned by the petroleum subsidy removal and the tuition fee regime sweeping across tertiary institutions in the country have continued to create rumble among students and human rights advocacy groups.
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), the National Association of Polytechnic Students (NAPS) and the Education Rights Congress (ERC) have not relented in appealing to the government to prevail on heads of institutions not to stifle students into frustration as the economic situation in the country bites harder.
To the students, the removal of the fuel subsidy by the federal government of Nigeria has continued to spark concerns across various sectors, with one of the most impacted groups being Nigerian students.
Against the rising cost of living, the bodies of students under various platforms have called on the government to implement a targeted palliative plan to alleviate the burdens placed on students.
Across many campuses, the cost of feeding, daily needs, cost of transportation and accommodation have been on the rise as it is becoming inconvenient for students to concentrate on their primary concern which is learning, reports Daily Independent.
On the other hand, students are beginning to doubt the workability of the Student Loan Scheme introduced by the Federal Government as the January take-off date has failed again despite assurances given by President Bola Tinubu’s administration.
Pundits believe that the decision by the presidency to include people who are not in the formal academic learning sector but are acquiring vocational skills through organised trade bodies or trade centres, as part of the beneficiaries is militating against the take-off as promised.
NANS JCC Ondo Axis Frowns At Exorbitant Tuition Fees, Hardship Among Students
As the spate of increments in tuition fees continues in many universities across the country, Salami Rosheed, the Acting Chairman of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Joint Campus Council, Ondo Axis expressed deep concern and total bitterness regarding the recent increase in school fees at the Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA).
He said, “As the apex students’ representative body in the state, we vehemently oppose this decision and we are prepared to take necessary actions to ensure that it is rectified in no distant time.
“The exorbitant fee is not only disheartening but also unpalatable at this time in the history of our country faced with numerous economic crises. As the apex student body in the state, we speak on behalf of the students whose aspirations and academic journey are now being jeopardized by this unexpected burden and inhumane increment.
“We firmly believe that education is a fundamental right and not a privilege reserved for some selected few, hence, education must be accessible to all Nigerian students.
“The recent cruel decision to inflate tuition fees goes against the principles of accessibility and equality that education should embody.
“Though the association lauded the efforts of the President to ease the financial constraints of Nigerian students, NANS JCC Ondo Axis lamented that the hardship being visited on students and their parents has become choking and demanded immediate re-evaluation and reversal.
“Let it also be made known that the current surge in fees has already created insurmountable challenges for students and families. “This hike not only undermines the commendable strides made in educational funding by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu but also contradicts the very essence of fostering an environment where education serves as a vehicle for social mobility.”
The Association lamented, “Furthermore, the implications of such a fee increase are dire. Students, the backbone of our nation’s intellectual capital, are now forced to navigate through financial distress, sacrificing their dignity and potential for a brighter future. The purported 400 per cent hike scheduled for 2024 is a move that not only contradicts the spirit of accessible education but also threatens to quash the dreams of many aspiring minds.
“We call on the FUTA management to reconsider this decision immediately. Failure to do so will be met with resolute action from the student body. We are prepared to employ every lawful means at our disposal to ensure that the fundamental right to affordable education is not trampled upon.”
The NANS JCC Ondo Axis for emphasis enumerated the demands of the group as a reversal of the tuition fee hike, and engagement in a transparent dialogue with the student representatives.
According to the association, the season of hikes has inflicted more economic and social challenges forcing a large number of students into the streets, subjecting them to perilous lives.
“It is rather unfortunate and derisive that students have resorted to hawking, and petty trading, and some have fallen victim to labour exploitation, prostitution, and fraudulent activities—all to fund their education.
“Shockingly, in 2024, the school management plans to impose a staggering 400 per cent hike in tuition fees, further endangering the promising prospects of its students.”
NAPS Says Hike Is Anti-Students
At the end of its convention held in Osogbo, the Odun State capital, the National Association of Polytechnic Students (NAPS) South West Zone, the Umbrella body for all Students in the Polytechnics, Monotechnics, Colleges of Statistics, Cooperative Colleges, Colleges of Health Sciences and allied institutions awarding National Diploma (ND) and Higher National Diploma (HND) within the South West States of the Federation, said management of institutions within the zone have continued to oppress students.
The Zone frowned at the development that has increased the blood pressure among students, saying all hikes in tuition fees under any guise are tantamount to anti-student policies capable of frustrating students and forcing their members to drop out of school.
According to NAPS, the recent skyrocket in food items and commodities across the nation has continued to inflict serious deprivation on students and parents, saying the burden of the economic hardships has become too burdensome for students to bear, saying it has led to an increase in the poverty rates and hunger.
Speaking on the state of the nation, NAPS in a communiqué at the end of the convention, condemned widespread kidnapping across the country and appealed to all faceless groups inflicting unnecessary pain, anguish and bitterness to armless citizens, crisis entrepreneurs in the country to stop in the best interest of peace, tranquillity and peaceful co-existence.
NANS Headquarters Seeks Student-Centred Palliative Programme
Worried that many students have resorted to trekking from residents and within the campuses due to hikes in the intra-campus shuttle and irregular eating habits by students in the Wake of Fuel subsidy removal, Akinteye Babatunde Afeez, President of the Senate, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) Headquarters urged the Federal Government to initiate and implement a targeted palliative plan to alleviate the burdens placed on students.
0Students represent a vulnerable demographic, and the ripple effects of subsidy removal directly affect our ability to pursue education. The increased transportation costs, resulting from elevated fuel prices, disproportionately impact students who often rely on public transportation. This surge in daily expenses exacerbates the financial strain already faced by many students.
In light of these challenges, we call upon the federal government to design and implement a palliative plan that directly addresses the needs of Nigerian students. A well-structured plan could include targeted financial assistance, subsidies on essential goods, and increased funding for education to mitigate the indirect consequences of subsidy removal.
He appealed to the government to consider the challenges facing students as unique amidst hardships in the country and appealed for the implementation of a comprehensive palliative plan to foster a conducive environment for academic pursuits and secure the educational future of countless Nigerian students.
Fee Hike May Truncate Academic Pursuit Of Many – ERC
A rights group, the Education Rights Campaign (ERC), described the over 442.5 per cent hike in fees by the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Complex (OAUTHC) College of Nursing Sciences as anti-poor.
ERC said the new fee regime announced in December should be reversed, saying “HND fees were increased from N140, 000 to about N840, 000 (nearly a million naira) while that of ND students were increased to N536, 000.
The group lamented, “These exorbitant fee hikes are anti-poor and capable of truncating the academic pursuits of students from poor and working-class backgrounds. It is pathetic that this increment was with the full knowledge of the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, which supervises the hospital.
“Though the school has implemented a paltry reduction of the fees from N840,000 to N640,000 for HND students and from N536,000 to N361,000 for ND students, ERC said the “reduction itself is not only inadequate but provocative as it erroneously assumes that students of the College are children of rich parents whereas they are mostly indigent students or from the poor working-class families struggling to get an education to better their lives.”
The group demanded a total reversal of the fees saying indigent students and others from working-class families struggling to get an education to better their lives should not be deprived.
However, as Nigerians await the implementation of the Student Loan Scheme, students have appealed to President Bola Tinubu to ensure the workability of the programme to the benefit of all and sundry.
On the contrary, ERC stated, “We have some reservations about some provisions of the law setting up the scheme. For instance, the issue of repayment of the loan, where are the jobs for the beneficiaries to engage in after leaving school? We have other observations, but they have not given us the chance to make any input. Can it take off this month? Let us wait and see.”