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Parents Groan As Institutions Hike Fees By Over 100 Percent

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Most tertiary institutions in the country have hiked their fees by over 150 %, putting serious strains on the finances of parents and guardians who also have to contend with the poor state of the economy which has reduced purchasing power and savings.

Checks by Vanguard Learning in public universities across the country show that the increment in obligatory fees, which started late last year is continuing, as a new session starts in some schools this January.

Only on January 6, this year, for instance, the Federal University of Technology, Akure, FUTA, Ondo State came out with a proposal to hike fees by over 100%.

In the proposal, which is still being debated and worked on by the management and other stakeholders such as students and parents, fresh students are to pay N240,500, 200 level students N131,000, 300 level students N136,000, 400 level students N131,000 and final year students N127,500.

To show the steepness in the hike, four years ago, final year students paid only N13, 000 and even last year, when there was also an increase, they only paid N37,000 and may now pay N127,500.

Situations on some campuses

At the University of Jos, UNIJOS, charges were increased by over 100% because before now, students were paying N45,000, but this year, they are to pay between N95,000 and N160,000 depending on the department.

At the Plateau State University, PLASU, Bokkos, tuition fees are paid based on indigene and non-indigene factors.

The increment has also exceeded 100% as returning indigenous students who were paying N36,000 as tuition fees without other charges will now pay N80,000 without other charges, while the non-indigenes who were paying about N55,000 without other charges will now pay over N100,000 without other charges.

At the University of Uyo (UNIUYO), Akwa Ibom State, there has been a gradual increase in tuition fees in the last couple of years that reflects from the first year of admission in such a manner that students pay different fees for the same course of study at different levels.

A female Microbiology student, simply identified as Glory, told Vanguard Learning that she paid N105,750 as a fresher, just starting her 100 Level, but her counterparts in the Arts pay about N75,000.

Malta, a 300-level Arts student, paid N47,000 when she was admitted into the school three years ago. In the current semester, she is made to maintain the same tuition fee while new intakes are made to pay as high as N75,000.

A 200-level male student of Political Science said he paid a little above N60,000 in his first year of admission.

“This new session, I have not gone to pay, but I heard there is a little drop from what I paid in 100 Level. From what I have learnt, you are meant to maintain what you paid in your first year. Not everyone is affected by new tuition”, he said.”

At the Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijagun, returning students, who were expecting to pay N65,000, were slammed with N180,000 fee, while fresh students are to pay N240,000 aside from other fees.

At the University of Lagos, UNILAG, after much protest by students, students were asked to pay between N126,325 and N176,325 depending on the course of study.

At the Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, Ile Ife, Osun State, the management eventually reduced fees to N131,000 for students in Humanities, N141,000 for science and N164,000 for Medicine, Pharmacy and related faculties.

The story is the same at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Bayero University, Kano, Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto, University of Nigeria, Nsukka among others.

The universities were previously charging as low as N25, 000 a few years ago.

Universities’ reactions
The Vice Chancellor, University of Benin, UNIBEN, Prof. Lilian Salami, who is also the chairperson of the Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, recently led other VCs to submit a position paper of the group to the federal government on how to go about funding the system and handle the issue of hike in fees.

It was learnt that the team put the cost of training an undergraduate for a year at between N500,000 and N1 million excluding books, feeding and other sundry charges. The government is still stating it operates a free tuition system in those schools.

The VC, UNILAG, Prof. Folasade Ogunsola, at the peak of the protest against the increase in obligatory fees, said the issue is about providing sound education for young Nigerians.

“We all know the reality of the situation in the country now. Students have been paying about N20, 000 for over a decade now and can that be sustained in the present circumstance? People are complaining now because the government did not allow the universities to effect any increment, no matter how small for so many years. Look at the cost of running the hostels and even maintaining them. What about the cost of electricity and power? The costs are not static and the subvention to universities is not matching the costs. Remember, tuition is still free,” she said.

The spokesman for UNIJOS, Abdullahi Abdullahi, said, “We don’t pay tuition but school charges, before, it was N45,000 but right now, every department has different charges based on the services they provide. For returning students, it ranges from N95,000 to N130,000 but for the new students, it ranges from N130,000 to N160,000 or so. There are laboratory charges and other sundry charges.”

TASUED Registrar, Chief Dapo Oke, said, “In the entire Southwest, which state university is charging as low as N100,000? We have been collecting N65,000, when some secondary school children pay N100,000 per term and there are three terms in a year. But our university students are paying as low as N65,000 for a whole year. Is that enough to buy laboratory equipment, to pay staff salaries or to run on diesel 24 hours?

“These are issues that necessitated the increase, and before we made the increase, we discussed it with the Student Union Government. We’ve made them realise it, but they would still make their complaints. We will listen to their complaints; we will inform the government. At the end of the day, we will conclude,” he said.

Oke maintained that TASUED could not afford to run inferior academic programmes, compared to what obtains in other universities.

“So, we have to charge economic fees. What we have charged is the barest minimum in reality with the existing market forces,” he said.

A source in FUTA, who craved anonymity told our correspondent that, “The University has inbuilt mechanism within the system to look into and build consensus on matters affecting students including charges. And that mechanism is working on this matter and consensus will be achieved.

Fees are mainly for student-related services which are sourced from the economy. And the costs of such goods and services provided by the university for the students will certainly be impacted by costs of good and services in the economy.”

Parents and students’ reactions

The National President of the National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria, NAPTAN, Alhaji Haruna Danjuma, said it waa unfortunate that parents and guardians have been burdened with increment in fees at this point in time.

“We all know what the economic situation in the country is. Things are expensive, the purchasing power of the people greatly reduced. In fact, most people cannot save anything from their incomes, as the incomes are not enough to sustain their families.

“With these fee increases here and there, many students will be forced to drop out. We are not in support of the increment. We have made our position known to the government and the Minister of Education promised that a government team will meet with us and other stakeholders, we are still waiting for them to call us for that meeting, “ he stated.

Mrs. Esther Danlami, whose child is at UNIJOS, noted, “Since the increment, it has not been easy for us. My husband is a retiree, I am a Primary School Teacher and we have three children in the university. With the current economic situation, we are in a very dire situation.”

Reacting to the gale of fee increment across the country, even after the FG said the schools should put that on hold, the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, has condemned the proposed tuition fee increases by the management of the Federal University of Technology, Akure and the Federal College of Agriculture, also in Akure, Ondo State.

According to the Senate President of NANS, Comrade Akinteye Afeez, the development is unacceptable and could lead to students mobilising across the country to protest the development.

“The leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) issues this stern statement to the Federal Government of Nigeria, demanding immediate intervention in the looming crisis surrounding tuition fee increment across educational institutions in the country.

“We, the leadership of NANS, stand united and resolute in our commitment to protecting the rights and interests of Nigerian students.

To this end, the recent proposals for tuition fee increases, notably from the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), and Federal College of Agriculture, Akure (FECA), are unequivocally rejected.

“It is disheartening and worrisome that despite the Federal Government’s explicit instructions against tuition fee hikes, certain Vice Chancellors and heads of institutions seem poised to defy these directives.

“This we find barbaric, therefore, we declare that if these institutions persist in their disregard for the government’s stance, NANS will mobilize Nigerian students nationwide to stage a relentless protest, stampede, and shut down the country until our demands are met.

“We emphasize that the implementation of the new budget for education is closely monitored by NANS, and any attempt to burden students with additional financial strain will be met with fierce resistance. Education is a right, not a privilege, and we will not tolerate any infringement upon the accessibility of quality education for the Nigerian student.

“Education is not a privilege reserved for a select few; it is an inalienable right that must be made available to every Nigerian, especially the common man. The proposed tuition fee hikes, as put forth by institutions like the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), and Federal College of Agriculture, Akure (FECA), threaten to erode this fundamental right and push education beyond the reach of many.

“NANS vehemently rejects any policy that jeopardizes the accessibility of education to the common man. The negative effects of these tuition fee increments are far-reaching and have severe implications for our nation’s future.

“As fees skyrocket, many students, burdened by financial strain, will be forced to abandon their education. This tragic consequence will not only deprive countless individuals of their right to learn but will also exacerbate unemployment rates and drive some into criminal activities as a desperate means of survival.”

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Order CBN to honour Letters of Credit– SINET to Tinubu, NASS

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Amidst several hardships facing the Nigerian populace, the Social Integrity Network, (SINET) has urged President Ahmed Bola Tinubu and the leadership of national assembly to compel the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Mr. Olayemi Cardoso, to order and reconsider honouring the forward contracts that are genuinely backed up with proper compliant documents for utilisation against each Letters of Credit (LCs) opened by the commercial banks using the forwards as a hedge.

The group also urged the Federal Government to make further clarification concerning a statement credited to the CBN Governor on issues regarding the alleged and well-publicized revelations of a $2.4 billion forex trading fraud.

SINET recalled that “On February 5, 2024, the governor of CBN made this declaration in both his interactions with Senate committees and his interview on a national television, following the engagement of Deloitte Management Consultant to conduct a forensic investigation where he claimed that the said amount was uncovered.

A statement issued on Monday by SINET national coordinator, Ibrahim Issah, disclosed that “On the contrary, we wish to unequivocally state that these claims lack merit and do not take into account the consequences they will have on businesses, public perception, or the economy of our cherished nation and its implication on forex both at home and abroad.”

According to him, “Without sentiment, the claim is completely falsehood and unacceptable as he, the CBN governor, failed to consider its economic implications. It is pertinent to state that genuine businessmen and women across the country, borrowed Funds from commercial banks, some with interest rates as high as 30% to secure forex from the CBN through their respective commercial banks since CBN does not sell the dollars to individuals directly.

“The same funds have been deposited with CBN for the past one and half years for forwards allocated for which the Apex Bank is now claiming were fraudulent transactions. May we remind Mr. Governor that while the CBN allocated the forwards after collecting the naira for each forward allocated, the commercial banks used these same forward contracts as a hedge and issued Letters of Credit (LCs) to their various customers against their offshore credit lines and also as a sovereign guarantee to their offshore banks which stand unpaid till today as a result of the failure of CBN to honour the various forward contracts.

“May we also remind our CBN Governor that as a result of their failure to honour these contracts, the outstanding foreign loans continue to accrue interest (post-negotiation charges), which the commercial Banks are passing to their customers: the same customers you say do not have a genuine claim.”

The statement further stressed that, “The public would like to ask Mr. Governor the following questions: What will happen to the foreign bank that is expecting their payment to be paid back? What will happen to the businessmen and women who had borrowed Naira from commercial Banks and paid the same into the CBN account for the purchase of forex for over eighteen months? Who will bear the interest charged on borrowed funds locally? Who will bear the charges running against the offshore lines used in establishing Letters of Credit? What will happen to the businesses? What will happen to the employees that are dependent on the survival of the businesses that CBN is trying to kill?

“We call upon the senate president and, in fact, the president and Commander In-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to call the CBN governor to order and reconsider honouring the forward contracts that are genuinely backed up with proper compliant documents for utilisation against each Letters of Credit (LCs) opened by the commercial banks using the forwards as a hedge.

“Let us state categorically that the CBN is killing businesses by cancelling the forward contracts that were sold to them about 18 months ago at the rate of N450/dollar and now selling the same funds to the commercial banks and directing the bank to sell the money at the rate of 1,500/dollar to the same businesses who initially had a forward contract at the rate of N450/dollar.

“May we also remind Mr. Governor, that failure to honour these forward contracts is taking commercial banks longer time to clean the offshore lines already used for establishing Letters of Credit against which shipments have been done and payment made to LC beneficiaries by the offshore banks. The delays of the commercial banks to settle their Forex obligations to their offshore banks is making our country risk to be very high.

“Lastly, the public will like to call on the coordinating minister for the economy, Mr. Wale Edun to engage the CBN regarding this issue of undelivered forward contracts because at present in Nigeria, almost 60% of companies in the manufacturing sector have been closed due to the volatility of Forex in Nigeria in order to avoid the other 40% from also closing down.

“This will go a long way to help the few remaining manufacturing companies still in operation in Nigeria and also encourage the new investors that the president and commander in-chief of the federal republic is trying woo to bring their investments to Nigeria.”

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Senate Passes Sen Ashiru’s Bill To Establish National Road Transport Council

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The Senate on Tuesday granted first reading to a bill seeking to establish a National Road Transport Council which is to be saddled with the responsibility of regulating the road transport industry and the transport profession in Nigeria.

The bill titled National Road Transportation Council (Establishment) Bill 2024 is sponsored by Deputy Senate Leader Senator Oyelola Ashiru and was introduced to the Senate plenary after the Senators resumed from their 30 day recess.

Further details of the bill fronted by the Kwara South Senator reveals that if signed into law a council board will be established which shall consist of a Board chairman and six members drafted from each geo-political zone of the country.

More insights of the bill sighted by the Sun also states that the board shall be presided by a representative from Ministries of transport, commerce and industry and aviation and they shall not be below the rank of a Director.

As highlighted in the explanatory memorandum of the bill , [b]the functions of the proposed council include; creating an effective regulatory framework on road transport service operators; determining the standard of knowledge and skills required for road transport service operators; encouraging the advancement of education in road transportation; ensuring accessibility of road transport facilities, [/b]channels, and routes; monitoring the performance of the regulated road transport industry; conducting background check on road transport service operators; registering all road transport service providers and determine the fees for such registration; setting guidelines and general policies for road transport service operators; updating the Federal Government on its activities and progress through annual and audited reports; reviewing progress and suggest improvement within the provisions of this Bill and do such other things as are necessary or incidental to the objects of the Council under this Bill or as may be assigned by the Federal Government.

The bill received the nod of the Senators via voice votes presided by the Senate President Godswill Akpabio shortly after it was introduced to the floor of the Red Chambers by the Leader of the Senate, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele.

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