The National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Biodun Ogunyemi, has reiterated the stance of his colleague that the federal government is planning to force students in public universities to pay N350,000 tuition fee per session.
Punch newspaper earlier reported the allegation. According to the report, ASUU’s Ibadan Zonal Coordinator, Ade Adejumo, said this when he was addressing reporters at the Oyo State Correspondents’ Chapel of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Ibadan, the state’s capital.
Mr Adejumo said the objection of the union to the proposed tuition fee increase led to the collapse of 2017/2018 renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement.
“The union is again constrained to draw the attention of Nigerian public to an impending labour crisis in the Nigerian universities as a result of the insensitivity and non-challance of the Federal Government to issues critical to the survival of the educational system, he said.
“On the question of how the students will raise such money, the government’s answer is that it will establish an Education Bank, where students will access credit facilities and pay back on completion of their studies.”
The union said it would resist the imposition of a fee hike.
“We described the development as a ploy to deprive the poor of their rights to education, saying if the Education Bank is established, many students would not be able to access loans.
In an interview on Wednesday morning, the ASUU president said the figure was from a discussion with the government.
According to him, “the federal government wanted us to arrive at what it takes to sponsor an undergraduate and based on calculation, we arrived at that amount for Arts student and about 500,000 for science student.
“Our concern here is who pays and the government has not been releasing funds. We have suggested some other sources but we know government is the principal sponsor of public education because of the special role education plays in the development of any country,” he said.
Mr Ogunyemi said the proposal by the government is that an education bank will be established and loans will be given to students.
“There was massive corruption,” he said, adding that government funds were diverted into private use in many zones that the banks were operating.
“By the time they found out they could not go ahead with the bank, a ministerial committee was set up during Federal Executive Council, to shut it down. Now they want us go back to the same bank we tried for seven years which did not work,” he said.
Mr Ogunyemi said one of the reasons that the education bank failed was because of government’s inability to fulfil its financial obligation and “after the first year there was no money in the bank’s vault.”
Mr Ogunyemi said the rate of unemployment which is “scandalously high” will deter most students from paying the loans.
The federal government is yet to publicly speak on the allegation.
When contacted, the spokesperson of federal ministry of education, Willie Bassey, said he needs to attend to urgent health issues.
“I am with my doctor now, please call me later”, he said.
Samuel Olowokere, the spokesperson for ministry of labour and employment, did not reply requests for comments from PREMIUM TIMES as at press time.