343 views | Kenechukwu Ofomah | February 27, 2021
The Chairperson, Academic Staff Union of Universities, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka Chapter, Dr Steve Ufoaroh has called on the Federal and State Governments to fund university education as a basic right of citizens of the country.
The Federal Government had insisted that the only way to sustain funding education in Nigeria is to introduce tuition fees in Federal Universities.
This has generated serious backlash from various quarters as well as constitutes a key area of disagreement between ASUU and the Federal Government.
In a chat with TNC correspondent in Anambra on Thursday, Dr Ufoaroh said ASUU has persistently resisted the Federal Government’s plans as anti to access to quality education by citizens.
According to him, if government succeeds in introducing such policy, it will spell doom for education in Nigeria, as many families cannot afford the tuition fees.
“We, in the system, know that such policy direction will be very difficult for our students. Anybody that you see in the public university is from an average family that does not have much. If they do, they wouldn’t have been here. They would have opted for some private university. Imagine a student that is struggling to pay fifty thousand naira school fees and all of a sudden, you introduce tuition fees and the money goes up to 200,000 or 150,000. The student will simply drop out of school. Look at what is happening in State Universities and what they pay. Many families cannot afford their fees and that is driving the massive population you see in Federal Universities,” he noted.
In his analysis, such dropouts will turn to a menace and haunt the society and then, no one will be safe.
“We may get some of our students engaging in crime and prostitution to be able to pay these exorbitant fees. And if eventually, they graduate from school after all these sufferings and there are no jobs for them, they will turn against the society and no one will be spared. We are sitting on a time bomb and except we begin to show them this care, they will react someday. And when they do, ENDSARS will be a child’s play,” he expressed.
The UNIZIK ASUU boss who maintained that it is wrong to tax students to be able to build universities, revealed that ASUU has suggested realistic ways of raising funds to support universities but government lacks the political will to pursue the ideas due to political interests.
“If government can fund education as a basic right of citizens, then we will make a headway. That’s the stand of the union. You can’t be saying you want to promote education on one hand and on the other hand, you are introducing policies that will bring retrogression to the system. Stop taxing the students to build university infrastructure. Just like they build toll gates to raise money for road infrastructure. They give you electricity and water, you pay for it and for everything. What then are the benefits you get from the government you elected. What we are saying is that they should build the universities and when they are built they will be poised to generate funds just like we have in developed countries. We have suggested to government the various areas through which they can raise funds but they won’t go there because of political interest,” he regretted.
On the special COVID intervention funds promised to universities to fight COVID, Dr Ufoaroh revealed that no university in the country has received anything in that light.
According to him, no single infrastructure has been provided by government to fight the pandemic.
“Even the 30 billion naira we were able to negotiate with government for infrastructural development in the university, has not been released. So, the government does not care about the masses of this country. It is that bad,” he regretted.