By Friday Inoyo
First and foremost, we have insisted that what University of Calabar needs is reduction in fees not increase that sets the stage for denial of access to tertiary education in a State with less than 9% enrollment rate.
It is true that we are foisting them to do what they won’t usually do_revisit the student community and the general public, and to engage them with their scrutinized dossiers.
How there is an advanced plan to hate and frustrate the poor has left us deeply worried. You can’t love the rich and despise the poor on the basis of what they have acquired but by how they view the world and treat all humans.
How people stand for the elites because of financial gains is exactly what has left Nigeria in this mess. We must rise and bring story telling to advocacy, as a tool to vivify and bring the visuality of individual frustration to all.
On a different flank, we saw the response the Management of University of Calabar gave with the breakdown of charges. They are using breakdown to justify the hostile hikes about increase in school fees without looking at subventions and other funding sources. They are placing the entire burden on students’ shoulders alone with the unjustifiable evil of acceptance fees and all manner of invented charges to feed the greed of management which weren’t even captured in the water down breakdown in the media web.
This inflationary practice is both evil and sad, what the hell are all these needless repeated charges like biometric for? students are charged for same biometric yearly, they are expected to be doing such every year and paying for same as though their finger prints get changed annually or what is the extortionist justification about the duplication of ICT infrastructure payment yearly along with development levy of close to N18,000 for freshers, yet they will still pay N13,500 yearly afterwards for both items?
If we are to look at the collective charges leveled against each student and total it on the basis of 44,999 students in Unical ( that is 44,999 students multiply by an average fees of N47,350 and 62,850) which is 44,999 x N78,775 which equals 3.54Billion annually, which is almost twice the monthly allocation of Federal Government Allocations to Cross River State as a whole, not mentioning other streams of revenues from subventions, transcript processing, hostel rentals, shops and premises charges, etc.
To be honest, it is time we call for a probe and audit the institution financial books like we did in NDDC.
In respect to the publication of the Student Union Government, it is sad to say the least without they interrogating and objecting to some yearly duplications. For instance why insist that science students must buy lab coats from the school and still buy it yearly with same included into their school fees without option to buy elsewhere especially those who can sew theirs by themselves? Why the repeated yearly biometric charges after the first one in year one? Why the commodification and commercialization of these items?
To be frank, nobody expects an SUG that met N1,000 student dues and shifted it to N1,500 to defend the interests of their fellow students. And when you look at the subhead of Students’ Welfare Insurance that the same SUG shifted from N1000 to N2000 and yet defended, one can clearly see where exactly this SUG stands_ to defend all burdens on students’ shoulders.
With the huge number of students in Unical multiply by those amount of money_ we are seeing over N200million Naira in SUG account, how well can they justify this money in student representation and interest defence?
Sadly enough, from all indications, the Student Union has been an handpick brigade by the school authority doing yes Management PRO Job. After all, since the SUG grabs students’ dues, they go home with millions of nairas_ enough to cover their school capital requirements while other students outside government suffers.
From the foregoing, the students should give the Student Union and Management one week ultimatum, if they fail to retrace their steps and revert to old fees/charges, the students should simply lead zero class attendance peaceful protest, declare suspension of payment of school fee for the now and demand the resignations of all persons standing against rational and human policies that seek to foist other students from disadvantaged homes from dropping out of school or furthering their education due to the unconscionable increases in extant charges.
As we call for audit, we reiterate that Unical has enough to fund itself, SAY NO TO VC-SUG led hikes in fees.
Richard F INOYO,
Citizens’ Solution Network.