Stories by Dayo Adesulu

SENATE President of the  National Association of Polytechnic Students, NAPS, Comrade Adekanbi Sunday, has condemned the Minister of State for Education for cutting out polytechnic institutions in the proposed abolition of tuition fees in tertiary institutions.

On May 9, 2018, the Minister of State for Education, Professor Anthony Anwuka, while briefing State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting disclosed that no federal university shall henceforth charge tuition fees, declaring such as illegal.

Comrade Adekanbi lamented that while the move was a welcome initiative, it, however, omitted the polytechnic sector. In  an exclusive chat with Vanguard, Adekanbi said: “In the abolition of tuition fees for federal universities, no mention was made or consideration given to polytechnic institutions.”

Abolition of tuition fees

According to him, NAPS being an umbrella body for all polytechnics, monotechnics, colleges of technology and other allied institutions awarding ND and HND across the six geo-political zones of the federation, condemns such acts of insensitivity and discrimination especially at a time when endeavours to address these issues are currently yielding results.

He said: “Currently, students in various polytechnics wince under the burden of extortionate tuition and other charges without recourse to the prevailing hardship in the country. The percentage of indigent students has increased geometrically as parents are either owed salaries or experience setbacks in business. Therefore, we call on the Federal Government to embrace the path of equity and effect immediate eradication of tuition fees along with other obnoxious charges making education expensive and difficult in Nigeria.

“It is noteworthy that discrimination against Polytechnic education in Nigeria is the bane of technical development at the expense of the abundant potentials and propensity inherent in the sector. Having seen the abolition of tuition fee in federal universities, excluding polytechnics as a clear marginalisation of the polytechnic students, the leadership of NAPS hereby demands for immediate extension of the removal of tuition fee policy to all federal owned tertiary institutions awarding ND and HND respectively on or before the next seven working days or consider the streets massively flooded in protest to completely shut down the ministry.”

Speaking in the same vein, Amb Salahudeen Lukman, NANS presidential aspirant, Kwara State University said: “Tuition fee abolition in Nigerian universities would be a blank check for universities to extort students.  I keep ruminating over the recent policy of official abolition of tuition fees in our universities as pronounced by the Federal Executive Council. Much as I want to accept it as a relief on the side of Nigerian students and our struggling parents, I remember the inconsistency of the Nigerian Government in policy implementation and monitoring, just like the case of official peg of N2000 for post-JAMB examination, declaration of acceptance fee as illegal etc were  never implemented by the chief executives in institutions of higher learning and there was no punishment for culprits.

“It occurs to me that this pronouncement may equally increase the tendency of our vice-chancellors to review other administrative and service charges payable by students arbitrarily, hence I call on the Federal Government to put in place a mechanism to checkmate implementation, compliance and monitoring of policies especially those that have to do directly with students. NANS  and academic staff unions can be of great help in this area.”

According to him, government must be sincere in its bid to make education more affordable by stopping the usual trick of charging governing council and management authority to devise means of boosting their Internally Generated Revenue; rather, government should increase the subventions to all tertiary institutions.

Lukman urged management to think above jacking up fees payable by students as the only means of increasing IGR, adding that we must all be innovative as stakeholders in the sector. “Celebrating JAMB’s huge annual remittances into government coffers is as if we are celebrating extortion of innocent poor Nigerians by government agency. Must we rob Peter to pay Paul?” he asked.

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