By Luminous Jannamike, ABUJA
The Coalition of Northern Groups, CNG, yesterday condemned the arbitrary hike in tuition fees of schools of higher learning across the Northern states, threatening to mobilise students in the region to resist it.
Briefing journalists in Abuja at the end of its stakeholders meeting, the national coordinator of CNG’s Student Wing, Jamilu Charanchi, said the increase in tuition fees would increase the suffering of the people, especially in the North.
He argued that the trend where federal institutions such as Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi in the Northeast and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in the Northwest.
He said they recorded over 100 percent increase and state government-owned IBB University in the Northcentral had over 60 percent increase in the cost of tuition was worrisome.
According to him, “We condemn in the strongest terms, the hike in tuition fees as an untimely, immoral, unconscionable, height of insensitivity and unacceptable attempt to deny the children of the poor access to affordable education, entrench class dichotomy and widen the gap between the rich and the poor.
“It is unfortunate that people in government today who are major beneficiaries of the magnanimity and foresight of past Nigerian leaders in the provision of quality, accessible, readily available and affordable education are today the same people working to deprive other generations of the same privileges.
“Currently, it is predicted that more girls will drop out of school following the current economic hardship, unemployment, poverty and insecurity which is crippling most of the commercial activities particularly in Northern Nigeria.
“It is worrisome that this is coming at a time when promoting girls’ education is on the front burner of global discourse, especially in developing countries.
“Therefore, this singular act (tuition fee hike) has not showcased government’s responsiveness towards promoting inclusive education.
“This is disheartening to all well meaning Nigerians and we urge the governments to reconsider and rescind their decision.
“It is also ridiculous that the increase in school fees is coming at a time when the country’s developmental indices and figures are not friendly, a country with an unemployment rate of about 33.2 percent inflation rate of about 15 percent exchange rate of over 400 Naira (Government Regulated Rate).
“So, such increase in cost of education in a country in which most of its citizens are living below the poverty line would have negative implications for human capital development.
“If the fee hike is not reviewed downward, it might force many students to drop out of school and increase social vices, as students might be compelled to survive by all means.
“We, therefore, urge the governments at all levels to revert to the old fee to enable students from poor and marginalised families to access tertiary education and break the chain of poverty.
“While we appeal to the students to be law abiding and not to take the law into their hands in the quest to seek reversal of the fee increase, we equally pray the government to listen to the cries of innocent Nigerian students within three weeks so we can avoid speaking in a language that the government understands best.
“All State Coordinators should be on alert for further directives from the National Secretariat.”