Insist students’ loan can’t solve fee payment


By Gabriel Dike

• R-L: Ibeh, Taiwo, ERC national coordinator, Prof. Adelaja Odukoya and Adesina Arikawe, ASUU representaives at the event


The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) and some stakeholders have revealed that the proposed Students Loan by the current administration would not solve the problem of recent fee hikes in tertiary institutions.

At a symposium held in Lagos recently, the National Coordinator of ERC, Comrade Taiwo Hassan said the recent fee hikes in various institutions would lead to mass drop out of students.

Hassan said ERC used the symposium as an avenue to interrogate the crisis plaguing public education in Nigeria and proffered constructive, effective and pro-people solutions.

He argued: “Since last year, public tertiary institutions in Nigeria have been hit by a wave of fee hike, which is threatening the future of thousands of undergraduate students and youth.

“Sadly, the only response of the President Bola Tinubu administration to this state of affairs was to institute students loan policy instead of addressing the root cause of the crisis which is education under-funding.”

According to him, the ERC interrogated the students loan policy and found it to be a scam, noting, “our findings which has been published in several newspapers and a new pamphlet titled “Ten Reasons Why Tinubu Students Loan is a Scam” proves that the policy is incapable of addressing the crisis of soaring cost of education confronting thousands of university students at the moment and that if nothing is urgently done to arrest the increasing cost of education, mass drop out imminent.

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He further stressed: “This is why, we have taken it upon ourselves to organise this national conversation whose aim is to bring together stakeholders in the education sector particularly students unions, radical students groups, NANS, staff unions and civil society organizations to discuss what needs to be done to build a nationwide mass resistance involving lecture boycotts and mass protests on campuses to challenge the status quo.”

The coordinator explained that the meeting afforded the gathering the opportunity to gauge the condition of the students movement and what needs to be done to rebuild and rearm the movement ideologically and politically in order for it to be able to face up to the challenges of the moment.

Representative of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) told the gathering that in other countries, public education is accorded top priority and that in Nigeria, it is not so.

‘For years we have continued to struggle to ensure education is given a boost in this country. It is left for the students bodies to take over from where ASUU stopped.”

A student from the College of Nursing, Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital (OAUTH), Ile Ife said nursing students have been at home for over two months because of their opposition to the fee hike by the management.

According to him, newly admitted students would pay close to a million including the new fee and other nursing tools and that only few parents have paid after taking a loan or sold their land to pay the school fee.

He revealed that the students body met the Ooni of Ife on the issue, stating, “even the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) wrote the OAUTH management and the letter was rejected.”

“Many students of OAUTH will not complete their courses due to the fee hike. The ERC symposium is an opportunity for Nigerians to hear us and understand our plight. We have been at home for two months now. If the fee increase continues, many students may not be able to complete their university education. Our management told us that next year, there will be another increment and many students will drop out.”

The Policy and Research Officer, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation (CAPPA), Comrade Zikora Ibeh lauded ERC for bringing stakeholders together to brainstorm on public education which, she said is in distress and requires urgent attention.

She disclosed that attempt by the Federal Government to paint ASUU black has failed and the propaganda would not work, adding, ASUU has played to a prominent role in the quest to restore confidence to public education.

On the new students’ loan, Ibeh debunked the insinuation by government that it is only ASUU that is against the policy, noting, ‘it is a lie, I was against it and many students too.”