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General News of Saturday, 18 November 2023


Don’t believe ‘audio promises’ by President Tinubu – Nigerian students caution ASUU

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU president President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU president

Nigerian students under the aegis of a civil rights movement, Students Solidarity Group Against Fee Hike, have said that it does not believe the purported cancellation of 40 percent Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) from Universities that the President Bola Tinubu-led administration earlier directed universities to remit to the Federation Account.

The students said that the announcement remained fake until school fees had fallen through to what Nigerians could afford to pay. It noted that the purported cancellation could be just a smokescreen for a more disastrous policy to be introduced.

Calling on students and education labour unions, especially the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to be vigilant and demand that the announcement should not be enough, and demand an official correspondence to that effect and fees reverted to status quo.

The Solidarity Group which stated this in statement on Saturday, signed by Oyelumade Oluwakemi for the Secretariat demanded an end to the commercialisation of education in Nigeria.

The statement partly read: "Our attention at the Students’ Solidarity Group Against Fee Hike has been brought to the news making rounds that the Tinubu regime has cancelled its thoughtless 40 percent IGR remittance order, it issued to Universities, one of the “partially funded” agencies of Government.

"We had received the news with a pinch of salt, until it was confirmed by respected members of ASUU.

“We want to first of all salute the resistance pulled by students, ASUU and concerned Nigerians. It goes to show that if we are united against a wicked policy such as commercialization of education, it won’t stand the next minute.

"However, we have our doubts over the sincerity of the government on this particular announcement. We have every reason to doubt the sincerity of the Tinubu regime because the same government while wickedly removing subsidy promised that the money saved from the removal will be used to fund education and infrastructure adequately.

"This was issued by the Presidency and it even went ahead to tell Nigerians that billions have been saved in just two months, only for the same government to remove education subsidy; increase fees by over 300-500 percent across our schools. Unity schools were not spared from the dagger of this anti-poor regime."

Titled: "IGR Cancellation: Government Of Many “Audio” Promises," the students group stated that "The promise to fund education was turned to defunding," querying what are the subsidy savings used for. "Our guess is as good as other Nigerians’. These monies were saved to buy SUVs and presidential yacht."

"In the flow of events, as we started the #FeesMustFall campaign as a response to the subsidy removal in education, the Presidency was forced to respond twice and in one of the responses, the President ordered that “arbitrary increment of fees be halted”.

"Till today, instead of any halt to be experienced, thousands of students are dropping out as more increments are sweeping them out of our schools.

"It is then safe to say that the order of the President does not hold water or it was just a ruse to deceive people as usual. Two strong lies in the space of one month. After increasing fees, the government now ordered that the increased fees be sent to their pockets; fleecing the poor people of Nigeria of their meager resources to fund lavish lifestyle. UNILAG students for example, can’t find decent bed spaces to lay their heads on but Tinubu and his colleagues spent 500,000 dollars to sleep in a hotel while on “official visit” to and when we speak, we are told to tighten our belts to endure suffering.

"Nigerians are told to tighten their belts while their rulers loosen theirs to eat."

"The above are some of the reasons we have to doubt that the announcement of cancellation this time is real. We believe that it is just a smokescreen for a more disastrous policy to be introduced.

"We hereby call on all students and education labour unions, especially ASUU to be vigilant and demand that it is not enough to announce the cancellation, rather an official correspondence must follow and fees must be reverted to status quo ante, so that students are not reduced to customers.

"We demand an end to the commercialisation of education in Nigeria. Cancellation of IGR is not enough until fees fall and our Universities are properly funded as promised."