Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM


No One Deserves to Die Because they Want to Earn a Degree

For the Reversal of hiked fees at the University of Abuja and Adequate Funding of Public education!

The attention of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) has been drawn to the predicament of Ada Amazu, a final year student of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Abuja (Uniabuja), who has become suicidal after she was asked to repeat an academic session for failing to pay up her tuition fees, due to a recent hike from N71, 000 to N196, 000, before the closure of registration.

Although Amazu was not the only one affected as there are many others like her, nevertheless her case highlights the tragic consequence of the government policy of education commercialization and its manifestation in soaring education cost. Since Tuesday February 27 2024, Amazu has been threatening to commit suicide prompting the ERC to raise a public alarm on Wednesday February 28, 2024. We do not believe any one deserves to die because they want to earn a degree. This is why we want to implore the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Abdul Rasheed Na’Allah, not to have blood on his hands. We hereby call on him as well as the Senate of the University to do everything required to ensure that Amazu graduates from the University as she has already completed all academic requirements for graduation including examinations and final year projects.

Ada Amazu is an indigent 51 year old female undergraduate who gained admission into the University of Abuja through a church scholarship. Her tuition fees was N36, 000 when she gained admission and this used to be paid by the Church but by the time she got to 500 level, the fees had increased to N71, 000. By this time, she had lost the scholarship after the pastor who initiated the programme was transferred from the church. While most of her colleagues who gained admission through the scholarship programme dropped out, Ada soldiered on by doing anything she could to raise the money on her own. However, one academic session later and this time her final year, her tuition was hiked again to N196, 000. This was two astronomical fee hikes within a space of two years!

Unfortunately the Uniabuja Students Union leadership failed to raise a finger against the fee hike. Only two Student Union officials, the Director of Socials, Cyprian Igwe and the Director of Sports, Oladeru Samson Olamilekan, were courageous enough to speak out against the policy and when they did, they were summarily rusticated by the Prof. Na’Allah-led University administration without the benefit of a chance at defending themselves. Prof. Na’Allah is renowned for being ruthless and clamping down on dissent opinion. Not surprising that the University authorities has continued to uphold the illegal rustication of the two union leaders in violation of a directive of the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions.

The above was the background to Ada’s predicament who obviously is too poor to afford the new fees. By the time she was able to raise the new fees, the portal had been closed. Distraught, she immediately wrote to the Vice Chancellor appealing for mercy and when this failed, she also wrote to the Ministry of Education begging for their intervention. Of course, nothing was done to help her. As far as the authorities were concerned, she could either repeat the class or drop out. Only the Dean of her faculty took pity on her and allowed her to write her final year examinations and also complete her projects in the hope that at some point, her appeal for her portal to be opened would get a listening ear. But unfortunately this has not been the case. Instead, the University’s Vice Chancellor, Prof. Abdul Rasheed Na’Allah vowed that she must repeat the academic session and also pay two tranches of fees for the academic session she failed to register and the new one she has to repeat. This was the last straw that plunged her into depression and consequently made her to become suicidal.

As far as we are concerned, we consider it an act of callousness to increase schools fees by over 300 percent within a space of two years and still punish students who are unable to meet up with the payment. Amazu’s predicament shows that the fee hike being forced on students in Uniabuja and other public tertiary institutions are too exorbitant. To this extent, we demand immediate reversal of the hiked fees. We also call for reversal of fees in all campuses across the country, an end to the anti-poor policy of education commercialization and for adequate funding of public education.

Sadly, despite the raging storm of fee hike, the leadership of the National Association of Nigerian (NANS) and many students unions have largely refused to raise a finger. Where there has been any resistance at all, usually the official union leaders are not involved and where they are, all they do is put up a tokenistic resistance without showing any real desire to end the crisis. Instead of fighting hard, the official leadership of the students movement has been investing hope and illusion in the President Tinubu students loan.

However as we have amply demonstrated, the students loan is a scam as it cannot help indigent students like Ada Amazu. This is because apart from the onerous conditionalities, many undergraduate students face the prospect of being plunged into lifelong indebtedness especially given the neo-colonial capitalist character of Nigeria’s economy where decent jobs are hard to come by.

Conclusively, the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) calls on students and education workers to begin to campaign for reversal of the increased fees. We also use this opportunity to call for the reinstatement of comrades Sunday and Igwe who raised their voice again this callous increment in fees last year when the Uniabuja management carried it out.

Isaac Ogunjimi

Deputy National Coordinator

Adaramoye Michael Lenin

National Mobilization Officer

E-mail:  [email protected]