Nigerian students from the 19 northern states have threatened to launch protests following recent increases in tuition fees at some Nigerian universities.
the punch had exclusively reported how some federal universities across the country announced a 200 percent increase in school fees.
In a statement made available to our correspondent in Abuja by the national coordinator of the coalition of northern groups, Emuseh Gimba, the group said it would take drastic measures if the government fails to reverse the rise.
“We find it unfortunate that, as a result of these poorly designed policies, hunger is stalking millions of homes, inflation is complicating day-to-day life, people are losing jobs, businesses are closing, infrastructure is deteriorating, Nigerian youth are losing hope of Being employed, hospitals are full of people suffering from various diseases and unable to pay the costs.
The SW-CNG expressed concern that what it called “some callous and uncaring authorities at Northern Nigerian universities” had already announced incredible tuition increases. Those that fall into this category, according to the group, are the University of Maiduguri, Dutse Federal University and Lafia Federal University.
“As is the CNG tradition, we took the time to study the situation and assess the inherent dangers that increased tuition would pose to Nigerians and especially to the northern region which has been left to the mercy of banditry and insurgency.
“Specifically, the northern region is currently being hijacked by bandits who operate with ease and will in the seven northwestern states taking full control of land borders, highways, forests, and in some cases railways and airports.
“Boko Haram and ISWAP insurgents continue to wreak havoc in the northeast, while clashes between farmers and herders escalate in the center-north.
“We are convinced, therefore, that this walk and other potentially damaging policies are part of a calculated design to continually weaken the North educationally and impoverish it economically.
“It follows that the North would feel the pain of increased tuition more than other parts of the country due to the current challenges and constraints the region faces around security and unforgettable poverty.
Added to this is the widespread harsh economic reality resulting from the elimination of the electricity subsidy and the subsequent increase in the electricity tariff, aggravated by gasoline shortages and the deliberate and uncontrolled increase in the prices of basic products where and when are available,” observed the students.
Highlighting the consequences of the walk for students and parents, the CNG said that if left unchecked, the action will cause mass desertion and return millions of young people in this region to the streets.
“New students will have to give up their dreams of acquiring a higher education.
“Returning students, still having to overcome the trauma of an eight-month ASUU strike and struggling to bear the frustration of a wasted academic year, resources and energy would find themselves on the receiving end.
“This generation of frustrated youth will become uncontrollably open to all vulnerabilities, temptations, and influences that could ultimately lead to a rise in organized crime, worsen the security situation, and seal the fate of the North permanently.
“The number of college graduates and productive segments of every society will inevitably be drastically reduced and commoners’ trust, hope and faith in the entire education system will be lost with dire consequences.
“It will also translate into a waste of study and employment quotas for the northern region.
“The educational and economic viability of the region would be completely crippled and the region would continue its slide into decadence, inconsistency, irrelevance and general backwardness,” the angry students lamented.
Consequently, the group issued a set of demands for all stakeholders to act to checkmate “this ugly scenario that is unfolding by ensuring an immediate downward revision of increased tuition at Northern universities.”
The group also demanded that the northern elite and all interested parties speak out to reject and discourage the passage of the Education Loan Act as the lifespan and sustainability of the loan were not guaranteed.
“And should the passage of the bill become unavoidable, we demand your urgent intervention to ensure the provision of easy accessibility and soft refund clauses in the bill.
“We also warn the vice rectors of the universities in the region to avoid possible dangers and unforeseen events by ensuring that no student leaves the universities as a result of these increases.
“We call on the northern elite, especially the business community, to support public university education in their domains.
“Finally, we let the Federal Government know that if after this decent plea and persuasion, it does not see the reason, we will take concrete actions that will not prevent the mobilization of massive and sustained protests throughout the region.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we emphatically record that any such protests would be total, involving the indefinite closure of all campuses and the occupation of major highways and state capitals throughout the North,” the students said.