The Nigerian Association of Students (NANS) has given Rotimi Akeredolu, the Governor of Ondo State an ultimatum of 24 hours to reverse the increment of school fees in state owned tertiary institutions.
Backstory: In 2018, the state government increased the tuition fees of four state-owned tertiary institutions: Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba (AAUA); Ondo State University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa (OSUSTECH); Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo and Ondo State School of Nursing, Akure.
Why it matters: Since 1999, public education in Ondo State has been free at primary and secondary levels, while fees in tertiary institutions has remained fairly inexpensive. (Students paid tuition fees averaging between N63,000 to N70,000). This increment in the tuition fees has been received poorly by the people.
Governor Akeredolu’s defence: During the inauguration of the boards last year, Akeredolu said that the tuition paid by the students in these schools were meager and was not enough to maintain the schools.
What NANS is saying: Danielson Bamidele, the NANS president, expressed his displeasure, describing the governor’s action as a display of insensitivity and arrogance.
- “Gov. Akeredolu should please help our students, who do not have hope to be educated as a matter of urgency, he should revise all the school fees of the state’s higher institutions to the initial fees.”
- “We are giving him 24 hours ultimatum to do that because we are not ready to fight him but to yield to the yearnings of the students and their parents.”
Divided Opinion: While the NANS president wants the people of Ondo to protest the Governor’s decision, the president of a local student union, the National Association of Ondo State Students (NAOSS) appears to be in support of the Governor’s decision. He alleged that the NANS president was seeking “personal glorification” and not necessarily fighting for the interest of the students.
Bottomline: Governor Akeredolu is right about the fact that tertiary institutions cannot thrive on government funding alone and that fees were probably meagre to make any significant improvement in the quality of learning and instruction. However, given the poor economic condition of most citizens expected to pay for the services, the Governor should try to figure out other innovative measures to plug this gap or alleviate the burden of the students.