ATBU Fees Must Fall
The authorities of the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU) Bauchi have hiked fees for both fresh and returning students. According to the decision of the 81st meeting of the Institution’s Governing Council, fresh students will now pay N44, 250 while returning students would pay N39, 520. Both represent over 100 percent increment. Last academic session, fresh students paid N22, 500 while returning students paid N14, 500.
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) strongly condemns this new hike and demands immediate reversal. By hiking fees beyond the national minimum wage which still stands at a pitiful N18, 000, the ATBU authorities want to exclude students from poor working class background from getting a University degree.
Worthy to note is that previous increment of fees in the 2012/2013 academic session has had no fundamental impact on teaching and learning conditions in the University. The learning environment remains deplorable. The institution still lack access to modern libraries and laboratories while water supply and other infrastructures are inadequate. Students still have no access to internet and sport facilities even though they pay for them.
Whatever arguments the University may have, another fee hike is simply unacceptable. If the University authorities feel the need for the funding going to the University to be increased, it should make a formal representation in this respect to the funding authorities which is the federal government. The ERC rejects in its entirety the ridiculous argument that due to underfunding, University authorities have no choice but to increase fees. What this argument boils down to is that since the government is not doing its duties then students and their poor parents should bear the burden of funding education.
Education is not a business for the making of profit. Neither is it a privilege to be enjoyed by a few who have the means. Education is a social responsibility of the government to the citizens. When people are educated, the benefit goes not to the individual alone but to the whole of society.
Despite economic crisis, Nigeria still earns a lot from crude oil sale and other sources. It is our strong belief in the ERC that if the government is willing, these resources are still enough for adequate investment to be made in the area of education such that not only would there be no need to increase fees, it would be possible to cancel all fees.
We call on the ATBU authorities to reverse this anti-poor decision immediately.
We call on students of the institution to organize a series of mass actions including peaceful protests and mass sensitization of the public in order to defeat the fee hike. We urge on the staff unions on the campus to join students in the struggle
Hassan Taiwo Soweto Michael Ogundele
National Coordinator (07033697259) National Secretary