Emmanuel Osodeke, the National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, has revealed how the union rejected the Federal Government’s idea to raise school tuition for all university students to N1 million during recent negotiations.
He said the government’s aim was to form an education bank and provide each student a loan of N1 million per year at a 5% interest rate to help them pay for school, which they would repay once they graduated and began working.
This was expressed by Osodeke while responding to questions from participants at a one-day “state of the nation summit” organized by the Bauchi zone of the union for ASUU members.
“The first thing they told us at the last discussion was that we should negotiate for our allowances and salaries,” he said, “but we said no, let’s talk about funding first.” We can negotiate salary after we know how much you’re going to pay. They went, though reluctantly.
“Then they raised another issue, which was the basis for the four-year delay: students must pay N1 million in annual school fees; the government declared 70% would go to the university and 30% would go to the student.
“When we questioned them where and how the students would get the money, they assured us that we don’t have to worry. They stated that they would build an education bank where students would go and receive N1 million each year.
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“And by the time you are graduating, you would have been owing N5m or N6m. If it takes you 20 years to get a job, that five per cent interest on that loan would be building.
“We said we will never allow that, and that was why we went on strike and we delayed in calling off the strike.
“If we had accepted that students pay N1m as school fees, they would have increased our pay easily and who would the public and the students blame? It is ASUU.”
People would have accused them of fighting for their own interests rather than the collective benefit of Nigerians if they had accepted the offer, Osodeke Said.