By Emeke Alexander
Vice-Chancellor of the Delta State University, Abraka, Prof Andy Ogochukwu Egwunyenga, has recently been in the news following a hike in school fees by the institution.
Joining Delsu, Abraka in the school fees hike NewsNet Nigeria gathered is the Delta State University of Science and Technology (DSUST), Ozoro.
For this reason, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) a week ago issued a 48-hour notice for the reversal of the increase which the apex students’ body in Nigeria termed as “reckless and insensitive”.
Following the expiration of the notice, NANS Zone B covering South-East and South-South has disclosed plans to occupy the state’s Government House in Asaba.
Deputy Coordinator, NANS Zone B, Comrade Oghale Emeka Rex, in a statement on Wednesday, February 16, 2022, said: “Following the expiration of our ultimatum to the management of DELSU and DELSUSTH and we are yet to hear from them before we take to the streets fully as adequate preparation is on ground to that effect please let’s start our demand first by occupying the phone numbers of those who sat and made the drastic decision without consideration of the students.
“Currently we’re on our way to Sokoto for the National Congress of NANS and upon our return to Delta state, we shall take over the streets of Delta if they’re yet to attend to this issue. They have enough time to do the needful before our return.”
Despite the threat by NANS, Delsu VC, Prof Egwunyenga appears unperturbed as he has insisted that “the economic realities in Nigeria made the hike in school fees inevitable, saying that it was an adjustment for only 100 Level students.”
The VC during an exclusive chat with Oasis Magazine on Saturday in Abraka, “The slight increase; I still continue to call it slight because compared to other institutions it is not that high but as a result of the state of the economy. If you are seeing the situation of the country, oil economy has almost collapsed and of course, you know that is the main revenue of funding in the state. So the kind of money that comes from allocation has dwindled and it has affected the level of support not only to the university but other areas. So there is a general economic decline and it is important that we should be very honest with ourselves and our students. We did the analysis and felt that to keep the university running, there is a minimum level of increase that we must do so that academic Infrastructure and physical Infrastructure in the classrooms, laboratory, workshops, communication, hostel and many other services can get better or can at least Improve.
“Anybody who has been in Delta State University for the past 2 years will see clearly that we’ve been raising the bar with respect to academic and physical Infrastructure which is clearly reflected in the increased ranking of the university.
“Nobody likes to increase school fees. I know the burden because I am a parent myself. I have not less than 10 persons I assist to keep them in the university. So, it is everybody that is affected, but we have to get our priorities right.”
Notwithstanding the justifications for the Delsu school fees hike, Prof Egwunyenga has received serious backlash, especially from parents of students of the institution.
While making a comparison between the current DELSU administration and the tenure of Prof Peter Peretomode as Vice-Chancellor, when school fees hovered between 60 to 69 thousand naira, even at a time when the country was experiencing an all-time worst recession and lowest crude oil revenue, most parents in a chat with NewsNet Nigeria on condition of anonymity wondered the rationale behind the administration Prof Egwunyenga raising the school fees up One Hundred and Fifty-five Thousand naira for old students.
“If 100Level students of the University of Benin are paying Sixty-nine Thousand naira while 200Level and above are paying Forty-one, Four Hundred naira, why should that of Delta State Universities be astronomically higher,” the parents lamented.
Continuing, the parents aligned with NANS to described the Delsu school fees hike as “reckless and insensitive even at a time crude oil revenue has improved”.
According to them, “The list of school fees has #5,000 for Delsu app which no one has seen or accessed. Even the internet wifi which is pegged and#5,000 could hardly be accessed, especially those in Oleh, Warri and Oghara. Despite all these unreasonable charges, another fee of #4,000 was coined as infotech.
“The new school fees schedule for old students has an identity card, result verification, university policy manual which had been paid for in 100 Level. Why they should resurface in the fees list again?
“What’s #2,000 for insurance premium and #3,000 for First-aid for, after pegging health services fee at #4,000? This is very unreasonable of the current DELSU administration.
“Just because students from Asaba were moved to Abraka, this same insensitive fellow hiked accommodation fees from#50,000. He pegged it last year to #76,000 for bed space with 4 to 10 students in a room.
“With other nonsense attachment fees. If off-campus land Lords are insensitive, should Delsu management lose caution and increase fees for existing accommodations? There are parents who are not working, some with salary as low as #30,000 and some, peasant farmers.”
The parents have also expressed serious concern and are even more worried about the mute posture of the state government on the matter which according to them lends credence to the speculation that it plans to hands-off funding of the state-owned universities.
As it stands, NANS has affirmed its resolve to ensure the reversal of the hike in school fees across Delta State-owned universities. It is expected that the administration of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and other relevant stakeholders will take steps to arrive at amicable solutions that will be reasonable to the students’ parents who bear the brunt of paying the school fees.