From Jibrin Miachi, Kaduna
A concerned citizen of Kaduna State, Shuabu Idris Miqatii, has appealed to Governor Nasiru el-Ruffai to temper justice with mercy and review downward the increased School fees in the state owned higher institutions, particularly Kaduna State University (KASU),
Migati made the plea in a press statement where he reminded effects of both the Covid-19 pandemic and the continued insecurity in the state on the economic lives of the people who are predominantly farmers and traders, to take a second look at the fee increase in favour of the helpless students.
It would be recalled that Kaduna state government had over a month or thereabout announced increase of fees in its various higher institutions, a decision the students viewed as an attempt to send them packing, stressing they cannot pay.
To this end, they have through their student union government pleaded with Governor elRufai to reconsider his administrative decision without positive response.
Thus therefore, the poor students decided to embark on peaceful protests which had taken them to notable places including the State House, venue of the just concluded Public Hearing on the expected Review of 1999 Constitution. .
Arguing in favor of the students, Migati said “Citizens of the world are just coming out of the economic meltdown occasioned by the vagaries of the Covid-19 pandemic as a result of which Nigeria’s economy went into recession” just as.”Our State has been sadly ravaged by bandits and killer herdsmen activities.
“The source of livelihood of the citizens, which is majorly from farming in recent years is badly affected due to the incessant security challenges, kidnapping for ransom, armed robbery, cattle rustling and thefts have been all-time high”, he regrettably pointed out.
Speaking further, he lamented that “trading, which was another major source of income to many has been badly affected either through payment of ransoms, which depletes the capital of traders”.
Another area of setback recorded by the poor traders identified included “the urban renewal projects of the state capital and major towns, which have resulted in the demolition of several markets, corner shops and other places of businesses by the government without appropriate alternatives.
“With the above-mentioned scenario”, he argued “one would have expected that the State Government would temper justice with mercy and delay the impending increase of the fees to a later date to assist parents most of whom either have fallen victims to the recent right sizing exercises by the government, lost their businesses from the modernization project of the capital city, or have paid through the nose huge sums as ransom to kidnappers and or the economic crisis occasioned by Covid-19 pandemic.
“Indeed, some of these parents have become vulnerable and highly indebted with many already adjudged to have gone bankrupt.
‘As a parent myself with children and wards in various schools, I feel the pains of parents and guardians in our state who have children in schools currently, affected by the economic hardship and the high cost of living in our society, and now burdened with ill-timed school fees increase”, Migati confessed.
However, he said one may not fault the desire or the rationale for the increase in the fees, noting that “Two or Three Hundred thousand naira may seem too insignificant for those who depend on the government or work in the private sector but these amounts are huge sums of money for most of the vulnerable citizens in our society.
According to him “increases or review of fees by whatever name is not new at all but massive or one-off increase at a time is the issue, more so looking at the current environment as stated earlier.
“As always, it would be most unfair not to see reasons with the government’s actions but the scale of the increase needs to be reviewed urgently particularly in the light of our current challenges”.
Thus therefore, “the Governor of our dear state should have listening ears and see reasons to adopt a gradualist approach to the increase in the fees” stressing “such action would engender trust and confidence by those being governed” as against massive increase which he feared “will exacerbate the already difficult and precarious situation we are in today”.
. Akin to one blow seven die!, Migati further feared “many children may drop out of schools as they may not be able to register to continue with their studies and the consequences of such unpalatable development may further worsen our already terrible security condition and poverty level’..
In the light of the foregoing, Migati appealed to the Governor to “kindly in the name God Almighty and with empathy to our teeming vulnerable citizens, to see reasons to review the position of government and suggested: gradual increase in the fees over a period to ease the suffering of students and their parents.
“Government should consider immediate implementation of a workable student’s loans scheme which can augment parents’ efforts and serve as alternative source of funds for the school fees of our children”.
Such scheme, he opined “will prevent children from dropping out of schools arising from this neo-liberal attitude at a time the government has not developed any recovery plan from the economic meltdown.
Furthermore, “just as the school fees are being increased, the government should immediately review and announce new amounts to be given to students as Scholarship Grants to serve as usual government’s token contribution to low-income families.
“Government should also look into other avenues to allow the schools to generate more revenues and improve the processes of the schools accessing their Internally Generated Revenues (IGR) on a generate-and-spent basis”..
Similarly ,Migati called on well-meaning people and organizations to help “augment government efforts by donating funds to the schools, commencement of endowments schemes and providing scholarships to students” noting that “our society would be better with such gestures”
Meanwhile, Shuaibu Idris Migati has appealed to the protesting students to get off the street, assuring that the Governor will see reasons to review his position on the school, as according to him, “other well meaning members of the society are also reaching out to him on this matter. You are the future! As such we want you alive, healthy and educated”.