Why Niger legislator joined students’ protest against hike in tuition fee
By Ummi Ismaeel, Minna
Niger State House of Assembly (NSHA) member, representing Agwara Constituency, Hon. Ahmed Bello, yesterday joined students of the state-owned, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida University (IBBU), Lapai, in solidarity to protest against increase in tuition and other payable fees.
Agwara, who is also unhappy that the Legislature ignored the students, who besieged the Hon. Usman Jikantoro House of Assembly, joined the students at the entrance gate of the Assembly complex at about 11am Thursday.
The peaceful protesters, carrying placards with different inscriptions; ‘we do not want to drop out of school, reduce the fees’, ‘affordable education is our right’, ‘no retreat, no surrender’ among others demanded to see the Speaker but was not allowed entry into the complex.
The students however threatened to forcefully shut down the university within 24 hours if their demands of reversing the hike were not met as they insisted on remaining at te entrance gate to ensure that nobody goes in or out of the complex until their demands which include shutting down the registration portal and reduction of the school fees.
Ahmed Bello, who is the Minority Leader of the Assembly, also wore a face cap with IBBU inscription told journalists and passers-by that he was a post-graduate student of the institution and also felt the pains caused by increase in the fee like other students.
He later presented the demands of the protesting students to the Deputy Speaker NSHA, Hon. Jibrin Ndagi, who received the protesting students for onward dispatch to the Speaker, who is said to be out on another assignment.
The House of Assembly Minority leader said that he decided to join the students in solidarity because as a post-graduate student, he also felt the impact of the tuition fees hike and therefore wants the Legislature Assembly to intervene in the overall intsrest of the state.
Ahmed Bello said the State House of Assembly has the powers to address the fees hike and as well, forestall possible impending crisis threatening the peaceful academic environment of the state owned tertiary institution.
Also, representatives of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Comrade Ishaq Madaki and Abdulsalam Abdulganiu, pleaded with the Assembly to intervene in reducing the fees as failure to do will lead to lots of students dropping out of school.
The economic situation is becoming so harsh and unbearable that most parents and guardians are finding it extremely difficult to cope with hence the need for the Legislative arm of government to intervene.
Responding to the demands, the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Jibrin Ndagi assured that they will intervene by calling for a tripartite meeting between the students, school management and the State House of Assembly with a view to finding a comon ground on the issue.
Recall that IBBU, Lapai last month announced over 100 percent increase in tuition fees, but after protests and complaints, the state government waded in by announcing a reduction of the payable fees.
While returning indigene students pay N50, 000 as against N67, 929, new students indigene N95, 675 as against the initial N129, 675 proposed by the management of the state owned university.