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UNIZIK SUG past presidents wade into fee increase controversies



THE council of past presidents of Students Union Government (SUG) of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, has waded into the raging  controversies surrounding fees increase in their Alma mater. The representatives of the umbrella body of all the elected past SUG presidents led by its chairman, Comrade Patrick Afubera, met with the Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof Charles Esimone and other members of the university management, including the D-VC administration, Prof. Carol Umobi, Registrar, Representative of the bursar and the Dean of Students Affairs.

The chairman of the council, Comrade Afubera informed the university management that the former student leaders were concerned with the negative publicity the rumours over the alleged increase in fees was giving the university especially in the social media and felt it wise as critical stakeholders to wade into the controversies. Comrade Afubera said the council was in the university to  seek a firsthand information on the alleged fees increase so that they can contribute their own quota to ensure peace and stability in the great citadel of excellence.

The Vice Chancellor took time to explain the real situation to the august visitors. According to the Vice Chancellor, the university management set up a committee for School Fees Reforms to determine the propriety or otherwise of increasing fees in the university based on the current economic realities in the country vis a vis the cost of training a student in the university. He informed the council that the committee, which was headed by the DVC Administration , Prof Carol Umobi in its report, stated that there was need for increase in fees for the university to effectively function. He however stated categorically that there was no increment in the school fees (otherwise called Development levy) which still remained at about N20,000. The proposed increase according to the UNIZIK chief executive, was in acceptance fee for new students, accreditation levy for all the students and  convocation levy for final year students. He explained that the increment became necessary to enable the university bear the cost of putting infrastructure in place to meet up with the requirements of the periodic accreditation exercise by the National University Commission (NUC) and other professional bodies for its about 52 departments.

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He lamented that the university now bore the cost of accreditation 100% without any assistance from the government. He said the convocation levy was for only students in their final year to ensure automated clearance for the students upon graduation. He further stated that the university was going to use part of the money realised from the increase to build a world class ICT hub in collaboration with Google, standard sporting pitches, classrooms fully equipped with modern communication facilities to mention but a few.

He said that students would be able to log into the internet through a central WIFI once they paid their fees to facilitate access to e-libraries and other digital information since the world is now a global village. All these, according to him, were in line with his vision of “project 200” which seeks to place UNIZIK among the first 200 universities worldwide.

In her contribution, the DVC administration, Prof Carol Umobi clarified that her committee did not arrive at the recommendations unilaterally but after wide consultations with the academic and non academic staff, leaders of students’ union, faculty, departmental bodies and other relevant stakeholders.

The legal luminary stated that her committee made concessions to the students’ representatives in the proposed fees increase and that all the fees including those for student bodies would all be paid into the TSA account with the Central Bank of Nigeria in line with the federal government policy. The monies would thereafter be remitted to the various associations and concerned bodies.

The Dean of Students Affairs informed the presidential council that the university was reconstructing the school hostels to provide for toilet and bathrooms in every room so that both the old and new students would have comfortable accommodation when school resumes.

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In his remarks, the leader of the council of past presidents, Prof Dennis Aribodor, who is the immediate past Chairman of ASUU UNIZIK thanked the vice chancellor and members of the university management for granting audience to the visiting past presidents. He said the VC was living up to his promise of running an open door administration. He commended the vice chancellor for taking off on a good note in administration of the university.  He reiterated the readiness of the council to continue to partner with the university to ensure the attainment of her set goals.

The secretary of the council, Comrade Chigozie C.C Onwuanyi commended the vice chancellor for the lofty projects he is embarking upon to make UNIZIK a world class university especially the proposed students ICT hub to be developed by Google. He requested the university management to attach the fees to specific projects so that the council and other critical stakeholders would be able to assess the effective utilisation of the fees in the nearest future. He however, advised the university management to close up the gap in its information dissemination machinery which had given rise to the public being fed with contradictory information and disinformation in the social media.

Earlier, the Chairman of the presidential council, Comrade Afubera had expreessed the condolences of the past presidents to the university community over the loss of its Pro Chancellor and Chairman of Governing Council, Alhaji Azeez Oladotun Bello.

Comrades Eze Primacy, ThankGod Aniagor, Ikenna Igwebuike and other past presidents in the high powered delegation took turns to appreciate the new vice chancellor and members of the university management for pledging to further consult on the proposed increase and appealed to them to make the new fees have a human face that would not weigh down parents and sponsors.

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They called on well meaning philanthropists, including Alhaji Aliko Dangote who has been supporting some other universities to come to the aid of the university named after the foremost nationalist, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe to help her meet up with her protects and lofty goals set by Prof. Charles Esimone’s administration and for the university to move with the tides of the times.

They called on students of the university through the incumbent students union president, Comrade Joseph Okafor (who was present at the interactive meeting) to remain calm and maintain peace on campus so that the university will continue rise to enviabe heights and maintain uninterrupted academic calendar.

They remarked that from the explanations given by the vice chancellor and members of the university management,   there was wide consultation and holistic consideration so that the fees increase would be in the interests of the students to facilitate learning and production of graduates that will not only be employable in Nigeria but capable of competing with graduates of other world class universities globally.

They also promised to liaise further with the university management and student bodies to ensure that the final fees to be arrived at will be affordable to parents and students.

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