The row over the alleged hike in the tuition fees of Kwara State Polytechnic, Ilorin has continued to fester.
The state governor, Abdufatah Ahmed, Senate president, Dr Bukola Saraki and the state House of Assembly have all rather expressed divergent views on the issue.
While the state government, quoting the polytechnic’s management, insisted that there was no increment in the tuition fees, Saraki said from the records available before him the tuition fee had been jacked up by N20,000. The state House of Assembly corroborated the position of the Senate president.
Both Saraki and the state lawmakers had canvassed a reversal of the hike in the polytechnic’s tuition fee.
In spite of the Senate president’s advice and the directive of the state’s legislature, the executive arm of government had only reduced the contentious tuition fees by N5,000,00.
Acting on the complaints from the students of the polytechnic via the social media, the Senate president had advised the state government to prevail on the institution’s management to revert to status quo ante.
Though, the management of the institution insisted that it had not hiked the fees payable by all categories of students, the students staged demonstrations in Ilorin, the state capital alleging outrageous increment in the tuition fees.
Saraki in a statement he personally signed agreed with the students’ position, saying that information at his disposal showed an upward review of the tuition fees by the polytechnic’s management.
The Senate President who appealed to the students and their parents to remain calm, assured them that the state government will revisit the issue.
Saraki’s statement reads:” Just this morning, students from my constituency sent me the details of the school fees that the registrar of the Kwara State Polytechnic released for the 2017/2018 academic session through Whatsapp.
“After reviewing it, I found out that there has been a deliberate attempt to confuse and mislead the state government and the general public.
“It is obvious that a second year student in 2017/18 is now expected to pay N20,000 more than second year students paid in the 2016/17 session. This is contrary to the claim contained in the statement released by the institution just last week.
“With the present economic situation, this increment is unacceptable. I stand by my earlier position that education must be affordable for every willing citizen because it is the bedrock of development. Any increase in the school fees must be stopped now.
“I appeal to all concerned students and their families to remain calm. I am sure that the government will revisit this issue.
“Thank you to all the students who spoke with me on the phone this morning and helped to provide additional insight on this issue.”
Following the intervention of Saraki the state government directed the management of the polytechnic to reduce its tuition fees by N5,000.00.
The state governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed gave the directive via a Facebook post.
The governor, however, insisted that the management of the polytechnic has not only maintained the fees charged in 2016/2017 academic session, but it has also effected a N500 reduction in the fees payable in 2017/2018 academic session.
Ahmed’s statement reads: “In recent days, our government has become aware of complaints by students, parents and stakeholders regarding the alleged increase in Kwara State Polytechnic, Ilorin, fees.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Kwara State Polytechnic has not only maintained the fees charged in the 2016/2017 academic session, it has also effected a N500 reduction in the fees payable in the 2017/2018 session.
“Nevertheless, I have taken serious note of the concerns expressed by stakeholders in the state, including the Senate President, His Excellency, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, about students, guardians and parents’ capability to pay the specified fees.
“Having considered the above and recognizing the current economic challenges facing families in the country, I hereby urge the management of Kwara State Polytechnic to reduce its current fees by N5000.00.
“While thanking those who intervened in this misunderstanding with a view to an amicable solution, the public is hereby invited to note that the Kwara State Polytechnic relies on school fees to meet its obligations to students and staff.”
But dissatisfied with the governor’s decision, the state’s House of Assembly led by Dr Ali Ahmad, a confidant of the Senate president in a resolution asked Governor Ahmed to direct the management of the polytechnic to revert to the old tuition fees in order to allow peace reign in the institution.
The assembly gave the directive after adopting a report of its Committee on Education on the alleged increment of tuition fees at the institution.
The speaker read the resolution of the assembly after the report had been discussed at the committee level.
The assembly condemned what it described as over 100 per cent increment in the institution’s tuition fees.
The lawmakers urged the state governor to direct the management of the polytechnic to refund new school fees paid by any fresh and returning students of the institution.
They advised the management of the polytechnic to always give two sessions notice before increasing school fees and that the students’ Union Government be carried along for peace to reign.
The lawmakers urged the management of the polytechnic not to victimise anybody that participated in the struggle for reduction of school fees.
The row over the polytechnic’s tuition fees, however, got to a head last week when the state legislators suspended further deliberation on the state’s 2018 Budget following the failure of the state government to implement its directive on the issue.
The state’s lawmakers had in its resolution of December 13 asked the state government to direct the management of the Kwara State Polytechnic to revert to old tuition fees.
The assembly in its resolution after adopting the report of its committee on Education said the measure was in view of the prevailing economic hardship in the country.
The speaker, while reading the resolution of the House at the end of committee’s meeting which lasted over two hours wondered why the management of the polytechnic hiked the tuition fees during this hard time.
He said a sum of N300 million had already been provided and approved in the 2018 Budget for the polytechnic to cater for any shortfall in the fund realized from payment of school fees.
In order to avert confrontations between the executive and legislative arms of government, Governor Ahmed hurriedly announced his preparedness to revisit the polytechnic’s tuition fees.
Governor Ahmed disclosed this in a statement by his senior special assistant on Media and Communication, Dr Muhideen Akorede.
Ahmed noted that in line with his determination to resolve the school fees controversy, a committee comprising members of the state’s House of Assembly and officials of relevant ministries has been set up to conduct a forensic investigation into the tuition fees and submit their report by January 5th, 2018 in response to the assembly’s earlier resolution on the fee issue.
He expressed optimism that the tuition fees will be reviewed in a manner that satisfies students, parents and guardians as well as the institution’s capacity to run efficiently and in a sustainable manner.
He thanked the leadership and members of the House of Assembly for their interest in resolving the issue of Kwara State Polytechnic fees in an amicable and mutually acceptable manner.
The legislators later passed the 2018 Budget into law, hoping the governor will heed the popular demand for a downward review of the contentious tuition fees.
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