Nigeria: Statement of WYSN on the Recent UNIABUJA Fee Increment

We publish the statement of the Workers and Youth Solidarity Network (WYSN) in Nigeria

The recent and concurrent increment in the school fees of the University of Abuja is anti-poor

The Workers and Youth Solidarity Network:

  • Strongly condemns the recent fee hikes
  • Calls for an immediate reversal of the fee hike
  • Urges students and workers to be ready to struggle for its reversal
  • Calls on the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) to name a day for a nationwide lecture boycott and mass protest.

We, the Workers’ and Youths’ Solidarity Network, are shocked to hear about the outrageous increment in fees payable by new and returning students of the University of Abuja. The new fee structure requires Health Sciences students to pay a whopping N205,000 – N225,000 in school fees, on top of the acceptance fee of N30,000 and other dues and levies. This is the third time in five years that the school fee has been increased.

The Vice-Chancellor, Rasheed Na’Allah (PhD), claims that the primary objective behind the increment is to make the institution’s students the best so their dreams can become a reality. However, we see this development as anti-poor and highly insensitive to the economic crisis facing Nigeria. The school management should turn to the government for funding and not increase the burden on students.

Therefore, we totally condemn this increment and call for its immediate reversal. We urge students and workers to commence a comprehensive struggle for the reversal of the hiked fee. We also call on NANS to immediately name a day for a nationwide lecture boycott and mass protest, to demand the reversal of all hiked fees, an end to education commercialization, and improved funding of public education.

In January 2018, UNIABUJA implemented its first school fee increment, and two years later, as reported by The Guardian, the fees were increased again by 100%, with a two-week deadline for payment. Students took to social media to express their outrage over the insensitivity and recklessness of the University Management and the Students’ Union leadership, who have constantly been tools of the management. After the Covid-19 break, the management locked the portal for fee payment. In February 2021, students used the hashtag #EndUniabujaOppression to lead a protest and occupied the streets of Giri, Abuja, to demand a reversal of the 100% increase and the re-opening of the portal. However, according to Sahara Reporters, the Vice Chancellor of the University refused to reverse the fee, claiming that some students had already paid. This led hundreds of students to drop out of school as they could not afford the new fee.

In 2022, the University Management, still under the same Vice-Chancellor, increased the school fees by over 50%, citing the inability of the university to depend on the government for funds. In a statement obtained from The Punch Newspaper, the University spokesperson, Habib Yakoob (PhD), said that “the increment is not that significant”!

The school management should turn to the government for funding instead of increasing the burden on the students. We strongly condemn these increments and call for their immediate reversal. Students and workers must be prepared to struggle for a total reversal of the hiked fees, and we urge the leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) to name a day for a nationwide lecture boycott and mass protest to demand an end to education commercialization and improved funding of public education.

Instead of pushing for adequate funding from the government, the University Chancellor has chosen to increase the burden on the working people who survive on a meagre N30,000 minimum wage. We firmly believe that Vice-Chancellor Na’Allah is unfit to hold the position at the University of Abuja, as he has failed in his primary duty of ensuring the safety and welfare of students.

Furthermore, we reject the N30,000 acceptance fee payment demanded from new students by the University’s management. The National House of Representatives, as reported by ThisDayLive Newspaper, directed all federal institutions to stop collecting acceptance fees from new students and refund the ones already paid in 2020. Institutions like Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile Ife refunded this fee to their students in the same year. We are puzzled as to how this fee has found its way back into the UniAbuja system, and we call for its immediate removal.

We cannot overlook the precarious state of the university’s hostel and housing system. The current hostel facilities on campus can only accommodate less than 30% of the total student population, leaving others to face exorbitant off-campus rents, security threats, and high transportation costs. We believe that these issues require urgent attention from the University. Instead, the management has chosen to dry-milk the parents of students in an attempt to cover up for the inefficiencies of the Buhari/APC-led federal government.

We also demand that all students who have paid this new fee should be refunded accordingly. Similarly, we urge the students and staff unions of the university to launch a struggle, starting with an immediate reversal of the humongous fee and thorough auditing of the university’s account.

We call on the leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students to name a day for a total nationwide lecture boycott and mass protests to demand a reversal of all hiked fees, an end to the commercialization of education, and improved funding of the education sector. This kind of struggle must involve the mobilization of students, parents, workers, and community members.

Raising fees has a direct negative impact on the working people. It sends more young people onto the streets, contributing to an increase in criminal activities. The Nigerian government, with the cooperation of university management, continues to deny Nigerian youth their right to quality education through policies such as fee increases, neglect of academic staff unions, and reduced education funding, among other things. Let us also not forget that members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) are still owed over six months’ salaries simply because they demanded better and more transparent payment and funding structures.
Only a united struggle of workers and youth can ensure that we gain concessions from the current and incoming government and that we open the way for a better education.

Damilola Owot
Secretary, Workers and Youth Solidarity Network (WYSN)

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