From Okwe Obi, Abuja
Northern students under the aegis of the Coalition of Northern Groups Student Wing (CNG-SW), on Monday, threatened to shut down the entire region in protest over indiscriminate hikes in tuition fees.
CNG-SW National Coordinator Emuseh Bokunga, at a press briefing in Abuja, listed the University of Maiduguri, Borno State, Federal University Dutse, Jigawa State, and the Federal University Lafia, Nasarawa State as some of the schools leading the pack in tuition hike.
Bokunga claimed that the hike was a calculated attempt to continuously weaken the region educationally and pauperise it economically.
She warned that if not reviewed, so many students would drop out and would be forced to take part in criminality.
“Some insensitive and indifferent authorities of northern Nigerian universities have already announced incredible increments in their tuition.
“Those in this category according to the group, are, the University of Maiduguri in the northeast, Federal University Dutse in the Northwest and the Federal University Lafia in the North Central.
“As is the tradition of the CNG, we took time to understudy the situation and assess the inherent dangers the hike in tuition would pose to Nigerians and especially to the northern region which has been abandoned to the mercy of rampaging banditry and insurgency.
“We are convinced therefore that this hike and other potentially damaging policies are part of a calculated design to continuously weaken the North educationally and pauperise it economically.
“We find it regrettable that as a result of these poorly designed policies, hunger is stalking millions of homes, inflation is making life difficult by the day, people are losing jobs, businesses are closing down infrastructure is decaying, young Nigerians are losing hope of being employed, hospitals are full of people who suffer various illnesses, and cannot afford the fees,” she said.
She called on Northern leaders to weigh in on the matter and remedy the situation before it gets out of hand.
“We demand from all stakeholders, concerted action to checkmate this unfolding ugly scenario by ensuring an immediate downward review of hiked tuition across the universities in the North.
“We demand the northern elite and stakeholders to speak up to reject and discourage the passage of the Education Loan Bill as the lifespan, and sustainability of the loan is not guaranteed,” she said.
Bokunga concluded: “Finally, we place the Federal Government on notice that if after this decent plea and persuasion, it fails to see reason, we shall take concrete actions which will not preclude mobilising for massive and sustained region-wide protests.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we emphatically place on record that any such protests would be total, and shall involve the indefinite shutdown of all campuses, and occupation of major highways and state capitals across the North.”