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Nigerian students to pay more, as Tinubu’s loans will delete free tuitions – report

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For the first time in their history, students in all federal universities, polytechnics and colleges of education in Nigeria are to commence payment of tuition fees, no thanks to the new policies being introduced by the Federal Government under President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

This is the fallout of the signing of the Student Loan Bill by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on Monday, a development, which though initially widely celebrated in many quarters, seems to be getting some pushbacks as stakeholders have begun to look closely at the implication of the new law for the millions of prospective students who rely on tuition-free higher institutions of learning to acquire knowledge.

Educationists and other stakeholders, who said this would have wider implications, given that in Nigeria, tuition, which runs into hundreds of thousands of naira or even millions of naira in private universities, is free in government schools at both national and state levels.

Daily Trust, reports that the situation has been the same since independence, even though some charges for other issues such as accommodation, departmental, and course registration, among others vary from one institution to another, adding that the waiver of tuition has given millions of students the opportunity to go to school, a situation observers say the introduction of a student loan scheme, would now put an end to.

The report, which claimed that there  was no immediate response from the Federal Ministry of Education, quoted Clause 3 of the Students Loan Act as saying: “The loans referred to in this Act shall be granted to students only for the payment of tuition fees.”

Maintaining that the clause contravened the existing provision that said tuition was free in public institutions, the report argued that the question of tuition in Nigerian institutions is a constitutional matter vide Chapter 2 of the amended 1999 Constitution, adding that by the provisions of that chapter, no publicly owned institution was permitted and it was illegal for any one of them to charge tuition fees on any citizen of the country.

Citing the Act establishing the law, which stipulated that the Student Loan Bill would provide easy access to higher education for indigent Nigerians through interest-free loans from the Nigerian Education Loan Fund, it stressed how it also stipulated that it also stated that act made it mandatory to all matters pertaining to the application and grant of loans to Nigerians seeking higher education into institutions of higher learning in Nigeria through the Nigerian Education Loan Fund.

“All students seeking higher education in any public institution of higher learning in Nigeria shall have equal right to access the loans under this Act without any discrimination arising from gender, religion, tribe, position or disability of any kind,” the act reads.

It, however, noted that the grant of the loan to any student under the Act shall be subject to the applicant satisfying the requirements and conditions set out under this Act, including that students found to be involved in consumption of drugs would not be eligible.

President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Emmanuel Osodeke, reportedly said the bill was not new as it had been on for a long time, was quoted as saying: “A country where more than 133 million are living below the poverty line and you want to introduce tuition fees? It will be counterproductive.

“Every Nigerian should know what is going to happen next and there may likely be another bill waiting for signature that will introduce tuition fees. If the bill indicated that the loan is to pay tuition fees and there are no tuition fees in Nigerian universities, then what is your next approach?”

He added: “We have said long ago, in 2017, to President Buhari when they came up with the issue of tuition fees, that every student will pay N1 million and we said you cannot put that in our agreement and you cannot use that to negotiate with us and with the nature of the country we have today, there is no way that will work.

“What will happen is that the majority of students whose parents cannot afford it will pull out of school in anger and you know what that means, they will fight the society back. But let us get the correct information first before knowing the next steps,” he added.

A professor at the University of Abuja, Ben Ugwoke, said going by the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, no public institution pays tuition fees. That is, all public institutions in Nigeria are tuition-free.

“However, due to underfunding, the governing councils or boards of these public institutions are permitted by the laws establishing the institutions to determine appropriate charges and levies that students should pay to cover specific costs.

“The bill signed into law does not abrogate the various acts of the National Assembly establishing the public institutions which enable them to levy students appropriately. The new students’ loan act did not in any way abolish the current or future regime of charges students of public institutions in Nigeria currently pay.

“Let me hazard a guess that the new act has laid a formal basis for the various governing organs of the public institutions in Nigeria to levy higher charges on students. “To the naive, it means relief but to my mind, I think it means higher charges are on the horizon for students.”

For Professor Nasiru Medugu Idris of Nasarawa State University Keffi, “Tuition fees will remain the same or even higher. This is because the students’ loan will strictly be for the purpose of tuition fees. So no abolition of tuition fees in Nigerian universities.

“School’s tuition fee maybe 10 to 20 per cent of students’ expenditure per semester. Therefore parents and students should not celebrate the signing of the act for now until they have accessed the loan first,” he said.

Meanwhile, when our reporter contacted the Federal Ministry of Education to clarify clause 3 of the act, via a text message to the Permanent Secretary, David Adejo, through the Director of Press, Bem Ben Goong, the director said the ministry will address a press conference on Wednesday to clarify all issues and as such had no comment.

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Imo massacre: Armoured vehicles procured for police used to rig elections – LP

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Labour Party, palpably in anguish at the slaughter of eight soldiers in Imo State on Tuesday by some rampaging gunmen, has raised questions over the whereabouts of the nine Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) Athan Achonu, it claimed its governorship candidate for the November 11 election, repaired and donated to the authorities in the state.

The party, all but called out the leadership of the Imo State Police Command, to whom they claimed the equipment were handed over, alleging that the last time they APCs were seen was during the last general elections, where they were used by members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the party in power in the state to snatch ballot boxes for candidates in the national and state assemblies.

The claim, was made when Nick Opara-Ndudu  and Nnaemeka Onyeka Obiareri , chieftains of the party appeared as guests on The Morning Show, a breakfast programme on Arise Television to sell the candidacy of Achonu, whom they said would never have allowed the type of insecurity in the state to endure under his watch.

Both men, who said that Achonu, whose highest political office so far, was his short stint in the Senate, where he served via the 2015 election before he was removed through the courts, remained the only solution not to the insecurity, in the state and even the South East,  but the one to rescue the people from years of underdevelopment from poor leadership.

Obiareri, spokesman of the LP in the state, argued that if the APCs had been in place, Tuesday’s incident in which the military men were killed alongside some policemen and officials of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), would probably not have happened, said a check on the social media would reveal how they were used by party men of the APC for rigging the 2023 general elections.

He said: “The military men that were killed if they had armoured vehicles patrolling, they wouldn’t have been shot by those criminals. Athan Achonu, go and confirm from Innoson, paid hundreds of millions of naira to Innoson, Innoson is still alive, you people can still go and interview him, to repair nine armoured vehicles for the police. Five were supposed to be in Okigwe zone. Till today, we don’t know where those nine armoured cars are.

“If you go to Youtube, you’ll see Youtube record of members of the House of Assembly in Imo State using those APCs to carry ballot boxes. It’s there on Youtube, you can search it out. What Athan Achonu will do is very simple. Every local government area will have one humvy vehicle for the police. Police stations had been totally burnt in Imo State and Athan repaired most of those police stations.

“Then, there will be community vigilante. We’ll train those 50 youths per community – train them, equip them and arm them. They should guard their communities. When you have over 50,000 hectres of land, reclaimed from the bandits, and you have youths who are not only just farming, but who are trained to protect their communities, they’ll do the job.

“Then, we have to set up a security trust fund. Ndi-Imo are not scared. As at today, there are some communities in Imo State, where bandits – unknown gunmen, are ransacking and collecting levies from the communities. Basically, Athan Achonu will provide training, recruitment for people donated by the communities. Communities know those who are the terrible ones in their midst. And I tell you, in six months, they will flush them out.”

Opara-Ndudu, who dismissed the claim by the state governor, Hope Uzodimma that the carnage and other killings in the state were politically-motivated, blamed the governor for misplacing his priorities and failing to provide jobs for the teeming youth population in the state, questioning why nobody had been arrested and prosecuted fully in the courts if the insecurity in the state was all about politics.

Hear him: “The security problem has to do with objective conditions in the state. The young people are frustrated. The government is not making any investments in the areas that are required. We’re busy pursuing projects that are designs in deception. Look at the roads that are being done in Imo State, you know for you to deal with the problem of poverty and other economic challenges, you have to deal with the problem of infrastructure.

“In Imo State, the government has dedicated all of its time and half of its time to reconstructing federal roads without any attention – little or no attention paid to the rural areas. If you go to length and breadth of Imo State – Ngor Okpala, Ezinifte Mbaise, even in the governor’s local government – everywhere in Imo State, you find that the rural areas are looking desolate and abandoned.”

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Police find body of missing female student dumped in the bush, vow to get killers

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Operatives of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), command, have vowed to fish out the killers of a university student, Blessing Karami, whose body was said to have been picked up from the bush days after she was declared missing on September 11.

The FCT police, which released the painful news on Thursday, said in a statement by its spokesman, Josephine Adeh that the remains were found in the woods in the Karimu area of the city.

The police spokesman acknowledged that her disappearance was reported to the police authorities last,  Thursday, September 14 added that 26-year-old Blessing, a student of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), was declared missing after leaving her place of work in Garki, Abuja.

She said in the statement: “The body of Blessing Karami Moses, a 26-year-old woman who had been missing since September 11, 2023, was tragically discovered in a wooded area in Karimo. Her disappearance was reported to the authorities on September 14, 2023,” the statement read.

She said Commissioner of Police, FCT, Haruna Garba, had directed that command should conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident, adding: “While we are working closely with the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) to facilitate the respectful retrieval of the decomposed remains acknowledging the sensitive nature of this task, we will continue to provide updates to the public as our investigation progresses.”

Adeh, a Superintendent of Police (SP), also commiserated with Blessing’s family and loved ones over the incident.

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Ogun cult massacre: DSS raid home, pick up PDP lawmaker, five others

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Damilare Bello Mohammed, a serving member of the Ogun State House of Assembly (OGHA), is currently telling operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) his side of the story, after he was picked up over his alleged involvement in the rival secret cult clashes that occurred in Sagamu town.

Mohammed, recently elected on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to represent Sagamu State Constituency 1, was picked up on Wednesday by the agency over the incident in which at least eight persons were killed last weekend during the violent clash in the town, alongside five other suspected cultists allegedly involved in the cult violence.

The five other suspects; Debbo Animashaun, Bamidele Saheed, Ismaila Onitire, Adewale Otesanya and Tobi Owoade, were arrested by the DSS operatives during a sting operation after a tip-off at the early hours of Thursday within the residence of the lawmaker.

Lekan Adeniran, spokesman to Dapo Abiodun, the Ogun State governor, announced the development in a statement on Wednesday, saying the secret police tracked the six suspected cultists to the official residence of the lawmaker.

Accusing the lawmaker of providing shelter to the cultists, Adeniran, said in the statement, that the suspects were presently undergoing interrogation in DSS custody after many dangerous weapons, including guns, were recovered from them.

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