The Students Solidarity Group has criticised the Nigerian government, led by President Bola Tinubu, for neglecting to prioritise and adequately fund education, instead choosing to allocate resources to non-essential expenditures.
In a statement, the group expressed disapproval of the presidency’s spokesman, Dele Alake, accusing him and other government representatives of spreading misinformation and disinformation.
The Students Solidarity Group, represented by Adetola Oluwatosin and Oyelumade Oluwakemi, emphasised that investing in affordable education should take precedence over acquiring Super Tucano Jets or spending over N70 billion on Sport Utility Vehicles for lawmakers.
The group said: “Under the guise of discretionary charges, University officials have arbitrarily imposed astronomical fees for utility bills, hostel accommodation, ID cards, drug tests, course registration, examination, laboratory use, and other inanities they can’t explain. If it were not for the embarrassment it would have caused, these University officials would have added ‘Fees for Night guards’.
“These charges are nothing but a ploy to conceal their true intentions. The true intention of the government is to hand off public education, commercialize it and introduce full-blown tuition which would only be fulfilling the recommendations of the Stephen Oronsaye’s report of 2012 that advised the government to force poor parents and students to cough out nothing less than 600,000 Naira as University fees.
“The promise of high-quality tertiary education for all Nigerians, regardless of economic status, has been broken by the government. Countless students from low-income families who once aspired to pursue their dreams are now being denied the right to an education due to exorbitant fees. The dreams of our country’s future leaders are being crushed by greed and indifference.
“The government’s so-called Students’ Loans Scheme may appear to be a lifeline, but it is nothing more than a hollow promise. Burdening students with debt is not a solution. It is a calculated move to plunge them into financial ruin and extended servitude. Education should be regarded as a right, as a social investment, and not a business. Education is not a privilege to be obtained through loans and debt bondage.”
The group highlighted the burden of exorbitant fees placed on students at Federal Universities, including the University of Lagos, through arbitrary charges for various services and amenities. They argued that these fees are an attempt to commercialize public education and introduce full-blown tuition, thereby denying access to higher education for countless students from low-income families.
They criticised the government’s Students’ Loans Scheme, asserting that burdening students with debt is not a solution and that education should be considered a right, not a privilege attained through loans.
The Students Solidarity Group demanded the immediate reversal of fee hikes in all Federal Universities, increased funding by the Federal Government to ensure accessible and affordable education for all, and the reinstatement of democratic and vibrant Students Unions to represent students’ voices and protect their collective rights.
They called upon students, parents, and concerned citizens to join their cause against the assault on education, urging the government to address their demands promptly.