Fri. Apr 10th, 2020

Increase In Fees At Rivers Varsity Not Enough For Students To Riot – SUG

5 min read

Students have continued to express dissatisfaction over the recent school fees increment by management of the Rivers State University.
From the fee schedule document for 2019/2020 academic session, it was learnt that apart from accommodation fee, acceptance fee, medical exam, certification verification fee and few others, fresh students are expected to pay between 70 to 90,000 for indigenes, while non-indigenes are paying N120 to N150,000 depending on the department. That of the returning students differs by about N10,000.
Precious Pepple, the Student Union Government President of the institution spoke with EDITH CHUKU on this matter.
Excerpts:
Students have continued to bicker over the recent increment of school fees. What is the position of the SUG on this matter?
Unfortunately, we are at this point where we have economic crisis. It’s so unfortunate that this is happening now, but the truth of the matter is, as the SUG president of the institution, I don’t have the power to decide, it’s not in our place to decide what students should pay as school fees. What we can do is to plead, appeal and come to an understanding which I’ve done and also negotiate with the management to make sure that the school fees students will have to pay will not be much for them, which we have done carefully. We’ve gone into consultations, negotiation, to make sure that it will not be hard on them. At least the management is understanding, they have said they know the importance of students union government and why the student union government is in existence. That’s why they gave us the opportunity to negotiate with them, which we negotiated and it ended at a point where both parties had to compromise. You know that even if it’s N1000 that was added to the school fees prior to now, students will still complain. But the truth of the matter is, I’m not happy that this is coming at this point, I do not have what it takes to prevent it, but we’ve done the best we could do, which is to appeal, negotiate and come to an understanding just to make sure that students will not find it so hard.
The increment is almost times two of the initial fee, fresh students are to pay over N85,000 for indigenes and N140,000 for non-indigenes while returning students are to pay over N75,000 for indigenes and N130,000 for non-indigenes depending on the department. Is this not on the high side?
To some extent, considering what we were paying before now. For indigenes presently you will find out that it’s about N18,000 that was added. It’s big, quite huge, why I am talking like this is because I know not all fingers are equal. Some persons will pay the fee without even thinking about it, as I am speaking to you there are some that have not even paid their school fees for last session. Now, including this one becomes a problem. But at this point, that’s the best we could do, imagine the school management did not consult the SUG and it was left at the amount initiated. It would have been something else, this is the fairest amount we could get to since they said the school fees increment is inevitable.
Why the increment, did the school management state clear reasons they had to initiate school fees increment at this time?
Yes, I won’t say they didn’t mention. Several meetings we attended, they made mention of improving infrastructure, facilities and power supply on campus. We have faculties on campus as I’m talking to you, in the classes some of the laboratories in school are bad and all that. So the reason is to improve infrastructure and also the amount they are paying for light is too much so they need to step it up, because an institution that don’t have robust power supply is something else, it’s epileptic.
As a state owned University, is that to say that the state government has failed in her responsibility as regards infrastructure?
I don’t want to talk about that, I think the VC is in the best position to talk about that.
What if students take to riot to express their grievance over the increment?
(Cuts in) I know my students; the students I know will not result to rioting; they know it won’t do us any good in all ramifications. As a student, while coming to the institution what is binding you is the code of good conduct you signed in year one. So every student that signed that document will not think of such, will not come to school to riot and vandalize properties. Now, talking about what the SUG will do about that- first of all, the SUG will never, never support any protest or rioting because we were consulted and our opinion was heard and considered by the management. In such a case, which by God’s grace will not happen, we will allow the school management and security to ensure preventive measures to prevent that, because the effect of rioting is something that over the years if you look at other institutions it has caused a serious setback in their academic calendar, damaging of school properties and name of the institution. In some worse scenario, lives were even lost in the process. So as an SUG president, I won’t like that to happen in my time. I believe my students, they are good, they know their purpose and are pursuing same. I believe it won’t result to rioting. If the SUG has gone to this point to say okay we have understood the term, we have negotiated on your behalf to this extent, the SUG has what it takes to call for a protest but that is obviously not necessary; that will be taking the school management for granted. They consulted us, we made known the plight of students to them and they listened, so riot is not an option.
Like you said, all fingers are not equal, what is your advice to those students who are discouraged at this point?
First of all, I must apologise, I must sympathise with those persons that it will be very heavy on. My advice to them is they shouldn’t give up, continue with your very best, stay committed. God will make it possible as He has always done. You may not have, yes, but God will provide, protest is not the way out, it won’t help you, it won’t help me, protest or riot is not the best option, but if they can think of any method or come up with any approach that can help manage and bring about a reduction in the fee, then they should come to me, they should bring it, let’s weigh it together and see how we can move with it to management.
What is your advice to management?
My word to management is simple. The school fees has been increased, the SUG has understood with them, they should ensure that the reason for the increment is fulfilled. Students should see why they increased the fee so that students will be satisfied over what they are paying, they should utilize it for the reasons stated.

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