Chiemeka ADINDU, Calabar
Four months after the Cross River State governor, Professor Ben Ayade announced that Cross River youths who are studying at the state-owned institution, University of Cross River, UNICROSS formerly known as Cross River University of Technology, CRUTECH will no longer pay tuition fees, the promised is yet to be fulfilled.
He had said: “I hereby direct that all Cross Riverians who are students of CRUTECH should suspend the payment of school fees indefinitely.” However, it was surprising to see in circular no 315, with reference number CRUTECH/REG/GC/VOLI/32/315 and addressed to the university community where the registrar instructed that “all students who have not paid their school fees should commence payment from Friday, January 22, 2021.”
The statement further warned that “only students who have paid their fees and registered for the semester are considered bonafide students of the institution” and that the “no fee, no exam policy of the institution is still in full force.” This, according to reports indicates that the circular was addressing both indigenes and non-indigenes of the state.
When TNN visited the institution to find out the true situation on the matter, it was gathered that the state governor had not fulfilled the promise. Some students who spoke with TNN and pleaded anonymity decried that they received the news with gladness but that up till now they still pay their tuition fees. They however pleaded with the governor to swiftly do something about the promise as many parents who were relaxed because of the promise are now struggling to meet up.
Others who were of the opinion that the governor had not fulfilled most of his campaign promises said they never believed what he said even though they are still hopeful for God to touch his mind to fulfill the promise. They also complained about infrastructural decay and lack of basic facilities in the institution including porous security. Efforts were made to reach the Vice Chancellor but he was not disposed to grant an interview at the time this report was filed.
When TNN contacted the Special Assistant to the Governor on student affairs, Abang Ogon, he pleaded with the students to understand that the implementation process for the promise was on-going. He said the welfare of Cross River students all over the world not just in the state was the utmost concern of the state government. Ogon urged them to be patient with the government.
He said: “Let’s get the facts clear, the governor said free tuition. The governor did not say free school fees; he said free tuition for Cross River students who are in CRUTECH. But that was not done in retrospect; what that means is that those who have outstanding fees to pay like you’re in final year and you’ve not paid school fees from year one, you think that because of this pronouncement you can go and get clearance from school, that’s not possible.
“I was with the vice chancellor last week and what the school is doing now is for students to pay previous fees. And again, before that pronouncement, students in CRUTECH had already paid 70 per cent of the present semester fee.
“So those who were addressed in that circular of ‘no fees, no exam’ are those who are yet to pay the fee for their current level. Again, that pronouncement will go through processes, the ministry of education will have to come together to know the number of Cross Riverians in CRUTECH, know the cost of their tuition and now know whether the government will pay the fee or take over the total wage bill of the institution. So for now that intervention is still on the implementation stage of it.
“For those of us who have known His Excellency for long, Ayade will not say a thing that he will not do. He told us he was going to employ 20, 000 persons and 20, 000 persons are receiving salaries across the state now.
The aide also said the promise is not a bill from the house of assembly but a nice gesture from the governor who had a good heart which another government could terminate if it did not favour them. He also commended the governor for signing the bill for the change of the institution’s name, adding that it will create job opportunities for Cross Riverians and expansion for the institution.