A proverbial Hausa dictum states that ‘If you see your neighbour’s beard go in flames, you should wet yours’. For instance, this can be simplified to mean that if you notice the car in front of you crash because of high speed, you should apply the brakes. Emphasis is on being cautious and proactive at all times. But that was not the case with the people of Niger State, at least in terms of action as Kaduna went ablaze.
When news broke out about the hike in tuition fees in Kaduna State, the internet went agog, followed by public uproar and protests. And…. as you would expect, nothing more than grouses here and there as parents were forced to comply with the increment or keep their wards outside the walls of the varsity.
The decision stood, despite the opposition, protests, and ‘aluta gra-gra‘. But, like an infectious disease, it has now spread its tentacles to the neighbouring Niger State. So much for solidarity, eh?
In the cold hours of Wednesday, 4th August 2021, another shocker hit the public space. This time, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai, Niger State, followed suit in the tuition hike competition, with a staggering increment somewhat above 150%!
Where do we go from here?
The students are confused. The parents and guardians are even more so. There is fear that there would be a repeat of Kaduna State which appears to be the vanguard in the hiking tournament.
Agreed, education is expensive. But the same ought to be made affordable in the interest of social growth and development. No society prospers on gargantuan illiteracy, and none ever will. So, isn’t it ironical that a region (North) already struggling with many out of school persons and abject under-development is striving so hard to make education unaffordable? Does it make any sense?
For the umpteenth time, where do we go from here?
How can a state deem it fit to impose above 150% increment in tuition fee where the same state is struggling to meet the minimum wage mandate? For a while now, this same state has failed to pay 100% salary, for God’s sake. Look at Borno State, for instance; it is a region blighted by insecurity, yet they pay wages in full when due and equip their educational institutions with state of the art facilities without resorting to milk the lot on educational grounds. So what is wrong with Niger State, please?
It wouldn’t be long before conspiracy theories begin to fly here and there, justifiably. And, don’t be shocked to see the lot argue that an agenda is being pursued to deny the poor access to education despite it (education) being a fundamental human right. It is bad enough that graduates roam the streets without meaningful jobs. But, I hate to think of a scenario where those roaming the streets are aggrieved students compelled to drop out of school due to ill-advised policy/policies by those in the corridors of power.
Now that the fire has reached Niger State, our neighbours should better wet their “bear-bear” by supporting them to help persuade the government to reverse this increment.
This fire should be extinguished here and now!
Yahaya Ibrahim can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.