By Scroll Reporter Lagos, Nigeria.
SAVE TASUED AND FUND EDUCATION COALITION
The Save TASUED and Fund Education Coalition (STAFEC) wishes to bring to the notice of your Excellency the numerous abnormalities and countless unfortunate scenarios that have found their abode on the campus of Tai Solarin University of Education (TASUED). It is pertinent especially at this period of a biting recession to vent our spleen and raise our strong dissent against the spate of heavy extortion of mass of students being perpetrated by the State Government with the connivance of the management of TASUED.
The State government and management of TASUED currently impose fees/charges with questionable and unfounded bases. Aside from the outrageous school fees, there are other charges that can only be regarded as either fraudulent or baseless. We would attempt to do a stepwise enumeration of some of the extorted charges forced down the throat of poor parents of TASUED students.
School fee (freshmen): N76, 500
School fee (Stale students): N66, 500
Acceptance Fee (freshmen): N40, 000
Registration fee (freshmen): N25, 000
Tax Clearance (freshmen): N10, 100
Penalty for late submission (freshmen): N20, 000
THE CONTROVERSIES, DISAGREEMENT AND INCONSISTENCES THAT SURROUND THESE CHARGES
Without having to start from how outrageous and thoughtless it is to impose a fee of N151, 100 on freshmen whose parents fall to the category of workers who are either being owed backlog of salaries or underpaid with N18, 000 minimum wage. This is not in any case an attempt to vindicate the payment of N66, 500 by the stale students; it is wicked and unfair on a population that already considers a two square meal as an unaffordable luxury due to government imposed austerity.
THE CONTROVERSIAL REGISTRATION FEE:
The imposition of the infamous N25, 000 registration fees is another obnoxious policy worthy of vehement condemnation. The University management at the beginning of this session increased what used to be called Vocational Studies (VOS) fee from N1, 000 to N25, 000. The perceived criminality of this thoughtless increment was not only about its outrageous character but its fraudulent implementation. The VOS fee was in the first instance rebranded as registration fee subjected to a different mode of payment and in another bank called the Tai Solarin Microfinance Bank. Aside the fact that the registration fee is not even on the electronic portal page, it was subjected to a different mode of payment, different from the central electronic payment system where all fees are usually paid. This is not only contrary to the new policy of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) but also calls for a suspicious probe. Moreover, what essence is registration fee after the payment of N76, 500 school fee and N40, 000 acceptance fees? These are questions begging for sincere answers. The management in fact has not been able to successfully give a breakdown of the school fee, how each of these fees are spent neither has there been any modicum of justification for the horrendous charges.
THE ACCEPTANCE FEE INCREMENT:
As if the N 25, 000 extorted as registration fee is not enough, the increment in acceptance fee from N30, 000 to N40, 000 remains totally unacceptable and unfair to the mass of the economically battered Nigerian populace. Aside our disagreement and outright rejection of the increment based on obvious and justifiable reasons, we also take exception to the imposition of an additional N10, 000 on students who could not meet up with the early payment of N40, 000. It is irrational enough to deliberately squeeze N50, 000 naira out of the pocket of someone who finds it herculean to afford N40, 000, it is however more maddening and extremely questionable to unravel that the much touted extra N10, 000 finds its way into a different account (Just like the supposed registration fee) probably with the aim of ending into private pockets.
THE N20, 000 PENALTY FOR LATE SUBMISSION OF CLEARANCE FILE (GREEN FILE):
Every numerous and unfathomable occurrence in TASUED further reinforces the claim that the University is out to exploit Nigerian students and their parents by any immoral means necessary. The clearance file contains the admission documents of fresh students. The green file is expected to be submitted upon gaining admission into the University and paying up all necessary charges which in this case has totaled up to N151, 100. With an anti-poor economy that is characterized with suffocating recession and inadequate payment of salaries, it is not unusual to see students who could not meet up with the short payment deadline. This would mean that such students after striving very hard to cough out the pocket tearing N76, 500 school fee, the fraudulent N40/50, 000 acceptance fee, the questionable N10, 100 tax clearance and the unexplainable N25, 000 registration fee, he would still be made to pay additional N20, 000 penalty before he can be allowed to sit for any examination on the campus.
Sir, it would also interest you and the general public to know that this N20, 000 just like the afore-analyzed have no place on the electronic portal of the University website neither is it paid through the general means of payment. Payment is made yet again into a different account; another violation of the extant rule that guarantees the use of TSA.
ON THE INFAMOUS TAX CLEARANCE:
Sir, of all the scores of regrettable and thoughtless extortions meted on students and their parents, this is the most embarrassing, laughable and condemnable. Students of the institution are being made to pay a sum of N10, 000 to obtain a tax clearance before being considered as bonafide student of the University. This tax clearance is in fact part of the document contained in the green file that attracted a penalty of N20, 000 for late submission.
Needless to say that nowhere on the surface of the Universe and the federal government act on taxation is education considered as commodity worthy of being taxed. This is aside the fact that the imposition of tax on students is a violation of the act on personal income tax as students are not workers and hence earn no personal income. Assuming without conceding that the government feigned reliance on the tax clearance of the parents, it would still not be justifiable. Reliance on parent’s tax clearance as a requisite to access public education presupposes that the education is in the first instance free. It would on the other hand amount to maintenance of double standard and extortion on two fronts if education is not free and parents are yet again taxed on education. Moreover, one may be forced to wonder how the government arrived at 10, 000 naira taxation when it is obvious that our parents do not earn the same personal income.
UNDERFUNDING REMAINS THE BASIS OF THE AVALANCHE OF PROBLEMS FACED BY TASUED:
It is worthy of note that TASUED in the past few years has been a victim of deliberate underfunding. The campus during the regime of Gbenga Daniel managed to make do with the insignificant paltry of N61million naira. Your government unfortunately depleted it to 16million naira which is not even paid steadily. It is quite unheard of that a University that is supposed to be the best University of Education in Nigeria and Second best in Africa cannot boast of a decent hostel, modern lecture theatres and adequate learning facilities, neither has your government constructed any new building in the last four years except for TETFUND/ALUMNI interventions. This underfunding has led to inadequate payment of TASUED workers’ salaries and allowances. This was the basis of the heavy and scandalous fee increment imposed on students. This assertion must not be seen as an attempt to justify the ridiculous charges imposed on students but a call on the government to fund our education by at least 26% budgetary allocation as recommended by UNESCO.
Sir, it is our wish that an end is put to all of this myriad of absurdities analyzed by this petition and we forthwith put forward the following demands;
Immediate cancellation of the N25, 000 registration fee
That government put an end to the illegal taxation of students
We demand an end to the fraudulent N20, 000 penalty for late submission of green file.
We demand an immediate breakdown of how all the fees and charges are being spent
We demand immediate Probe of the management of Tai Solarin University of Education.
For the upward funding of TASUED with at least 26% budgetary allocation as recommended by UNESCO.
We demand free, accessible and affordable education for Nigerian students attending Ogun State Tertiary Institutions.
Adequate payment of salaries and allowances of the University Workers.
Tai Solarin Students’ Union
The National Secretariat, National Universities Education Student Association (NUESA)
Alliance of Nigerian Students against Neoliberal Attacks (ANSA)
Abraham Adesanya Students’ Union.
Students and Youth Activists Support initiative (SAYASI)
THE MANAGEMENT OF TAI SOLARIN UNIVERSITY OF EDUCATION
ASUU NATIONAL SECRETARIAT
JOINT ACTION FRONT (JAF)
UNITED ACTION FOR DEMOCRACY (UAD)
COMMITTEE FOR THE DEFENCE OF HUMAN RIGHTS (CDHR)
SOCIAL ECONOMIC RIGHTS AND ACCOUNTABILITY PROJECTS (SERAP)
ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL CRIMES COMMISSION (EFCC)