51-year-old UNIABUJA student attempts suicide over tuition fee increase

Ada Amazu, a final-year student at the University of Abuja (UNIABUJA), reportedly attempted suicide due to an increase in school fees.

The Veterinary Medicine undergraduate attempted suicide after being required to retake an academic session for failing to pay her tuition fees, which had recently increased from N71,000 to N196,000, prior to the end of registration.

Her plight was exacerbated when she lost her church scholarship as costs increased from N36,000 in her first year to N196,000 in her final year.

While most of her colleagues who were admitted under the scholarship initiative dropped out when the church stopped paying, 51-year-old Amazu persevered by doing everything she could to raise the funds on her own.

In a statement made accessible by a civil society organisation, Education Rights Campaign (ERC), the group appealed for the immediate reversal of the fees and the opening of the registration system so that students can register.

Signed by the campaign’s deputy national coordinator, Isaac Ogunjimi, and national mobilisation officer, Adaramoye Michael, the group accused the institution’s Vice Chancellor, Prof. Abdul-Rasheed Na’Allah, of high-handedness for allegedly dismissing two union leaders for speaking out against the policy.

They accused the student union leadership of betraying them by refusing to speak up against what they dubbed the ‘commercialisation of education.’

Although Amazu was not the only one affected as there are many others like her, the group noted that her case highlighted the tragic consequence of the government’s commercialisation of education and its manifestation in soaring education costs.

They enjoined the institution’s management to ensure that Amazu graduated from the university, as she has already completed all academic requirements, including examinations and final year projects.

“Unfortunately, the students’ union leadership failed to protest the fee hike. Only two union officials, the director of socials, Cyprian Igwe and director of sports, Oladeru Olamilekan, who spoke out against the policy were allegedly rusticated,” the statement read in part.

But in a swift reaction, the director of public relations of the university, Dr Habib Yakoob, described the report as unfounded.

Yakoob, however, evaded questions on the alleged rustication of the two union leaders and the refusal of the vice chancellor to comply with the recommendations of the Senate committee on ethics, privileges and public petitions, which called for their reinstatement.

He said: “What I know for sure is that the university does not make pretences as to the fact that it wants to increase its fees. The last time that the university reviewed its fees, it was widely publicised on social media. Students responded and eventually, they understood why the review was done. So, the university does not increase its fees clandestinely; and if there are students who want to commit suicide based on this, I am not aware of that. What I know for sure is that our students have been going about their normal businesses and have largely paid their fees.”