Akeredolu’s policy on AAUA fee grossly misunderstood – Agagu
Ondo State Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Mr. Femi Agagu, on Wednesday, described the criticisms that had trailed the education policy of Rotimi Akeredolu led-administration by his opponents as dishonest and attempt to deprive the common people for political reasons.
“These critics have narrowed everything down to the fees payable at Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, thereby introducing sentiments and deliberately avoiding the truth,” Agagu said.
Continuing, Agagu, the younger brother of former State Governor, Olusegun Agagu, said: “In the specific area of tertiary education, Governor Akeredolu inherited two new Universities, the Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa and the University of Medical Sciences, Ondo.
“These are in addition to Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko and the Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo. Akeredolu had to choose between developing all of these institutions together or developing one or two at the expense of the others.
“Recall that his predecessor completely abandoned Olusegun Agagu University for eight years and went ahead to establish the University of Medical Sciences, Ondo, his home town. Akeredolu could have continued to ignore the Agagu University too and put the Medical University on hold.
“On the contrary, he towed the path of a statesman and instituted a regime of holistic development of all the four tertiary institutions. This has no doubt put a lot of financial burden on the State. It is also a well-known fact that the revenue accruing to the government has been declining for obvious reasons. These notwithstanding, the Governor decided to be developing all the institutions together.
“The decision to review fees payable at AAUA was that of the Governing Council and Management, and this was done not until other relevant stakeholders were engaged in dialogue. All that the Governor did was to ask the Governing Council of the University to inquire into what other state universities in the southwest were charging and ensure that they do not charge anything higher.
“This exercise was carried out with the consent of all stakeholders as earlier mentioned, including students and parents. By that adoption, the University has been able to supplement government grants to keep going. Even then, it is still in financial discomfort.
“It was in the midst of this that the Governor was informed that the fees at Lagos State University (LASU) was a little less than that of AAU, Akungba and so he directed the Governing Council of the University to see if it could bring their own fees at par with that of LASU. That explained the recent reduction that the Council eventually effected,” Agagu said.
Agagu said he was surprised when a prominent gubernatorial candidate claimed in a national TV station that the students of Akungba University were leaving for other universities due to high fees, citing an unnamed university in Ogun State as charging just N45,000.
“Of course there is nothing like that. For one thing, it is virtually impossible for students to change their university at will. The process of doing so can be very cumbersome. For another thing, to which universities were they changing when the Akungba fees is at par with its contemporary universities and in some cases lower?
“Akeredolu is a believer in free education. His administration has continued the Free Education Policy at the Primary and Secondary Schools in the State as agreed by all stakeholders at the Education Summit of 2017.”
Continuing, he said the need for parents to contribute more at the tertiary level to maintain high quality, for which Ondo State was known was also agreed at the Education Summit.
Agagu appealed to the opposition to be realistic and honest and stop deceiving the people with unrealistic promises in the area of education. “Education is virtually free in our primary and secondary schools now, even then Akeredolu has embarked on massive renovation of the schools and the construction of new classrooms in more than 700 schools.
“In addition, there are massive capital projects going on in all our tertiary institutions most of which have been completed and some commissioned. These are undeniable achievements as the evidence abound in our various communities. The opposition should stop denying the obvious and misleading the electorate. In education, Akeredolu has excelled,” Agagu said.