Fees crisis: Peace returns to DELSU after Okowa’s intervention
Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, yesterday, said he had intervened in the school fees controversy at Delta State University (DELSU), Abraka, with directive to the management of the university to liaise with the students’ union to bring down the fees to acceptable levels.
Okowa disclosed this after inspection of ongoing works at the University of Delta and the Trauma Centre, both in Agbor, Ika South Council.
The governor explained that the state government didn’t fix school fees for its institutions, but had to intervene in the crisis because of the current hardship in the country.
He said students of Delta State origin do not pay for tuition, but only for other development levies. He called on the people to show understanding with government, as fees could not remain the same over the years.
Okowa noted that fees being collected by the state-owned tertiary institutions were for some critical aspects concerning standards in the schools.
He said: “From the beginning, we made it clear that it is in the best interest of the state that we upgrade some of our institutions, and that we have done to ensure that our children have access to higher education.
“We are at very tough times in our nation now, but our students who couldn’t get admissions here have had to get admissions into private universities, where they pay over a million naira.
“Some have even left the shores of Nigeria to other countries whose standard of education are not up to what we have here and some to other West African countries where they pay a lot more.
“We are very mindful of this and appreciate the economic situation in our nation. We know that parents and students are struggling through, but we also want to be sure that the universities are maintaining a minimum standard, so that you don’t find yourself going through an educational institution and at the end you are not actually given the right academic capacity to be able to function outside the institution.”
Okowa disclosed that the state government pays the salaries and allowances of lecturers and other staff, noting that the universities should be able to handle their day-to-day running cost.
“Unfortunately, the power sector is not functioning properly and the universities have to run on generators and we all know what cost of diesel is now, with various forms of stationeries also needed in the universities.
“When you look at all these, they definitely need to find some means of being able to run themselves internally, not in terms of payment of their salaries.
“So, what the universities did is to have a readjustment of fees to meet current economic realities. It is not the state government, because we don’t fix fees for them.
“All I had to do was to get them along to talk with the student unions, but in talking with the student unions, they brought the values down and I don’t know what the values are at the moment. But I advised on the need to be responsive to the demands by the student unions.
“The student unions actually understand that the fees cannot remain the same way they were years ago. Even at that, what the fees were before they brought down the cost was still definitely lower than that of other state universities across this nation,” he added.
The governor expressed satisfaction with the level of work on the projects inspected, saying the contractors had promised to deliver the projects on time.
“It is our desire to provide a proper administrative building for the university and for the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, which were totally rehabilitated, because they were totally in bad shape and as you can see, students are already receiving lectures.
“There has been a lot of change at the University of Delta, Agbor, and it is our desire to improve on the level of infrastructure in the next one year,” he stressed.
On the Trauma Centre, Okowa commended the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for its partnership on the project, saying the centre would offer best services for all trauma cases within the area.