A concerned citizen, Daniel Bott, has penned an open letter to the Governor of Plateau State, Caleb Mutfwang, addressing a critical issue faced by students at the University of Jos. Despite congratulating the Governor on his recent Supreme Court victory, Bott sheds light on the grave matter of students being denied the opportunity to write exams due to non-payment of increased school fees.
In the letter, Bott acknowledges the difficulties faced by the students, particularly the indigenes of Plateau State, who are unable to afford the three-fold increase in fees instituted by the University of Jos. He emphasizes the impact of economic downturn and the plight of students, many of whom come from farming backgrounds affected by violent attacks.
The heart of the matter lies in the first semester exams, which commenced this month. University authorities have prohibited students with outstanding fees from taking exams, potentially resulting in severe academic setbacks. Bott underscores the broader losses incurred, including transportation, accommodation, educational materials, and emotional resources.
Bott appeals to Governor Mutfwang to intervene by either paying the fees of the affected students or negotiating payment terms with the university authorities. Despite potential budget constraints, he believes prioritizing this issue will mobilize necessary resources. The letter recognizes the potential jurisdictional arguments but urges the Governor to focus on protecting the vulnerable citizens.
The concerned citizen concludes the letter with a plea for the Governor to utilize his office to bring relief to hundreds, even thousands, of frustrated students affected by the university’s rigid stance on fee payment.
Open Letter to HE Governor Caleb Mutfwang on the Denial of Students of the University of Jos From Writing Exams Due to Non-payment of School Fees
Written by Daniel Bott, a concerned Citizen,
I bring you fraternal greetings, hoping you are doing fine in body and mind. While I congratulate you on your victory at the Supreme Court, I would like to bring to your attention a matter that is of graver importance.
Thanks to social media, we can reach you directly without trying to wade through your thick and impervious protocol. We are now able to shout across the fence and hope that you can hear. I am hoping you would find 5 minutes to read this.
Last year, the University of Jos increased its school fees for undergraduate programmes from N45,000 to about N140,000, a three-fold increase. The student body tried to resist the increase but it was roundly subdued by the university authorities, in whose favour the balance of power of force and coercion reside. The resistance ended almost as soon as it started.
By failing to get the university to revert to the old fees, the students had indirectly agreed to pay this unaffordable fee. Some were able to pay, but a significant proportion were not.
Why should this concern you? Because most of those who were unable to pay are indigenes of the state, your citizens.
The downturn in the economy provides a generic reason why an upward review of school fees by the university is ill-timed, but there are specific reasons that pertain to the indigenes of the state.
Many of the students are either farmers themselves, or are supported by parents/relatives who are farmers. You would recall that the violent attacks on farming communities reached a crescendo at the start of last year’s farming season. This has prevented them from farming, from earning a decent living, and consequently, from paying their fees.
*The Issue, The impact*
First semester exams commenced this month but the university authorities have prevented those who have not paid their fees from writing exams. The implication of this, at the minimum, is that they would lose at least one semester; at worst, they could lose up to an academic year. But the losses are not limited to academic time. By not writing exams, they would have lost all the resources they mobilised and expended in the course of the semester: transportation, accommodation, educational material, emotional resources, etc.
What tragedy it would be for all of us to stand aside and watch our children, who against all odds have come all the way to the city to brighten their chances at a better life, suffer this moral injustice.
By refusing to allow students the opportunity to write exams this semester, the university has unwittingly profiled the poor and defenseless amongst them, and has decided to visit them with vicious, unconscionable wrath.
While it is not my intention to ethnicize or regionalize this problem, the fact is that those who are impacted more by the decision of the university are the poor and vulnerable indigenes of the state who are mostly victims of the mindless killings in their communities. This is textbook definition of double jeopardy: victimized and pauperized by insecurity, profiled and excluded by their school.
I have a simple request, Your Excellency. Can you intervene by paying the fees of these children? Some states (I know Kano and Kaduna, for now) have risen to the defence of its indigent undergraduates and have paid their fees upfront. I know there may be budget constraints but we know that if you consider this a priority, you would mobilize the resources to make it happen.
Even if the resources are not available, it is my believe, howsoever naive, that a phone call to the VC can go a long way in resolving the issue: let the children write their exams now, then payment terms can be negotiated later. The university authority would honour a promise that comes from you, I am certain.
At first glance, some may argue that the State government has no jurisdiction over the administration of a federal university. But I advice that you pay no mind to the arguments. Focus instead on protecting the weak amongst us. Since the university authority has decided to victimize the indigent population, your government should play it’s constitutional role of protecting it’s children.
Many of them have missed the some papers/exams already. There is remedy: make up exams can be arranged. This is within the remit of the university authority.
I conclude this letter with the words made popular by Tanya Stephens: “Any people who don’t spend enough to protect the poor won’t be able to spend enough to protect the rich.” We live in a connected social world where the haves and the have-nots share a common, complex destiny.
The system keeps generating embittered young people and this is a ticking time bomb. In your little way, even with limited resources, you can use our commonwealth to protect those that the Vice Chancellor of the the University through this anti-poor policy, has unwittingly excluded.
I pray that you you are able to use your good office to bring succour to hundreds, even thousands, of students who are frustrated by the school’s hard stance on this matter.