The Nigerian government has said the federal government-owned universities remain tuition-free, describing as inaccurate the media reports suggesting the introduction of tuition by the institutions.
Many Nigerian universities owned by the federal government have, in the past few months, increased fees to be paid by students, leaving parents and their wards groaning.
For instance, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka; University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID), Borno State; University of Benin (UNIBEN), Edo State; Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU), Bauchi; Usmanu Danfodiyo University (UDUS), Sokoto, among others, have had their fees increased, some of them by more than 100 per cent.
Though the increment by some of these institutions predated President Bola Tinubu-led administration, many Nigerians have linked the decisions to the removal of subsidy on petroleum products.
This is coming when the petrol subsidy removal has increased the price of commodities in the country.
The development has also pitted many Nigerians against the government, accusing it of insensitivity.
‘Tuition still free’
But the government said on Wednesday that the increments were completely at the discretion of the university management.
The Special Adviser to the President on Special Duties, Communication and Strategy, Dele Alake, in a statement, said despite the increments in fees, students are not made to pay for tuition.
“The fact remains, and we have confirmed that these are discretionary charges by each university for hostel accommodation, registration, laboratory and other charges. They are not tuition fees,” he said in a statement.
“For the avoidance of doubt, federal universities in Nigeria remain tuition-free.”
He said President Bola Tinubu remains committed to ensuring that every Nigerian has access to quality tertiary education.
He said the Students’ Loans Act, recently signed by Mr Tinubu, will go into effect before September.
“The Federal Government will also strengthen other mechanisms to support indigent students,” he said.
But many Nigerians have described the Students’ Loans Act as unworkable, describing the conditions set to access the loans as ridiculous.