Open letter to HE Gov. Caleb Mutfwang on the Denial of Students of the University of Jos From Writing Exams Due to Non-payment of School Fees

By Dan Bott

18 Jan 2024

Introduction
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.

Background
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.

My Request
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 its 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.

Conclusion
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.

With respect,

Daniel Bott, a concerned Citizen,
rasdanbot@yahoo.com

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Open letter to HE Gov. Caleb Mutfwang on the Denial of Students of the University of Jos From Writing Exams Due to Non-payment of School Fees

| Education, Opinion |
About The Author
- Friday Bako is Certified National Accountant (CNA), Blogger, Social Media Influencer/Strategist, Youth Activist and Advocate for good governance.