Despite the restiveness known with Jos, the capital city of Plateau State, North-central Nigeria, the management of the University of Jos (UNIJOS) has proposed a 100 per cent increase for hostel accommodation charges on the campus.
Students have kicked against the proposal, even as they request more hostel facilities on the campus.
The proposed increment is contained in an internal memo from the office of the vice-chancellor, Tanko Ishaya, and addressed to the office to the acting dean of students’ affairs.
The memo, which is titled; “Re: Proposal for the Review of Accommodation Charges,” and signed by the principal assistant registrar in the VC’s office, Zendi Mikuk, has gone viral among students, raising fears that more students will be forced to live outside the campus where they stand a risk of being attacked should there be an uprising in the town again.
However, the university management has said nothing is concluded on the matter yet, saying it is still a proposal and that whatever is decided will be communicated to the public as soon as done.
If the proposal is approved, the 100 per cent upward review means that hostels like Naraguta and Zion Hostels which were previously N30,500 per year will now cost N61,000 per academic session.
The university’s decision is coming at a time when there are increasing calls for the provision of accommodation to cater for more students.
Students, for years, have been victims of recurrent violence in the restive Jos North LGA where the university is sited and where most students who live off the campus live.
In 2019, at least four students of the institution were reported killed during the restiveness in Jos, leading to a panicky evacuation of students by various state governments and disruption of academic calendars.
Another round of crisis engulfed the city in August 2021, and the university is yet to fully recover from the impact of the conflicts.
Another concern is a possible protest by students. Past experiences have shown that students would not swallow such decisions without protests. It was the same experience in 2017 when school fee was increased and the students’ response led to the suspension of students’ union activities by the school management.
A student-led advocacy and research group, Unijos Voices, had also, at the inception of the administration of the incumbent vice-chancellor’s administration, recommended the “provision of sufficient hostel accommodation on campus,” saying doing so would mitigate the impact of the crises on the students of the university.
With the planned increase of accommodation fees, there are fears that this would push more students to stay off the campus, leaving them vulnerable during uprisings.
Students’ union kicks
Meanwhile, the president of the student union on the campus, Joseph Adankala, said the planned increase was unacceptable, insisting that the socio-economic realities do not justify the university’s decision.
He added that the students union has set up a seven-man committee to “seek the reversal of the proposed increment to its initial fee.”
“This is unacceptable because at a time like this, with difficult economic challenges in the country, we will expect that the school management is considerate and does not add to the existing burden our parents already carry,” Mr Adankala said.
The union president went further to describe the proposal as a “vein piercing shock and a melancholic dismay,” adding that; “We (the union) will approach the school management and discuss our plights to find a lasting solution to this problem.”
Situation still under review – University
When PREMIUM TIMES reached out to the university’s deputy registrar in charge of information and publication, Abdullahi Abdullahi, he said no decision has been made yet and that the proposal is still under review.
He said: “It is an internal memorandum and it is not meant for the public. The proposal is still under review, and a decision has not been reached by the university.
“Whatever decision taken by the management will be communicated to the public.”
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