Gov. Uzodimma and the burden of school fees in IMSU By Peter Dibia

Victoria Adaobi Obasi

One of the greatest quotes of John F. Kennedy was “Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation”.
Mary Parker Follett’s Creative experience (1924) said: “the essential aim of the most democratic movements we have is to train ourselves, to learn how to use the work of experts, to find our wills, to educate our wills, to integrate our wills….it is of equal importance with the discovery of facts to know what to do with them..in politics we do not keep these different kinds of information apart…”
Furthering, if higher education is to become a civic learning organization, it will mean giving conscious attention to the public and productive qualities of the creation and diffusion of knowledge. Putting the “public” back into public universities means multiplying public spaces, where people with diverse views can wrestle with controversial issues. It means keeping knowledge creation public, open, and accessible – resisting trends towards the privatization and patenting of knowledge.
Having given the alluded points as my analogy, Imo State university, Owerri being the only State institution in Imo State, must as a matter of urgency be purged and cleansed before His Excellency’s effort to revamp the institution will yield positive results. If we must grow beyond this level in education in Imo State, we must as a matter of fact invest so much in education, comparatively to beat other governors, whom records and findings have shown their neglect in education sector in their jurisdictions. In Imo State, there are well established schools, two Federal Universities, namely: Federal Polytechnic, Nekede, Federal University of Technology, Owerri while other schools include, Imo State University, Owerrri, Imo State School of Public Health Nursing /CHO, Owerri, Imo State, Imo State College of Health Umuagwo, College of Health, Obowo and School of Nursing and Midwifery, Aboh Mbaise. These schools in one way or the other have contributed massively to the education of Imo people and beyond. Well, that is a story for another day.
On Friday 12th June, 2020, being the day earmarked by the President of Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari to celebrate Democracy Day all over the federation. While addressing Imo State stakeholders at Art Nouveau events center, Owerri, the Governor of Imo State Most Distinguished Senator Hope Odidika Uzodimma told all that the education sector in Imo State will be revamped and that it is going to be a win win system where parents, students and government will enjoy good quality education at affordable price. This only made me to return home that day happy. But Your Excellency, remember you don’t put a new wine in an old wine skin, because its test will be corrupted.
If the revamping of Imo State University (IMSU), Owerri will be possible, there is need Your Execellency for total purging and sanitization of the school system, just like the recommendation of the Prof. Chinedu Nebo Visitation Panel.
Your Execellency, I am a little bit worried about the future of the institution, if the wrong person is allowed to be the Vice Chancellor of the institution. Your Excellency it will interest you to know that, sometime in 2018 IMSU students were sent back to the school from the orientation camps of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) across the federation as, a result of statement of results issued to them by the IMSU, which the school authorities referred to as temporary results. That made NYSC to delay the school’s graduates from going to service the next year. I have no doubt that you are in a hurry to revamp the decayed educational system in the state. But Your Excellency there are things I would like you to know. Yes, IMSU students are said to have been enjoying free education. However, Your Excellency the students pay a lot of fees in the institution, which when looked at critically, one can comfortably say, “there is no free education in IMSU”
IMSU students, after graduation, that is after their final year exams are expected to have returned home joyfully to inform their parents that they have finished schooling. But the reverse is the case. Why? The students will be required to do their clearance in the university. While doing the clearance, you will purchase the clearance form which is N2000, including bank charges. let’s assume that in 2019 there were 10,000 students that graduated from different departments. That means N2000 multiplied by 10,000 students will give N20,000,000. After you have purchased the clearance form, you will still pay for the following: the 19,500 school fees, as an indigene while none indigenes pay according to their departments, from N100,000 and above;
project binding which is N7,700, plus N550 bank charge;
Results verification and accreditation fees, N6000, plus N550 bank charge;
Statement of results, which is N20,000, plus N550 bank charge;
Convocation fees of N30,000 plus N550 bank charge;
WAEC verification of N2000, including N1000 recharge card.
Students ID of N2000, paid directly to the office of the Dean, Students Affairs, IMSU;
Medical fees of N2,600, if your green card got lost, after your year one.
At this point, permit me to also state that the clearance has some space where the students visit different offices to process it, before the school clears you. At the various offices, the students will pay nothing less than N1,000.
The students and their parents will only be worried if the free education is eventually stopped, as recommended by Prof Chinedu Nebo Panel report. But Your Excellency I thank God for bringing you to Imo State in a time like this. Your Excellency, the students of IMSU are paying so much in some areas. Apart from the N19,500 school fees, there are faculty dues, departmental dues. The worst of it all is buying of textbooks. Do you know that in some departments, lecturers do not come to lecture hall until a week or two weeks to exams, just to introduce and sell textbooks attached with assignment. IMSU has a book shop but no lecturer takes his or her textbooks to bookshop for the students to buy. They only sell their text books through the Course Reps, where the class captain will increase the textbook price just to get money from his fellow students. All these are some issues that need to be taken care of before the appointment of the new Vice Chancellor of the institution, who will continue from where Professor Victoria Adaobi Obasi stopped.
Many will be wondering why am calling for the total purging of Imo State University, Owerrri. Let me, at this juncture, remind us or bring to us the recommendation of Professor Chinedu Nebo Panel Visitation Panel. The plethora of issues highlighted in Professor Nebo’s Executive Summary are: falsified age claim, need for ICT compliant personnel, especially by the principal officers, digitization of the Institution, succession based on academic excellence and passion to deliver rather than being parasitic to the school, implementation of summary petitions, and shortfalls in school fees collected from students.
Others include: mismanagement of the Bursary Department, coupled with unchecked loss in Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), lack of knowledge of the exact number of students, over bloated salaries of some workers, need for forensic audit etc., to properly reposition the University. Let me at this point analyze a little the sources of internally generated revenue in IMSU.
Please note that IMSU wage bill is almost N300million monthly.
Undergraduate none indigenes fees are as follows:
College of Medicine -N190,000; Basic Medical Science -N180,000;
Health Science -N180,000; Law – N180,000; Engineering-N180,000; Architecture -N180,000. These fees are being collected currently from none indigenes in the school while other Faculties/Departments in Environmental Sciences pay N150,000.
Ancillary fee for indigenes is N29,500.
Tenece added N10,000 to the ancillary fee as directed by the VC in 2019 in addition to the N19,500 the students paid.
It will please me to reveal that Tenece Company is the one that manages the payment medium of Remita and Interswitch and so every payment must go through their channel. Your Excellency, the work they do can be done by ICT directorate of the school with better transparency and without consultancy charges.
Other avenues through which IMSU generates revenue include
ICEP students who pay N100,000.
Like wise the Ph.D students pay N167,750;
M.Sc – N157,750;
PGD – 127,750.
The above exclude PRE-DEGREE, SAND WICH, JUPEP AND OTHER IMSU AFFILIATED OUTREACHES.
Most of the lecturers who are meant to be promoted from one level to another as civil service rules demand, are not promoted. Politics has permeated the school system. Lecturers who started from Graduate Assistants, after some years are expected to move from Assistant Lecturer to Lecturer 2, then to Lecturer 1, Senior lecturer, then Professor. But many promotions are seated upon by previous present administration. I remember during my predigree days, I usually saw students being afraid of examination misconduct form but all those ethics have been swept under the carpet. No more discipline. Yes, am not saying that there are no good students or lecturers but the corruption in the school system is much and as such needs an urgent attention and total cleansing.
I can make bold to say, If the revamping of the school will be possible, Your Excellency you must consider carefully all the Professor Chinedu Nebo Panel report and all I have written above. Indeed you have shown your leadership prowess within this short period of time. Imo State is now hopeful.

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