Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The Bayelsa State Government Wednesday met with the leadership of tertiary institutions in the state, following widespread speculations that the six state-owned institutions had increased their schools fees.
At the meeting, the officials aligned with the state government that there had been no hike in the fees, noting that they were surprised as to where the rumours were coming from.
Wednesdayâ€™s denial also followed a statement by the leadership of all student bodies in Bayelsa that it had uncovered a plan to bring in â€˜mercenariesâ€™ into the state in the guise of protesting a purported hike in school fees paid by the state-owned Niger Delta University (NDU).
Coming under the umbrella of the National Union of Bayelsa State Students (NUBSS), the students said they were not aware of any increase in school fees by the authorities of the school and warned against any planned protest capable of disrupting the peace of the institution.
President of NUBSS Worldwide, Mr Ozu Important, blamed those he described as â€˜mischief makersâ€™ for the rumoured increase in fees in a statement in Yenagoa.
However, the officials made the clarification in a meeting presided over by the Chief of Staff, Government House, Mr. Talford Ongolo, which was also attended by the Commissioner for Education, Jonathan Obuebite; his Labour, Employment and Productivity counterpart, Chief Collins Cocordia and the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson.
Commissioner for Education, Obuebite, while speaking during the meeting, said he was not aware of any increase, stressing that the government would ensure a thorough implementation of the reforms in the tertiary institutions across the state.
Obuebite said while the government would sustain the policy of giving subventions to the schools, the institutions were also enjoying the necessary encouragement to boost their internally generated revenue in order to make them more independent.
Also in a statement wednesday, the state government urged Governing Boards and Councils of the various tertiary institutions in the state to take full responsibility for the affairs of the institutions and address the concerns raised by the various unions on the implementation of the reforms.
The Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Iworiso-Markson, said the call had become necessary following repeated requests on the government to intervene in a matter that is strictly within the purview and power of the governing boards to handle.
The government spokesman said it had become imperative for the governing boards to take full charge in the affairs of the institution and ensure a holistic implementation of the ongoing public sector reforms in the schools.
He stressed that the government decided to commit N630 million as subvention to the six tertiary institutions of the state as fall out of decisions reached during the meetings that subventions should be given to the schools in accordance with standard practice.
â€œIn those meetings, a decision was reached with a clear policy of placing the various tertiary institutions on subvention as is the norm everywhere especially as it relates to government funding of tertiary institutions.
â€œThe government spends a total of N630 million as subventions on various tertiary institution in the state the breakdown of which includes NDU: N350 million; Isaac Jasper Boro College of Education: N100 million; College of Health Technology Otougidi: N40million; The Polytechnic Aleibiri N50 million; University of Africa N75 million and International Tourism Institute N15 million.â€