NYCN’s Dan Obo Speaks on UNICAL School Fee Increase and Security Concerns

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CalabarIn a media interaction on Tuesday in Calabar, Comrade Dan Obo, the State Chair of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) in Cross River, shared insights on the recent school fee increment at the University of Calabar (UNICAL) and the potential security threats it poses. Obo addressed concerns about protests, their sponsors, and the role of the Student Union Government (SUG) in negotiating for students NEGROIDHAVEN has garnered.

Obo began by highlighting the precarious nature of protests in the state, emphasizing the risk of them being hijacked and leading to unintended consequences. He disclosed that there were efforts to mobilize students for protests and warned against actions that might result in damages, with the ultimate burden falling on the students themselves.

Expressing his stance on the school fee increase, Obo acknowledged that while demands for fee reduction were valid, absolute opposition to any increase might not be realistic, especially considering the economic challenges facing various institutions. He noted that several universities nationwide had increased fees, making it a broader issue beyond UNICAL.

In response to questions about steps taken to address the concerns of UNICAL students, Obo clarified that as a youth leader, he intervened to prevent further escalation of the situation. He emphasized the need for dialogue and negotiation between the student body and the university management, pointing out that protests might not be the most effective means of resolving the issue.

Regarding the sponsors of the alleged protests, Obo was cautious, stating that while he had heard of attempts to mobilize students, he couldn’t directly accuse anyone, emphasizing the importance of preserving the state’s security. He urged against individuals using their influence to manipulate institutions for personal gain.

His words, “When we say the protest is political. See, let me tell you. In Cross River State today it takes God’s grace to gather students to go and protest. I’m a unionist. They have instilled so much fear in the students to the extent that on their own students cannot come out to say they want to protest. If not, why did the previous government left with our money for bursary?

“My own position is that the SUG president said he did not go out for the protest so we did not know who went. Does that not call for concern? So who led the protest? If I do not lead any protest for the well-being of young Cross Riverians and then another person leads it, it then becomes a sponsored protest.”

On criticisms suggesting that the SUG might be influenced by UNICAL’s management, Obo countered that the student body elected their representatives, and if they were dissatisfied, it was within their power to elect leaders aligned with their interests.

When asked about the overall security situation in Cross River, Obo stressed the need for strengthening institutions rather than relying on individuals, including political leaders, to address issues. He called for a more robust Student Union Government capable of negotiating on behalf of students.

In his concluding remarks, Obo urged for a holistic approach to addressing challenges in the education sector, emphasizing negotiation and collaboration between students and management.

“To me, I believe that anywhere there’s no roundtable discussion, particularly in the context of our country, we must be running into trouble. Management has to look at the plights of the students from issues of insecurity to issue of school fee increment. But this cannot be looked at by protest. Please go into negotiation. Use every relevant stakeholders and authority and go into negotiation. The management is human, and management should be human enough to look at the plights of the students. That’s our position.”