By Ekemini Raymond
The Students Union Government President of the University of Calabar, Comrade Ajang Emmanuel, has finally won the heart of the University management having persuaded them to effect reduction in the school charges for the current academic session.
He disclosed this to CrossRiverWatch, among other contending issues in the institution during a chat in his office recently.
Speaking, on what he described as ‘The journey so far’, he outlined the achievements recorded so far in his tenure as the SUG President of the institution.
On the hitherto increased school charges, he said “Just before the resumption, I had an information that the school management had plans to effect increment in the school charges, immediately I proceeded to meet with the principal officers of the institution to seek for clarification and the bases for the increments.
“They were all of the opinion that the only increment in the charges is the two thousand naira (N2,000) for National Health Insurance Scheme, (NHIS), introduced by the NUC, to all federal institutions. The position of the Union was that, if the NHIS fee will be introduced, the already existing medical fee should be extracted from the list of charges to be paid, and after much deliberations, the position of the Union was accepted by the management and the breakdown of the charges was presented to the Union for deliberations, and as we speak, the only increment in the school charges is N900 for the NUC students, occasioned by the NHIS fee.
“The CES students would have been the major victim, because their fee was to be increased by N5000, but the Union rejected the idea, knowing very well the hard times faced by the students, and the consequences the increase may have caused; tracing back to the historic August 2011 incident in the University, which was triggered by a similar action.
“As I speak with you now, after the final meeting we had with the management of the University on Tuesday, 7th April 2015,we agreed that they should be no increment in school charges for both NUC and CES students, meanwhile, additional N2500 reflecting in the charges is not part of the school charges, you must know this, but a portal charge since the University is opening a new portal, and that will only be included for one session, he concluded.
Another contending issue that he also addressed was the eviction of campus fellowships from their respective secretariats, which has been described by many as Anti-Christian and a prelude to increase in cult activities on campus.
Ajang said, the ejection of fellowships by the school management from their respective secretariats came as a result of the need to renovate the Union’s secretariat which different fellowships have been using as their respective centers of worship for the past years.
He said that, for the renovation work to continue effectively, there was a need for the ejection, and as soon as the work is completed, they may be re-allocation of the venue back to them. Meanwhile according to him, a temporal secretariat will be provided to all the ejected campus fellowships by the school management as soon as possible, so that the fellowship activities on campus can continue.
Speaking further, he ascribed the reasons for his administration’s seemingly slow pace in project execution to the delay caused by the management in approving the budget for the SUG.
According to him, “I want to make something clear, most persons who expect the SUG President to start execution of projects immediately he assumes power are ignorant of the fact that the system in place makes that impossible. Students Union Government administration is a bureaucratic system that follows a regular pattern year in year out, and most times it is difficult to work in such situation.”
Explaining further he said, “on assumption of office, the legislative arm of the Union has to be constituted and inaugurated, the budget needs to be prepared and presented to the Senate for ratification, the ratified budget will now be presented to the Dean of Students Affairs, who will now convene a Welfare Board meeting who will now re-scrutinized every item on the budget, and in turn produce a streamlined budget that will be presented to the Vice Chancellor for the final approval, and you can bear with me all these takes processes and time.” he added.
“It might interest you to know that the budget of my administration, which was presented on assumption of office by October 2014, finally got approval by the Vice Chancellor on the 20th day of February 2015, exactly 4 months into the administration, that means we had to wait for about four months before we started executing any project”, he concluded.
Despite the various setbacks, the administration according to him has been able to achieve the following, through the various offices in the Union: “Renovation of the Malabor walk way in both male and female hostels, purchase of new DSTV decoders and flat screen television to hostels, construction of about 15 SUG information boards, the inclusion of the NHIS scheme into the students welfare, organization of the Malabor world cup, and inter-faculty sport festivals.
“The students week festival and excursion to Obudu Cattle Ranch, the famous Mr/Miss UNICAL pageantry, Free HIV/AIDS counselling and testing to students among others. So, my brothers you can see with me that this government has done a lot, even within the short while in office, and we are still going to do more for Nigerian Students”, he concluded.
When asked about the position of the union on the recent list of suspended and expelled students from the University for various acts of examination malpractices, He said that the University has rules and regulations, which every student knows, and should try to observe them.
According to him, “Examination malpractice, is a serious offence and has its sanction, therefore anybody found guilty has his or herself to blame. The Union has little or nothing to do in regards to that, but I only sympathize with the victims as fellow comrades in the struggle.
“Finally, I wish to use this medium also to call on all the students and relevant stakeholders not to only sit back and criticized the administration, but to contribute their quota towards building better unionism on campus and a better Cross River at large”, he ended.
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