Professor Zacharys Anger Gundu, Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council of the Benue State University, Makurdi has taken to the social media to slam those he says are spreading distortions and marketing mischief regarding new rule books being asserted in the university. The university which commenced examinations on Monday was formally shut yesterday when the students said that they could not pay registration fees because their parents have not been paid salaries for eight months or so. Responding to the “No fees, no examination” stance of the university with the slogan “pay our daddy, we pay fees”, the situation was heading to tension point and the university had to be officially shut by Tuesday, February 20th, 2018 although most of the students living on campus have refused to leave.
Prof Gundu explained that he is reversing himself on temptations to governance of institutions on social media but that the social media offered him opportunity to explain issues to many people who might otherwise not be able to have quality information on the situation. According to him, the issue is that the council wants to take the Benue State University, (BSU) to international competitiveness and certain practices which were the norm can longer be allowed. “We are ready for these corrections and many require a change of attitude/orientation”, he said in the statement, pointing out how it is important to try new and better ways of doing things.
Dismissing delay in payment of salaries as the issue, the Pro-chancellor pointed out how refusal to follow best practices is the issue. He illustrates with the disinclination to register, saying that 5,638 out of a total student population of 25,282 undergraduate students between seven faculties have neither paid their student charges nor registered. Out of the remaining number, 13, 082 have fully registered and have paid ALL their students charges but 6, 562 of the figure who have paid their student charges have not fully registered.
Wondering how anyone could be a student in a university but refuse to register, Prof Gundu asserted how basic registration is in any university system worth its salt because it would, otherwise, be impossible to know how many credit units a student is taking in any semester and whether each student has met the minimum threshold for moving from one level to the other vis-a-vis graduating. “What is the difference between you and the person who comes from Wurukum (a hotbed of Makurdi township) to do the exams”, he asked.
Insisting that this is the sort of distortion the BSU management is out to correct, the Pro-Chancellor explains how messy and unacceptable the situation came to when ‘students’ were allowed to do what they wanted in the past because it was discovered that many at the end of their 400 level had not even got the minimum credit unit threshold to graduate except those he said were ‘smart’ enough to find ways of smuggling their names into the list of graduating students.
Touching what Intervention has understood to be the sensitive part of the council’s campaign because of the affordability issue involved due to accumulated non-payment of salaries in Benue State, the Pro-chancellor insists that “those who come to BSU as students must pay student user charges, they must also register because its only after registration that the system can consider them as students and treat them as such. This is fair enough. Anything else is anarchy”. Grounding his stand on how comparatively cheap BSU rates are, he asks: Where in the world can you train a student in the medical school for this sum of money in a session? ‘This sum of money’ refers to N70,000 charged students in the medical school in the university. Moreover, according to him, the Benue State Government was, until recently, giving the medical students N100,000 monthly allowance to encourage them to go through medical school.
Drawing attention to primary and secondary schools in Benue State that are charging higher fees than BSU and where virtually everyone has children as well as public and private universities in other parts of the country charging much higher fees “with our children attending and paying”, Prof Gundu wonders why anyone would want to destroy “our only university?” The Visitor to the university, he said, had singled out the institution for priority treatment, ensure that salaries are up to date and arrears are also flowing as best as possible and there is no basis for any sane person to want to disrupt such efforts. If it is politics, he does not understand what type of politics that might be.
Sounding off, the Pro-chancellor says “We want every stakeholder to help us to correct the distortions at BSU. While the university remains closed, Senate has been mandated to meet and review the issue to ensure we return to normalcy as soon as possible. We will work towards a win-win situation and we appeal to parents to impress on the few students who are still in the hostels to vacate the hostels because the school has been closed”. He is, therefore, asking parents to pick up their wards and those with influence on the leadership of the students to assure them that the university management means well and the issues will be resolved with speed to enable it resume with the examinations.