The vice chancellor of university of Abuja, Prof. Abbdul Na’Allah has installed himself as an emperor at the university, setting a tense atmosphere at the school.
Na’Allah, a professor of Comparative Literature, served two terms as the vice chancellor of Kwara State University between 2009 and 2019.
He was appointed Vice-Chancellor of the University Of Abuja (UNIABUJA) in 2019.
After his appoinment, There was anxiety and optimism among students, but upon resumption, His actions have been autocratic rather than democratic.
A top source of the university who claims anonymity said “The government is to blame for whatever is happening at the university. The government is responsible for the appointment of Universities’ leadership and most times, they are selected based on party affiliation and not merit” he said
“ It’s a shame UNIABUJA is facing these kind of issues right now. It’s not only students that are affected, it cuts across the entire school system as these kind of policies are strange to us here”
Here are some of the contencious actions taken by Na’Allah upon resumption:
- Immediate increment in school fees
- Immediate increment of acceptance fees from N4,500 to N30,000
- Immediate increment of hostel accommodation fees (This has made most students relocate to off campus)
- Shuttle buses moving students between both campuses were stopped
Some others include;
- Upgrade of the school portal and appointment of portable managers and ICT operators in Ilorin, his home state ( students are made to call personnels in Ilorin whenever they have issues relating to the portal)
- Dissolution of the Students Union Government Executives and setting up a caretaker committee without a blueprint for elections
In February 2021, the Students of the University of Abuja staged a protest along the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Expressway and the entrance to the main campus against alleged hike in tuition fee and other issues.
The management of the school had promised to look into issues raised by the students, but the Vice Chancellor made a U-turn and dissolved the SUG executive due to what a close source refered to him as saying “ they are not loyal”.
On April 5th 2021, Students were shocked with a statement released by the Vice Chancellor which reads, ‘Anyone who has not registered his or her courses or having issues related to portal payment is not a student of the school. Therefore, the current session should be deferred. In addition to this, an ultimatum of three weeks was given from the 5th of April, 2021 for deferment; else, such students will be completely withdrawn.”
A 200 level student of the department of philosophy who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “I made my fees payments on Thursday May 21, 2020. Unfortunately, the school’s portal closed immediately making me unable to register my courses for year two. It is important to note that, this happened during the course of the 2020 ASUU strike as well as the lockdown which lasted for months. I immediately sought for help at the school’s I.C.T department, currently located at Zenith Bank, University of Abuja main campus. I was asked to continue refreshing the portal and was assured that the portal will eventually become available to register courses. “
“As a result of the lockdown, I could not make any report until March 2021. I was still assured at the ICT department that the problem will be rectified soon and I would be able to register my courses. Later that month, the portal was completely shut down.
Another student who spoke on this same development expressed frustration and anger at the school authorities.
“I paid my school fees on the 9th, of March, 2020. However, the portal closed immediately after my payment was made through Remita. This challenge made it impossible for me to print out my school fees receipts. My payment was then reflecting as ‘pending’. Within a short while, it disappeared from the site totally, as if I haven’t made any payment at all. The only evidence of my transaction with the school was the Remita slip containing the RRR.
“I went further to the School’s I.C.T where I was encouraged to be patient and that my payment will eventually reflect on the portal. To this day, nothing has changed”.
TWASC findings also revealed that some students are yet to pay school fees, while some others paid late.
A visit to the school’s ICT office saw one Mr Kingdom, a staff of the University’s I.C.T unit directing affected students to the office of the Deputy Registrar to state their complains.
All efforts to speak with him were fruitless as he declined an interview.
Over 400 students were seen lamenting and making different complaints at the office of the deputy registrar. A female staff addressed the students on the issue, advising them to comply with the VC’s directive.
As at the time of filing this report, a message sent to the school’s PRO mobile phone is yet to be responded to. With this new development, these students sent a mail to the address made available by the school for complains on school fees payments. There was no response, neither were changes made.
In addition to the challenges faced by students is a report from a 100 level student in Faculty of Arts,(Student’s Name and Department withheld). Her case is totally away from school fees payments and course registration challenges. She shared her story with TWASC.
“I successfully paid my acceptance fee and school fees before the pandemic. However, due to hitches with the portal, I was unable to convert my JAMB registration number into Matric number, a general procedure for first year screening exercise. This lingered all through the lockdown period. By the time school re-opened, I returned to the I.C.T unit to seek for help.”
“It became really complicated because the portal was closed and it was assumed that anyone who didn’t have evidence of his/ her payments or registration of any sort didn’t do it before the date of the portal closure. I then contacted Mr. Kingdom severally via phone calls, texts and physical meetings but it was all futile. When it was time for me to commence my semester exams in the University, I became worried, but was advised to use my JAMB registration number during my exams. This meant that, there was no course registration for first semester and I could barely prove that I have been offered admission into the school”
Currently, the young girl has been advised by the school to either defer the session too or sit for the next JAMB examinations and seek for another admission.
TWASC is calling on students who are affected with similar cases to send in their petition to our email address: firstname.lastname@example.org, as we do a follow up with the school authorities before the said date of deferment.