The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, on Wednesday unveiled an education Trust Fund named: ‘Ooni of Ife Tertiary Tuition Fund,’ targeted at paying tuition fees of five million students across Nigerian varsities.
Unveiling the project at his Ile Oodua Palace, Ile-Ife, the monarch stated that the current economic reality in the country was the motivation behind his intention to assist the students to return to school. He expressed displeasure over poor condition of some of the students in tertiary institutions across the country.
The foremost monarch who said an average of N50,000 tuition fee was budgeted for about five million students for a period of four years, explained that the payment of tuition for five million students would gulp N500 billion yearly.
Oba Ogunwusi, who noted that youth emancipation and empowerment had been his focus, said that Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gun powder if urgent steps were not taken to address problems affecting the students’.
“I am putting together Education Trust Fund to support what the government is doing. We are not all safe. We have to cut our social activities and focus more on youth empowerment. It is better to stay and fix this country than to be running out of the country.
“We are sitting on a keg of gunpowder, if we do not look at how best to assist our youths, I have said it before and I will keep saying it; we all have a feel of their anger during the #EndSARS protests, we must begin to engage them productively.
“The COVID-19 has made many youths and their parents to be jobless, while the current recession in the country’s economy is another blow which has made the youths to be the most vulnerable group in Nigeria.
“We have between seven to 10 million of them in Federal Tertiary Institutions and they need to pay close to N500 billion in tuition fees in January, 2021. But how would this demand be met when the bulk of the parents of these students are petty traders, peasant farmers and other average Nigerian parents who might not be able to get the needed fees to return to school. That is the reason behind the project.
“Earlier before now, I have personally assisted many in paying tuition fees, vocational trainings and other empowerment initiatives but I have come up with this to bring more beneficiaries on board,” the monarch said.
On how funds would be generated for the project, Ooni, the spiritual head of Oduduwa race worldwide revealed that individuals and organisations home and abroad will be contacted for donations to ensure the success of the lofty idea.
“I am appealing to all our people to let us come together and achieve this for our youths. I am promising that everything will be counted for to the last kobo while details of beneficiaries would be verifiable for accountability,” Oba Ogunwusi said.
Speaking on the nine-month strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) , the monarch assured that it would soon be called off and it shall be in the best interest of Nigerians. He said Nigerian traditional rulers are fully aware of the ongoing talks between ASUU and the Federal Government to end the strike.
“You will recall that we traditional rulers from across the 36 states of the country recently held a meeting in Abuja on the state of the nation and I submitted the communique to President Buhari in my capacity as Co-chairman of the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria, on behalf of others.
“It is part of it and I wish to assure you that the Federal Government and ASUU are almost done resolving the grey areas,” Oba Ogunwusi added.