Story By Damilola Adekanlu
The Arole Oduduwa & Ooni of Ife, Ooni 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.
While unveiling the project at his Ile Oodua Palace, Ile-Ife, the Ooni announced current economic reality of the country, as the motivation behind his intention to assist the students return to school, expressing displeasure over poor conditions of some of the students in tertiary institution.
The African foremost monarch who said an average of N50, 000 tuition was targeted for about five million students for a period of four years explained that the payment of tuition for five million students would gulp N500billion yearly.
Ooni, who noted that youth emancipation and empowerment had been his focus, saying that Nigeria was sitting on the keg of gun powder if urgent step was not taken to address students’ problem.
“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 seated 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 ten 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 Ooni said.
On how funds will be generated for the project, Ooni, the Spiritual Head of Oduduwa Race worldwide revealed that individuals and organizations 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.” Ooni Adeyeye added.
On the prolonged Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike, he assured that it would soon be called off and it shall be for the best of Nigerians, saying Nigerian traditional rulers are fully aware of the talks ongoing between ASUU and the Federal Government to end industrial action.
“You will recall that we traditional rulers from across the 36 states of the recently held a meeting in Abuja on the state of the nation the communique of which I submitted 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.” Ooni Ogunwusi added.