The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Agriculture Umudike (MOUAU), Abia State, Professor Maduebibisi Ofo Iwe, has dropped a bombshell, saying that students squander their school fees on sports betting.
Speaking at a press conference in Umudike, the VC said that “parents would be shocked” to learn that their children and wards instead of using the money given to them to pay their school fees, diverted the funds to betting.
He was explaining the reason many MOUAU students were caught up in the “no fees, no exam” policy of the institution which resulted in their exclusion from the first semester examinations of the 2023/2024 academic session.
The controversial policy had provoked a violent protest on Tuesday prompting the management of MOUAU to shut down the university and suspended the ongoing examinations and other academic activities.
Prof. Iwe justified the exclusion of indebted students from writing the semester examinations, insisting that students invested their fees in betting with the hope of using their winnings to pay the fees later.
“If you allow them, they will never pay,” he insisted, adding that students would dodge paying the school charges and then forge receipts and bank remita, adding that they also use their fees “for illicit and immoral activities”.
“Is it a matter of wickedness and affront that people should resume studies without paying for it?,” he queried, adding, “one wonders why any human being should support such an evil, especially at a time when fortunes of the Nigerian Universities have dwindled.”
The MOUAU VC said that the ongoing AFCON tournament has heightened the betting frenzy among students hence those yet to pay their fees didn’t deserve sympathy.
According to him, 13,898 or 70 per cent of the 16,759 students population had already paid their fees and completed the requisite biometric capturing and were writing their exams when “miscreants and hoodlums” started “a riot”.
The VC absolved the students union leadership of any involvement in the violent protest, claiming that it was “instigated by one radio station here in Umuahia through its “inflammable” phone-in programme on Tuesday morning.
He refuted reports that management hiked charges to as high as 60 per cent, saying that the increment in the various fees was an average of 25 per cent and the students’ leadership were carried along in the decision.
Iwe explained that the introduction of the biometric capturing of students by his administration was necessitated by the need “to solve several problems confronting the integrity of examination and service delivery to our raduands.”
He also stated that biometrics was “deployed to stop impersonation in examinations, the adventure of missing scripts of students during and after examinations and it is linked to timely examination processing and transcript release.”
“My administration decided to confront these anomalies, provide relief to our students, graduands, as well as parents and sponsors,” he said.
However, the VC regretted that “those who are working against (the new policy) are unfortunately among the academic staff and Registry staff who want the status quo to continue in corruption and making of bad name for the university.”
He lamented that MOUAU like other universities was passing through hard times and it was becoming increasingly difficult to provide services to students as well as other academic obligations.
“We have done everything possible to provide good environment and facilities for our students in the last years. Even when the funds were not there, we borrowed and engaged in advocacy of good will and God has been on our side,” the VC said.