The Ooni of Ife, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II, on Thursday said he would be paying tuition fees of five million students across Nigerian universities as part of moves to address youth restiveness following the recent #ENDSARS protest.
The monarch set up a scheme christened ‘Ooni of Ife Tertiary Tuition Fund’, which he unveiled at his Ile Oodua Palace in Ile-Ife.
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“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,” he said.
The Ooni said the decision was to assist the youths given the current economic reality of the country.
He lamented that the conditions of some of the students in tertiary institution in the country was worrisome.
He said he targets at least N50,000 for about five million students for a period of four years, explaining that the payment of tuition for five million students would gulp N500billion yearly.
Ooni said youth emancipation and empowerment had been his focus and 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,” he said.
“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,’ the Ooni added.
On how funds will be generated for the project, Ooni revealed that individuals and organisations home and abroad would be contacted for donations to ensure the success of the idea.