The Okezie Ikpeazu government has responded to the controversy surrounding a “pandemic prevention fee” reportedly levied on Abia State University (ABSU) students.
ABSU reportedly told returning students they would not be allowed back in school if they did not pay N15,000 meant to help them observe coronavirus protocol and keep students safe.
There were no indications that the amount, which was initially pegged at N25000, included COVID-19 testing.
Governor Ikpeazu has now responded by saying the move was a mere proposal that has now been scrapped. He also added that the government would now pay ABSU students N30,000 each.
Ikepazu announced the change in tone after meeting with stakeholders on Thursday.
“I had a town hall meeting with students and management of ABSU where a fee of N25,000 per student was proposed as medical fee but slashed to N15,000 to help ABSU put in place adequate measures to protect the soon to resume students from COVID-19 pandemic,” the governor said on Friday morning.
“In that same meeting, I approved immediate bursary payment to students of Abia origin in ABSU, to alleviate impact of COVID-19 on them and enable them meet the medical fee obligations with ease.
“However, after a deep review of the agreement and its likely effect all the students and their parents, I’ve directed the immediate scrapping of the ‘pandemic prevention fee’ by school management.
“Our government will now go ahead to pay N30,000 to each Abia student in the institution as further support to them, their parents and guardians in this very difficult moment of economic downturn caused by the global health crisis.
“Let me also add that we are proud of the progress made by the institution in the past five years and will continue to support them,” Ikpeazu said.