Saturday, March 17, 2012
Built With Our Sweat, We Can't Afford Church-Owned University - Poor Members Cry Out
Bowen University – N650,000, Covenant University – N640,000, Benson Idahosa – N500, 000, Babcock University – N450, 000, Redeemers University – N375, 000, Ajayi Crowther University – N350, 000, Fountain University, Oshogbo – N320,000
Samuel Alayande had worked more than half of his life for his church. Not because he had the calling, but he chose to be dedicated in any church activity.
He and his wife whom she married in the church were never found wanting in any church activity.
Just as they made donations to keep the church activity afloat, they gave their energies for any labour required in the church.
They considered whatever service as necessary not only for spiritual gain but also for the expansion of the church. The church then decided to own a university, members contributed hugely with every remaining kobo in their pockets. Alayande, like other poor members gave N9 out of every N10 he had.
Apart from giving his meager earnings in offerings, tithes and donations to the church in order to bring the project to fruition, he and members of his family worked tirelessly for the project. They cleared the bushes, they toil the ground during the foundation process, carried blocks, carried bags of cements just to ensure the project came to lime light.
Few years after, Alayande’s sons and daughters who grew in the church could not study in the church-owned university because their parents could not afford the huge fees charged by the institution they helped to build. Alayande’s case typifies one of the several cases of how the poor is massively working for the rich.
It is no news that several church-owned universities were built on the donations, offerings and tithes from the poor members of the church. Even when they had no more money to put into the construction, they gave their sweat and toil; doing all kinds of manual labour to actualise the completion of what they often refer to as their own universities.
Yet, these people, after the completion of the project, can’t afford the fees, they can’t have their children trained in the universities they helped to build.
Ironically, the manipulation of the poor continues even as their regular offerings and tithes are used to service the day to day running of these institutions that have become the exclusive preserve of the rich.
In spite of the phenomenal rise in the number of private universities in the country, not less than N1million is paid yearly by parents who have their children in these private universities. How many of the poor members of religious bodies can afford this huge amount to have their children trained in these institutions for at least four years?
Bolaji, a young brilliant chap with excellent JAMB and Post-UME results which qualified him to study medicine had his hope of studying in the university owned by his church dashed merely because his parents who are members of the church could not afford the fees.
Another young man also lamented why he had to leave a particular church as a result of what he described as injustice – taking from the poor to give to the rich.
“So can you explain to me why I shouldn’t leave the church? Why should I continue in that deceit? How has it changed and affected my world? Why are these church-owned universities unaffordable to the common man? I pay my tithe, my church builds a school, but I can’t afford to send my child to that school. They made it only for the rich when the poor contributed more to the school. It is ridiculous,” he said.
Just as others grumble in silence on the trend of funding a church-owned university but can’t benefit from it, others believe that tithes and offerings are commandments from God and should be obeyed.
They believe the reward is in heaven as they continued to donate generously from their meager resources whether they can afford to send their children to the school or not.
Saturday Vanguard gathered that from the beginning, church members were mobilized to the sites to help in construction work, carrying blocks, clearing bushes and doing all kinds of manual labour. Most of the foundation projects were completed on internally generated human and material resources.
But how would the church members who have contributed spiritually, financially (no matter how little), and sometimes through labour (physically) and cannot afford the high fees charged by their church-owned universities be compensated?
How would the church entrench the much needed sense of belonging for the universities built with the sweat and toil of poor members even if they try to justify that university education cannot come cheap. Something obviously needs to be done to correct the anomaly.