Against the backdrop of the botched plans by telecommunications companies to review data tariff, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to reject unpopular policies that are likely to cast him as insensitive to the plight of less privileged citizens.
In a statement by its National President, Comrade Chinonso Obasi, NANS informed President Buhari that the plan to jack up the price of data is not only a black market attempt to tax all mobile phone users, but above all Nigerian students.
Obasi expressed regrets that Nigerian students, including those studying overseas have been subjected into harrowing experiences that threatens their academic pursuit, stressing that the recent move to descend heavily on data will definitely make research and communication very difficult for suffering Nigerian students.
Lamenting the series of traumatic experiences students have been made to grapple with, the NANS President noted that the hike in dollar rate caused by volatility of international oil market, recent strike action by the Academic Staff of Union of Universities (ASUU) and the delay in mobilisation of youth corps members make the data hike too much a burden to bear.
The NANS President observed that internet has become an indispensable companion of undergraduates to pursue extensive research in the competitive knowledge-based economy, adding that increasing the price of data would bind the hands of students and drive the back to the stone-age method of learning.
Expressing dismay that the NCC would be crying more than bereaved by suggesting the punitive rate to favour its so-called small operators to acquire market share and profitability, NANS said the commission lost sight of the economy of large scale the operators enjoy by greater penetration in Nigeria’s growing mobile internet access.
“Nigerian students wish to register their rejection of the plan by NCC to increase the price of internet data. We recall a previous attempt by the authorities to restrain access to the social media. But this latest plan to descend heavily on students through this backdoor taxation is an affront to scholarship and freedom of communication,” NANS stated.
NANS therefore pleaded with President Buhari to ensure that the attempt to punish Nigerian students does not see the light of the day, pointing out that even though taxation was a genuine way for government to generate revenue, it should not be done in such a way to kill the future generation.