On Task-force Intervention in Response to the Excessive Service Fees Imposed by Campus Vendors: Challenges and Achievements


Agnes Oyedokun and Opemipo Olukoga

Over the last year, Nigerians have experienced a number of cash scarcity that have forced them to lean more towards cashless payment methods, especially mobile and card payments, during transactions. This situation, which might have come to stay especially considering the implementation of Nigeria’s cashless policy by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), is one that Nigerians have had to adjust to since the first cash crunch in January 2023. It is no different in the University of Ibadan as students have had to make purchases with bank/mobile transfers and card payment options. However, a problem they have been facing is the high service charges imposed on them by vendors on every cashless transaction, transforming this slight inconvenience into a persistent financial challenge for students still grappling with survival.

Continually, students have made complaints about vendors making use of POS terminals, adding extra charges, while students patronise their businesses. They attribute it to “bank charges”, referring to hidden transaction costs that surpass the minimal fees imposed by online banks like Palmpay and Opay— mere fractions compared to the routine 50-200 Naira charges faced by students— by a significant margin.

This issues prompt questions such as: What steps has the Host-led administration taken to address this? Who is responsible for campus regulation? How long will this exploitation persist?

In a Press conference held two weeks ago, involving the Student Union executives and campus journalists, the UI SU House Secretary, Oluwole Ayomide Joy, disclosed that a stakeholders’ meeting had been held, with a task force assigned to oversee and regulate service charges. Despite this, many students claim not to have observed this group in action. The key question revolves around whether these students are less attentive or maybe there’s an absence of visible changes regarding this matter.

Adeoye Daniel, a 200 level student of the Faculty of Social Sciences, one of the few aware of the task force, mentioned that the Hall Chair of his hall of residence collaborates with the task force to control fees related to purchases made through bank transfer methods.

He said, “I heard of the task force. In fact, the Chairman of Nnamdi Azikwe hall, Adeniji Uthman Akanbi (Yamburger) has directed everyone not to pay more than 10 naira on transactions less than 1,000 naira. However, I don’t know the membership of the task force or their composition. It was Yamburger that gave the feedback of the decision taken by the taskforce. I don’t know how effective it has been so far because I haven’t resumed school.”

Reportedly, a team was chosen after the stakeholders meeting last semester to manage service charge regulation on campus. However, a pressing query remains: What achievements can be attributed to this task force? Have they proven effective?

Doubts surround the effectiveness of these task force members as a majority of students assert not having seen any of them, particularly those residing on campus. Nevertheless, Hall Chairpersons in various halls affirm that some task force members are indeed active, even if students may be unaware of their efforts.

Adeniji Uthman Akanbi, popularly known as Yamburger, Nnamdi Azikwe Hall Chairperson, asserted that there had been cases whereby this issue has been ongoing in his hall but the task force has been effective with market visitation, assessment of commodity prices and review.

“The problem of vendors overcharging students for transfer fees existed before my tenure as Chairman. Many were collecting 20 naira for transfers, prompting our intervention. At Zik, we had a meeting with vendors last year, establishing a price regulation committee to address the issue. Since then, the problem has been managed. The task force, formed concurrently, has been effective, conducting monthly market reviews. We’ve had meetings with shop-owners and vendors after this market review to update them about the proposed price and recommendation from the Students’ Union.”

The task force is reported to regularly visit markets, assessing commodity prices and presenting their findings in meetings to determine if and how these prices should impact vendors’ pricing on campus. While these trips have shown effectiveness, the frequency is crucial, given the weekly rise in commodity prices due to the national economic inflation. Factors such as stress and transportation costs may also impact the regularity of these market visits and, consequently, the overall functionality of the task force.

Though the task force members were active during the first semester, it remains uncertain whether to anticipate a balance in functionality or further changes this semester.

Furthermore, Ogunremi Samuel, the Chairperson of the Great Independence, confirmed the efficiency of the task force members since the previous semester.

He said, “The issue gained prominence unexpectedly because I wasn’t aware it affected other halls. While the push for rate reduction wasn’t a major concern in my hall, where we had already agreed on free transfers, we decided on a 20 naira transfer fee for purchases over 1000 naira. I became involved when I heard about the Student Union forming a body. Our hall, along with others, joined the task force, ensuring representation from each residence. Our primary actions involved making the task force known, sensitizing students, and encouraging them to report any unauthorized charges. The ultimatum was to boycott vendors who refused compliance, but they cooperated, bringing about peace since then.”

Nevertheless, it has been revealed that certain halls have not experienced the positive impact of this task force, with students still asserting their lack of awareness about its members.

Olabanji Olaniyan, the Mellanby Hall Chairperson, confirmed that he and other executive members have established a committee to address the ongoing issue of extortion on campus.

“We view the service charges as unnecessary, considering banks already debit students during transfers. Many vendors use virtual banks, providing no compelling reason for imposing these charges on transfer fees. My executive council and I established a Price Control and Enforcement Regulation Committee. We held a meeting with hall stakeholders and vendors, announcing the removal of these charges. However, recognizing charges on POS transactions beyond the school, we opted to add a 10 naira charge for all transactions instead of eliminating it. In my hall, there’s no task force; we formed a committee, and it’s been operating effectively.”

While these claims indicate the task force committee members are actively working to prevent the ongoing issue, there is a call for increased action and student awareness on campus. It’s reasonable that hall chairs and vendors are informed about the task force, but it’s unfair that the committee and hall executives haven’t communicated their efforts effectively to students as they should.

Moreover, the effectiveness of the task force should extend beyond halls of residence to include areas outside the halls where shop vendors utilize POS terminals or might demand transfer charges. It is crucial to establish a price list that is consistent across all vendors’ shops. This matter demands thorough attention, and issues like these should not be overlooked.

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