Re: Gov. Amosun, it’s time to eat the humble pie -By Barr. Taiwo Adeoluwa

Filed under: Political Issues |
Governor Ibikunle Amosun

Governor Ibikunle Amosun

 

My attention has been drawn to the piece, “Gov. Amosun, it’s time to eat the humble pie,” published in this column on Saturday, 22 August, 2015. The language employed by the columnist is shocking, to say the very least.

The article, with all due respect, is largely a product of lack of adequate information. With gusto and felicity, the columnist wrote:

“Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State took a swipe at some school officials for setting   what he described as an offensive English Language question for   public schools’ students in the state.”

“For highlighting an obvious phenomenon that the students could easily relate with, angry Governor Amosun   sacked all the top education officials involved in setting the question.”

These allegations and consequent derogatory attacks against the governor in the article would seem premeditated when viewed against the backdrop of the fact that the author should be very much aware of my press statement on the sanctioned education officials, published in The PUNCH four clear days before the piece under review.

The governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, did not at any time take “a swipe at some school officials for setting   what he described as an offensive English Language question for   public schools’ students in the state.” The writer may wish to inform the public where she got her information from.

By virtue of Paragraph 2, Part II, Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, the state governor, Ibikunle Amosun, could not have played any role in the disciplinary measures taken against the workers. At best, his role is nominal. Accusing the governor of sacking workers is like accusing the president of sacking judges! The process of sacking a civil servant is not as easy as the writer conveyed in her piece.

The constitution empowers the state Civil Service Commission to “(a) appoint persons to offices in the state civil service; and (b) dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over persons holding such offices. The governor, therefore, is not in a position to sack   “all the top education officials involved in setting the question,” as alleged. Consequently, the vituperation directed at Amosun in the write-up is totally unwarranted and misplaced.

The governor is a stickler for due process. He has not and will not interfere in the statutory duties of an autonomous body or agency of government.

Contrary to the impression created in the article, the Amosun administration is proud of its achievements in the education sector. We were not elected to solve ALL the problems in a sector that was in ruins for decades. It suffices to say that under the Amosun administration, primary school teachers receive salaries before all other workers. It was never the case in the history of the state.

The thousands of teachers due for promotion several years before Amosun came into government were promoted. Those whose careers stagnated since 2008 as a result of non-regularisation of their certificates got relief under the Amosun government.

The current administration does not only devote over 20 per cent of its yearly budget to education but pays N18,250 as minimum wage. The wage is implemented across board, and up to local government level, thus making Ogun the only state in Nigeria to do so. Notwithstanding the current financial challenges which have affected states and workers – indeed everyone – across the country, this is an iconic example of the worker-friendly nature of the Amosun government.

It is a known fact that the central government found it virtually impossible to devote up to two digits of its budget to education despite collecting 52 per cent from the Federation Account. Yet Ogun, which collects about 0.4 per cent from the same Federation Account, has consistently devoted over 20 per cent of its budget to education. It is somewhat ironic that about 80 per cent of that yearly budget to education in Ogun goes into payment of salaries and allowances!

The last time our people enjoyed free education was in the second republic. Today, in spite of the financial challenges in the country, education is free at the levels of pre-primary, primary and secondary schools. Education at the tertiary level is heavily subsidised.

When you consider the fact that an average family in Ogun State has children at the four levels of education at the same time, then you can appreciate the huge financial burden that has been lifted off the shoulders of these parents by the Amosun administration.

Within two years of introduction of free education by the Amosun government, enrolment figure for JSS rose from 174,820 to 214,837. The figure increased from 146,737 to 162,536 at the SSS level. Due to improvement in our technical education, some children now move from JSS to such schools while the majority proceed to SSS, which is a big plus for our drive in vocational/technical education. Expectedly, performance of our children in WASSSE has improved tremendously.

The many new structures in our primary schools including those with the inscription, ‘SUBEB 2008/2009’, were built under the Amosun administration. It was Amosun that paid the outstanding state’s counterpart funds for those years.

Hundreds of school buildings have been renovated, but the governor will not waste the scarce resources of the state to maintain buildings that ought to be demolished. Such buildings purportedly renovated in the past usually collapse during rainstorms causing deaths, injuries and destruction of properties. We will not deceive our people with cosmetic changes.

Four years before the current government was inaugurated, our children in the nursery schools got no furniture from government. But in less than three years of the Amosun government, they were provided with 3,200 chairs, 800 tables, 17,043 two-seater desks and 10,900 two-seater desks with shutters. 7,148 tables and 14,296 chairs were equally provided for their teachers.

Recently, the papers were awash with the news of the state owned university, Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU) emerging the best state varsity in Nigeria according to the ranking by the National Universities Commission. This was an institution that was not even considered at all for ranking by the regulatory body prior to the Amosun government as a result of the magnitude of the rot in the institution. If this is not a testament to the commitment of Governor Amosun to restoring the glory of the education sector, then we need another definition of commitment.

I recall the words of the then Nigerian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Dr. Dalhatu Sarki Tafida, when the wife of Ogun State governor, Mrs. Olufunso Amosun, led the 20 best WAEC students in the 20 local governments of Ogun State – all from public schools – on a two-week leadership training visit to Great Britain in November, 2012.

Said Dr. Dalhatu Tafida, “This is a laudable initiative that is worthy of emulation by other states in Nigeria. Let me state categorically that this is the first time ever that students are being brought to the United Kingdom on educational merits. We have had student excursions here and there. But this is the first time students who have performed excellently well in their West African Secondary School Certificate Examinations are being brought to the United Kingdom for the purpose of leadership training programme. Ogun State is taking the bull by the horns in preparing our youths for future leadership roles.”

What do all these say about the mindset of the government of Ogun State in relation to the education of its citizens?

What is more, the model schools being constructed by our government has both been a source of worry and envy to the private schools. Perhaps we should not say much about a project that will soon speak loudly for itself.

Of course, it is impossible to list the achievements of our government within this limited space. I must add that, Amosun, like our revered sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, is a man that is conscious of his place in history. People like that are men of vision who will devote their all to the welfare of their people.

 

Barr Adeoluwa is Secretary to the Ogun State Government

 

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