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8.6m out-of-school children statistics is fake, deceptive –ASUU President

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The President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, is unhappy with the country’s dependence on foreign nations for direction on socio-economic policies and actions. In this interview with MOJEED ALABI, he speaks on the current figure of out-of-school children, poor budgetary allocation to education and the need for alternative to the Nigeria’s leadership.

 

 

The Federal Government has just confirmed UNESCO’s new 8.6 million statistics of out-of-school children from the earlier 10.5 million. Doesn’t this sound good for Nigeria’s education sector?

Nigerians must not be deceived by this new statistics. We must see it as part of the game of deception going on; they want to use fake statistics to placate Nigerians and advertise themselves as a progressive leadership. So, forget all the statistics being bandied around, they are fake and are meant to placate the people, especially at a time the general elections are around the corner.

The reality does not support the reduction in the number of out-of-school-children. If you ask me, I will tell you we cannot have less than 15 million Nigerian children, who are out-of-school. All the indices support this fact. For instance, even South-West that is not confronted by the menace of Boko Haram insurgence and the large scale herdsmen attacks as witnessed in the north is also not free from the scourge of out-ofschool children.

It is unfortunate that this is a region that used to be at the vanguard of free and compulsory education. Today, if you walk the streets of Lagos, Osun, Oyo, Ogun, Ekiti and Ondo States, you are confronted by the sight of schoolaged children, in their multitude, who hawk banana, oranges and all sorts during school hours.

These are children who are expected to be in school, but they cannot because their parents could not afford the new developmental fees introduced by these governments. So, if the situation is so in the west, what do we talk about the north that is ravaged by the activities of the insurgents and the herdsmen? Is it in Benue, Borno, Adamawa, Nasarawa, Southern Kaduna, Plateau or Zamfara that several communities have been sacked? What happens to schools in those communities? When you claim Boko Haram has been decimated, where are the constant bomb blasts coming from? What about our colleagues from the University of Maiduguri and other institutions abducted by the Boko Haram? What about the more than 90,000 people in Benue occupying various school compounds as refugees? Therefore, the phenomenon of out-of-school-children is a reflection of the general crisis in the country.

This is a country without adequate planning for people, be they young or old. And because of that, we are governed by the rules of the tongue. You see, unlike in the early ‘60s when we used to have developmental plans, now what we have is what they call strategic plans and they only put some statistics together to placate us.

Today, they just roll out plans that do not match the philosophies and goals of the nation. If you look at Chapter 2, Section 18 of Nigeria’s Constitution, you would notice the objectives of the country’s education. But these objectives have been neglected by the people leaving us to only wander around.

How do you react to this year’s education budget?

Do you know what Nigeria calls budget? It is a game of deception. The recent analysis that we conducted, we found out that everything is just about deception. Let me give you the analysis of the university system, since August 2017, the Federal Government has not released a kobo as running cost to any of the federal universities. And this is the same government that would warn the universities against charging levies and fees. It is all over like that. Yet they are building more universities because to them, it is more glorious to say they have certain number of universities than talking about the qualities of those institutions. These Briton Woods institutions have imposed what they call Envelope Budgeting System on us. And what does that mean? This implies that on education Nigeria cannot spend more than 7 per cent of its budget, and on health you cannot spend more than two per cent, and on agriculture you cannot spend more than three per cent. Which country in the world would allow external bodies to determine that for it? Nigeria needs minimum of 20 per cent on education. You see, a country should be allowed to determine its priorities. But, here we are not allowed to do that. This is happening because we have a very weak leadership, because they lack the political will to challenge these ‘busy body’ imperialists.

What is your assessment of the socio-economic situation of the country?

The economic environment is becoming harsher than before; our governors are not responsive and the local government councils are as good as non-existent. The government prefers white elephant projects to funding education, which is the foundation for real socio-economic growth and development. So, it is not surprising that today, our healthcare facilities are in comatose, roads are impassable, our rail system is still flaunting locomotive trains. So, the whole situation is a disaster.

Are you saying there has been no difference from where we are and where we were coming from?

Let me tell you, the current leadership, when it came into power, it said no way, nobody would increase the price of fuel, what is happening today? It said no way, nobody would devalue the naira, what is happening now? Nobody would support subsidy, what is happening now? All these are going on because this country has very weak leadership. It is like those who colonised us, we are still babies in their hands and they manipulate us the way they want. When they want to appease our gods they would say our economy is growing but as soon as we want to be boastful, they would tell us our indices are all zero. So, all these manipulations are going on. Of course, we need people who can sit down and challenge these imperialists. You see, all these development partners don’t like us, and we are beginning to see that. They want us to continue to amass more loans, so that we can be enslaved by them.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has suggested a “third force” as alternative to the current leadership. What is your take on this?

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is not in a position to dictate the route to follow to us. If the third force he is still talking about will still include all these characters being paraded, then it has failed already. The other time, we were told a strong party would emerge and change everything, but which change have we seen? Has the system not remained within the same paradigm? We need a break from the past, and that cannot happen as long as the likes of Obasanjo continue to dictate what happens to us.

So, what alternative do you suggest?

Nigeria needs clearheaded people who can give this country a new orientation. And to achieve that, we need to go back to the drawing board. We must plan our country in a way that all indices of development can be brought together and meet at some point to drive our development. This will not happen until we wean ourselves from what someone describes us as “feeding bottle country.” So, we need critical elements, who could win for this country true freedom. We don’t have the true freedom yet. Those who are presently at the helm of affairs have their allegiance to these imperialists. We need some new clearheaded radical people that prioritise the interest of the Nigerian people above their selfish interests. Someone who owns a private university will surely not be willing to ensure government institutions work. That is a known fact. So, we need selfless people and not these characters.

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Education

Agency distributes 900 school desks to female colleges

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The Sokoto State Agency for Female Education has distributed 900 school desks to various girls colleges in four local government areas of the state.

Presenting the items to representatives of the schools, the Special Adviser to Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal on female education, Dr. Amamatu Yusuf, said the items have been spread across schools in Kebbe, Sokoto North, Sokoto South and Tambuwal LGAs.

“All the beneftting schools are Government Girls Day Secondary Schools. The breakdown showed the school in Kebbe got 200, GGDSS Tambuwal got 100 while the one located at Tudun Wada, Sokoto South LGA, got 150 desks.

“Others are GGDSS Sanyinna which got 125 desks, GGDSS Mabera-Mujaya which got 150 desks, GGDSS Runjin Sambo which got 100 while GGDSS Mabera-Magaji got 50.

“The distribution, done in collaboration with NIPEP/World Bank, will continue until all our schools are adequately provided with enough desks and chairs for use by pupils and their teachers,” she added.

Meanwhile, the SA has revealed that the agency will organize a special training workshop for school managers and members of the state school based management committees.

She said the training will involve 200 participants who will be taught new techniques in school management by experts drawn from different parts of the globe.

 

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Education

UNILAG VC secures release of detained union leaders

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  • As varsity matriculates 9,204 students

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe has secured the release of the detained former Chairmen of the institution’s chapter of the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (SSANU), Comrades Joseph Adefolalu and Adekola Adetomiwa, who were on Thursday arrested by the police.

The VC, accompanied by the leadership of the university’s chapter of the non-academic staff unions, visited the office of the Department of State Security (DSS) along CMD Road, Shangisha, to bail the union leaders, who were on Thursday transferred to the office from the Ikeja Division of the State Criminal Investigation Department.

Earlier, addressing the protesting workers in front of the institution’s Governing Council Chamber, Ogundipe expressed regret that the national strike had been allowed to degenerate to the level it is on the campus, saying even against the dictate of his office, he had gone on air to declare support for the striking workers.

The workers, who had assembled in their hundreds on the campus to protest the arrest of their leaders, accused the university management of harassing them since December 4, 2017, when the national strike was declared.

But, the union members did not disrupt the ongoing matriculation ceremony of the new intakes, where a total of 9,204 fresh undergraduate and postgraduate students were successfully matriculated.

The management of the university had earlier met with the leadership of the unions including the Chairmen of the university’s chapters of National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) and the Non Academic Staff Union (NASU), Comrade Sulaiman Lawal and Kehinde Ajibade, among others, to address the crisis.

The VC said; “Dialogue will always be the way out of every crisis because we would always have cause to interact again. There is no other university that has shown support to the striking unions better than UNILAG, yet we are the one that suffers more attack from you. I can assure you that once we leave here, we will go to the Police Station together and ensure that our workers are released.

“If anyone says I ordered the arrest, let me make it clear that I do not have such power but I must add that no one is above the law, including me. On this campus, 120 electrical fuses were removed from the powerhouse on Monday, January 8, and that does not speak well of the unions. We must always reach compromise on difficult issues. We have kept on appealing to the Federal Government to resolve this matter as soon as possible and I am sure very soon, it will be over.”

The meeting between the unions and the management was attended by the leadership of the Police in the area including the Area Commander.

The union leaders appreciated the university management for the middle ground reached and pledged their support in the efforts to reposition the university for good.

It would be recalled that both Adefolalu and Adekola had on Thursday morning at about 1.30am been arrested in their homes by the Police from the Ikeja Division of the State Criminal Investigation Department.

The unions had blamed the development on the ongoing national strike declared by the Joint Action Committee of the non-academic staff in the universities nationwide, alleging that the decision to arrest the leaders may be in anticipation of likely disruption of the matriculation ceremony, which held today (Friday).

 

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Education

Strike: UNILAG postpones convocation indefinitely

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Following the refusal of the non-academic staff unions in the nation’s universities to call off their two-month-old industrial action, and the threats by the unions’ chapters at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) Akoka, to disrupt the planned 50th convocation ceremonies scheduled to hold between February 19 and 22, the institution’s management has postponed the ceremonies indefinitely.

In a statement issued by the university and signed by the Principal Assistant Registrar (Information), Mrs. Taiwo Oloyede, a new date would be announced for the ceremonies soon.

Though Oloyede did not give reasons for the abrupt postponement, New Telegraph learnt the striking workers comprising members of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT), had threatened to disrupt the convocation ceremonies over what they described as the neglect they suffer in the hands of government.

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