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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

Bello grants scholarship to Best Graduating student from Law School

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Ms. Fatima Bombom Sani, the best graduating student at the 2015 Call to Bar examination of the Nigerian Law School, has been granted academic scholarship to the tune of $93,000  by the Executive Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello.

This was made known at the award ceremony at Government House Kogi State over the weekend when the governor received Ms. Fatima Sani, her relatives, alongside Bar. Natasha Akpoti.  In his speech, the governor lamented a situation where academic excellence has not been given the requisite reward in Nigeria.

“The case of Fatima Sani reminds me of how academic excellence has not been adequately rewarded in Nigeria. Imagine someone that bagged nine separate awards including “Best Student of the Year and Council of Education Star Award, and nothing was done for her since 2015.”

The governor also thanked Barr. Natasha Hadiza Akpoti for taking up the case of Fatima Sani by starting an awareness campaign about her academic feat. “I thank Barr. Natasha Akpoti for this if not we won’t all be gathered here.

It was Bar. Natasha Akpoti, who sought the intervention of the Kogi State Governor who was not only surprised but disappointed that Fatima was left unsupported while no information was brought to his office concerning her case.

“I heard about your exceptional performance at the Nigerian Law School in 2015 and assumed you were recognized and sponsored by the administration of the day. It’s unacceptable that such brilliance is not celebrated and promoted. Nevertheless, now that your genuine self is before me, I shall grant you a personal scholarship to celebrate your exceptionality and help your career-defining goals.”

Governor Yahaya Bello stated that after some inquiries and validation of Fatima’s credentials, he in his capacity declared a full scholarship for Fatima to study Masters in Finance Law at the Colombian Law School, in the United States of America.

Gov. Bello thanked Natasha Akpoti for her humanitarian efforts in bringing Fatima’s issue while urging Fatima to uphold her academic excellence and make Nigeria proud and return home to serve her fatherland.

Barr. Natasha Akpoti in her remark thanked the Governor for his benevolence and penchant for promoting academic excellence. “We must celebrate heroes like Fatima in other to motivate young people especially girls towards exceptional educational performances.” She equally advised Fatima to go for her studies and come back to contribute her quota to the development of Kogi state and Nigeria while being a source of inspiration to others.

It would be recalled that Barr. Natasha Akpoti had on the 27th of April 2018 via her Facebook page, advocated for sponsorship to help Fatima further her academic dreams having emerged as the best graduating student at the 2015 Bar exam where she bagged nine separate awards including “Best Student of the Year and Council of Education Star Award.

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Education

AAUA: Mass withdrawal of students looms over fee hike

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  • Visitation panel report: Stakeholders chide govt over delay
  • We’ve handed over report to councils – Commissioner

 

WITHDRAWAL
Some indigent students of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko (AAUA) are said to be prepared to withdraw from the institution as they are yet to make headway in their efforts to raise their new school fees

 

 

These are challenging times for indigent students of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko (AAUA) and their parents, as many of them are allegedly set to withdraw from the institution due to the astronomical hike in fees.

Following the hike in fees, which was jerked up from between N30,000 to N35,000, to between N80,000 to N150,000 by the management, some students have allegedly shunned the ongoing registration, which is billed to end on Saturday, May 26.

For instance, Richard Olaosebikan, a 300-Level undergraduate of the Department of Political Science, said he was yet to pay the new school fees, as he still struggling to meet up.

He said: “Paying new fees has been difficult for me because things are very hard. I have struggled to make part-payment and I hope I could meet up to pay the rest before the close of portal on Saturday. I am speaking to some people who could help me and I pray they respond before then. I am presently in school to see what I can do and I hope that I will meet up.”

Also, Olaosebikan’s friend, Success Ibitoye, a 400-Level student of the Faculty of Agriculture, New Telegraph gathered, might be forced to drop out of the university if he receives no assistance before Saturday.

According to his friend, Ibitoye is yet to pay a kobo from his school fees which is about N150,000 and to worsen his situation, he does not have any hope of doing so any moment from now simply because of his parents’ background and the harsh economy downturn in the country.

Expressing his predicament, a parent has revealed that contrary to the acclaimed N150,000 fees for the Faculty of Law students, he said he eventually paid N200,000 when departmental fees, and other sundry levies were added.

According to the parent, out of 35 fresh Law students admitted by the university, who are currently undergoing their registration, as at Friday, May 18, only about 15 students were yet to pay their fees, suggesting that they might lose their admission.

But, the spokesman for the university, Mr. Sola Imoru, who said he was not aware of such development, however, noted that the university had since inaugurated the Students’ Support Service to address the challenges of such students that are genuine.

Such students with genuine complaints are expected to visit the Students’ Support Service purposely established by the management for such complaints,” Imoru said, insisting that those alleged to have withdrawn did so out of sheer ignorance.

According to him, the university last week organized an orientation session for the fresh students, where the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Igbekele Ajibefun, addressed them on this issue, among others.

Again, the Chairman of the university’s Council, Dr. Tunji Abayomi, who also claimed ignorance of the withdrawal of students, hinted that if such case would arise at all, it would be very low. He said the management would look into it with a view to assisting such students.

Also commenting, the Chairman of the institution’s chapter of the Senior Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Mr. Tope Famuti said there was yet to be any information to that effect, saying though the fees were increased based on faculty or department, it was not enough for students to withdraw.

According to him, the students were paying about N35,000 before it was increased to between N80,000 and N150,000, but they have the opportunity to pay more than once.
“To the best of my knowledge I don’t have such information as a stakeholder and I am a worker here,” he stressed.
However, his Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) counterpart, Dr. Sola Fayose said it was too hasty to draw such conclusion that some students of the university were withdrawing for their inability to pay the new fees regime.
“For now, we can’t say precisely as the students are still undergoing their registration. Such withdrawal could only be firmly established after their registration and during examination, when we will be able to discover whether some students are no longer in the class.

“Until after registration and examination we cannot determine whether some students have withdrawn or not,” Fayose said.
Meanwhile, major stakeholders in Ondo State education sector have condemned the state government-led by Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu for its perceived delay in releasing the reports of the Visitation Panel constituted for higher institutions in the state.

They expressed worry that the reports might have been swept under the carpet by the governor, almost four months after the Panel submitted it to the government
Governor Akeredolu, who is the Visitor to the institutions, had on November 21, 2017, inaugurated the Visitation Panel to all the four state-owned tertiary institutions, including the Ondo State University of Science and Technology (OSUSTECH), Okitipupa; the University of Medical Sciences (UNIMED), Ondo; Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo (RUGIPO); and the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko (AAUA).

The visitation panel to the Ondo State University of Science and Technology was chaired by Prof. Olumide Tewe, while the University of Medical Sciences panel was chaired Prof. Ayo Arowojolu and Rufus Giwa Polytechnic by Prof. Sunday Adewale; and Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, was chaired by Dr. Goke Adegoroye.

Meanwhile, several memoranda in form of reports, petitions and appeals were received from the public, student unions, members of the various university communities, as well as other stakeholders and workers’ unions including ASUU, SSANU, NASU, and the National Association of Academic Technicians (NAAT).

The panel, among other terms of reference was to recommend measures and actions to reposition the institutions for optimal performance, examine the financial management of all the tertiary institutions and determine their compliance with appropriate regulations; examine the financial management of the university including subventions, grants, loans and internally generated revenue and determine their compliance with appropriate regulations; examine adequacy of staff and staff development programmes of the university.

The panel, which reports the governor said would reposition the institutions, was also to examine industrial relations among management, staff and students and recommend ways to achieving lasting peace and harmony; examine the state landed properties and other assets of the university; and recommend measures and actions to reposition the university for optimal performance.

It’s believed that issues ranging from repositioning of the various institutions, miss-governance, financial challenges, over-bloated employment, among others, will be considered by the panels.

Other expected recommendations are issues concerning cooperative societies’ deductions, school fees and student welfare; staff issues such as wrongful termination of appointments, withheld promotions, victimization, and administrative issues.

Other critical areas the panel was expected to cover include subventions to the university and their spending, award of contracts, inflation of contracts, financial recklessness, incompetency and moral ineptitude in the system.

With the submission of the report since Friday, January 26, this year, the stakeholders expressed regret over the delay in the release.
But, the state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Yemi Olowolabi, who exonerated the government from the delay in implementing the panel’s report, however, told New Telegraph that the governor, after presentation of the report to the State Executive Council, had immediately transmitted same to the Governing Council of the respective institutions on their inauguration.

“There is autonomy of the institutions and what the government did was to transmit the report to the council of the respective higher institutions on their inauguration for implementation. So, it will be wrong to blame the state government for the delay in implementing the report,” the Commissioner said.
But, contrary to the state government’s claim that the report had been handed over to the Governing Councils of the different institutions, Dr. Abayomi, in a phone call, denied ever receiving such report from the state government.

He, however said the document may have been handed over to the Vice-Chancellor, who he noted is yet brief him.
“I am not aware of such report. I still spoke with the Vice-Chancellor today (Sunday) and I don’t know if he had received such. But, it has not come to my notice. I will see him (Vice-Chancellor) on Thursday this week, maybe he is holding the report till then,” Abayomi said.

Also, the university’s spokesman denied any knowledge of such document, whether or not such had been handed over to the Council or the management.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of ASUU, Dr. Fayose, described the governor’s delay in making the panel’s report public as a disservice to the collective development of the institutions.
“Since the report was submitted in January 26, this year, we have been awaiting the White Paper, that will usher in its implementation but this has not been done,” he said, the government has not done things properly.

“If the inauguration of the panel and presentation of the report were made public, the state government should also make public the handing over as claimed by the same government to the councils so that we will know those to hold accountable. But, as it is now we find it is difficult to believe the government.”

Also, the Chairman of SSANU, Famuti, who echoed the position of ASUU, wondered while government had not released the report or made it public.

He said; “There is no gain-saying that public funds have been expended on the various panels which comprise of men and women of integrity, who not only sacrificed their time and energy, but also their experience from various fields to put the report that would give a better direction to our tertiary institutions in the state under the carpet.”

 

 

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Education

FCT students shine at Korea, FG art competition

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No fewer than 30 primary schools across the six Area Councils of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja participated in the ninth Drawing competition, jointly organised by the Federal Government and South Korea.

The competition was instituted in 2010 to mark the diplomatic ties between South Korea and Nigerian governments.
This year’s edition of the competition, which had as theme: “Peace and Conflict Resolution,” showcased a total collection of 150 artworks from students in the FCT.

According to the Director, Korea Cultural Centre Nigeria (KCCN), Mr. Han Sungrae, the essence of the competition was to help children to benefit from the positive effects that arts, especially drawing, could have on children at the formative age, and also to further strengthen the existing relationship and mutual understanding between Nigeria and Korea.

“We recognise how important peace is and that is why we have encouraged these young ones to bear out their minds on what they envision peace to be. In doing so, they have expressed their imaginations, creativity, inventiveness, innovation and cultural awareness,” he said.

The Chairman of FCT Universal Basic Education Board, Dr. Kabir Matazu, noted that the various competitions organised by the KCCN for students and teachers in the FCT in the last nine years, was a proof that exposing children to acquisition of skills was the right step to take.

Matazu, who was represented by a Director in the Board, Dr. Hassan Suleiman, assured the organisers of the Board’s continued support to enhance the competition in every possible way.

“It is a wonderful development because the pupils were able to pick in practical terms the theme of this competition, “Peace” by bringing out different artworks portraying peace.

“There are series of conflicts across the world; even in this country there is no day that would pass without conflict in one part or the other.
They are trying to preach that we need to imbibe peace instead of engaging in conflicts. If at their level the children are preaching to the people to embrace peace, I think it is a welcome development,” he said.

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