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Revival! Dapo Abiodun’s Strides In Reviving Quality Education In Ogun

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That was the most apt and most resounding word coming from the vocal box of the then gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ogun State. Prince Dapo Abiodun minced no word about his intent to work round the clock to revive education from the near-comatose it had been plunged into in Ogun State, a state which was before then known for being among the best in Nigeria.

Empirical evidence, as well as historical antecedents, pointed to Ogun State as Nigeria’s cradle of civilization. But all that changed over time due to neglect and lack of deliberateness on the part of people at the helm of affairs then. Now that he is in the saddle, Governor Dapo Abiodun has unleashed his ingenuity to bring back the lost education glory of the state which has proudly produced many icons of global repute as well as thought leaders and political gladiators with an impact that has remained indelible for ages.

During the silver jubilee of the historic launch of the Free Universal Primary Education in January 1980, late Chief Obafemi Awolowo addressed the Government and people of Ogun State at the Ogun State House of Assembly. According to the former Premier of Western Region, “Education is a fundamental right, and it is the inalienable right of every Nigerian citizen to be educated free by the state. To treat education as a privilege, the opportunity to acquire which is limited to the children of the well-to-do and the rich, or which must be paid for from loan given to the student by the state, is a most misguided policy. For the avoidance of doubt, by free education we mean the abolition of not only of fees but also of all kinds of levies, by whatever name called that are still being imposed and collected in some parts of the country.”

With this speech, foremost statesman, Chief Awolowo, re-emphasized the significance of popular education of the masses, even though free education had been core of his politics. This ideal has equally been enunciated by Governor Abiodun whose has tasked his administration to get the state back to the enviable top. In his inaugural speech, Governor Abiodun made no pretence about the enormity of challenges in the education section. He lamented the state of the education sector, which he described as so worrisome, particularly in funding, white elephant projects some of which were moribund, unpaid salaries, controversial campus relocation, hasty appointment, among others.

Governor Abiodun brought his sense of duty to bear immediately he assumed duties. He made free education mandatory for pupils in primary and secondary schools. Prior to his coming on board, these groups of students were subjected to paying indiscriminate fees and levies with little or nothing to justify such payments. His declaration of free education put an immediate end to the N3,700 levied on students as adopted by the former administration on the advice of the Parents Teachers Association.

“The fee negates the free education policy of this administration. It is like payment through the back door,” Abiodun said when defending his administration’s decision to take the burden of school fees off parents whose salaries are already stretched.

When questions were raised about the sustainability of the stoppage, he assured that his team was on top of the situation and would be working with school principals and headmasters general to look into the issue and proffer ways in which the gaps created by the stoppage would be blocked.

“I hereby suspend the payment in all our schools. We will also look into the issue of principal and headmaster generals. I have told them to go and look at and how we can make it work without having to charge anybody because we promised we are going to offer free education.”

This has put paid to indiscriminate charges in primary and secondary schools, an initiative that has seen an increase in the rate of student enrolments in primary and secondary schools.

Governor Abiodun in his maiden address after the resumption, made it clear that his administration was going to tackle the hydra-headed challenged headlong. “We are going to bring our education sector up to standard.

“Yes, we have the largest number of tertiary institutions in this State, however, the performances of our students are not encouraging and we have to change that so we may be declaring a state of emergency in the education sector.”

One of the earliest actions Abiodun took as Governor was setting up visiting panels on tertiary institutions in the state to assess the challenges facing the institutions, evaluate them and recommend actions to be taken to address the issues. These Panels have been submitting their reports; and the governor has alluded to the fact that his administration has resolved the issues at Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, and the embattled Tai-Solarin College of Education (TASCE), Omu, Ijebu, adding that the state government has set up a Government Delivery Unit for education in the state.

Governor Abiodun has also demonstrated that he is for all institutions irrespective of their ownership structure. He has continuously visited and celebrated wins of privately owned institutions as well as those owned by both Ogun State and Federal Governments while also has pledged infrastructure development to aid their operations.

At the 40th anniversary and 19th convocation ceremony of the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro, the Ogun State Governor offered Miss. Akintola Esther Modupe, the best graduating student of the institution’s automatic employment. Miss Akintola graduated with a cumulative average grade of 3.90 out of the maximum 4. She would commence work immediately after her mandatory one-year national youth service scheme. The same gesture was also replicated during the convocation ceremony of Ogun State Institute of Technology where Governor Abiodun offered immediate employment to the Overall Best Graduating Student with a CGPA of 3.85 on a scale of 4.0, Adedokun Yetunde of the Department of Accountancy.

Governor Abiodun’s administration greatly appreciates the importance of personnel in educational development. As such, he has not only been about renovations and building of a physical structure, even though that has been a front-burner activity for his government. He recently directed that promotional examination and interview for career elongation of primary school teachers to Grade level 15 be carried out. Recently, he approved the release of 2016 and 2017 promotion for 10, 000 teachers.The administration’s monthly commitment to timely payment of salaries and benefits of teachers has always been given 100% attention.

Ogun State Government pays an average of N791million pensions to retired Local Government Council workers and the State Universal Basic Education Board, SUBEB, retirees monthly. The present government has vowed to offset an outstanding debt of N32billion in gratuities and death benefits incurred between August 2011 and June 2019 under its Transition Pension Scheme.

Records from the Bureau of Local Government Pensions showed that the present administration has been facilitating prompt release of retirement savings account balance to retirees who had disengaged from the Contributory Pension Scheme with a view to ensuring that senior citizens enjoy better life after meritorious years of service to the councils. Apart from the N791 million being paid monthly as pensions, the Bureau has also paid N4,6 billion as monthly pensions between January and June 2019.

Governor Abiodun’s reinstatement of Deputy Director in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, who was sacked by the immediate past administration for alleged dereliction of duty, shows his resolve to be fair and address all types of injustice meted out to workers. Also reinstated was the former Chairman, Nigerian Union of Teachers, Ogun State Chapter, Mr. Dare Ilekoya who had been compulsorily retired for alleged infractions, during the 2016 World Teachers Day celebration. Governor Abiodun, who announced the reinstatement during the 2019 World Teachers Day celebration held at the MKO Abiola Stadium, Kuto, Abeokuta, said the action was “to encourage teachers and also the right thing to do.”

The Ogun State Governor said that his administration would continue to ensure that the rights of teachers were protected and he called on teachers to be guided by the laws of the civil service.

Abiodun noted that the celebration of the World Teachers Day was a key element of nation-building and a catalyst for the mental, physical, social and spiritual development of humanity, adding that the celebration was a great day of joy for teachers and equally those trained or brought up by teachers.

“I know very much the sacrifices that teachers make on a daily basis to impart knowledge, considering the prevailing socio-economic situation where we have continued to see that students spend a longer part of their days with their teachers. The teachers are fast becoming foster parents as well, and as such, a good student is not just a reflection of the home, but also of the teacher.

Celebrating our teachers is, therefore, not a thing of one, but of all days,” he said.

Abiodun enjoined the teachers to double their efforts so as to achieve better performance from students in the Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) and other examinations, commending the academic excellence and sagacity of professional tutors and teachers at the national level through the exploits of Yewa College, Ilaro; Comprehensive High School, Ayetoro; Ijebu-Ode Grammar School; Adeola Odutola College; Mayflower, Ikenne; and, Abeokuta Grammar School.

In its bid to further encourage teachers in the state to do more, the Ogun State Government has disclosed that plans are underway to have the Governor’s Teachers’ School Excellence Award, with a view to creating healthy and meaningful competition among teachers in the state. Governor Abiodun made this known while welcoming the awardees that did Ogun State proud at the President-Teachers School Excellence Award (an award for teachers across the country) held in Abuja.

Abiodun expressed his readiness to domesticate the award to let the teachers know that they can also get their rewards on the earth before proceeding to heaven to get the ultimate laurel.

“I want to introduce a state challenge among teachers in our state. The challenge will be known as the Governor’s Teachers’ School Excellence Award. We are going to domesticate this. What we will do to those that excel will be bigger than what you got from the President-Teachers Award. We will expand it to accommodate more teachers. Today, you have done us proud, our heads are ‘swollen,’ you have done us proud. It is important we sustain it, and one of the ways is to establish the Governor’s Excellence Award,” he said.

He added that the state government will continue to give all necessary support to teachers in the state, saying that his administration would continue to do all in its power to return the state to its place of pride in the education sector.

“If out of 15 awards, we have won 4, that means there is 11 to share between the other 35 states. That means we have done well. I want to assure you that we will give you all the needed support to sustain all that you have achieved,” he said.

Abiodun also disclosed that the State Government would support the winners with cash gifts as a way of incentives, saying that no goodwill go without its reward.

In another development, the administration is currently embarking on the rehabilitation of Public Schools across the 236 Wards in Ogun State.

With the amount of focus this administration is giving to repositioning and strengthening the educational institutions, it is only a matter of time before Ogun State regains it pride of place in the educational sector nationally and globally.

BIG STORY

Power Sector Has Broken Down Completely, Govt Wasted N1.7 Trillion In Three Years — El-Rufai Drops Bombshell

Peter Okunoren

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The power sector has broken down completely, the government declared on Thursday after its activities were reviewed by the National Economic Council (NEC)

The government said there is no result to show for the N1.7 trillion financial support it gave to the sector in the last three years.

It added that Nigerians must now be involved in finding solutions to the ‘broken’ sector.

Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai made the government’s position known at the end of NEC’s January meeting at the State House in Abuja.

E-Rufai, who is the Chairman of a committee set up by NEC to harmonize the Power Sector Reform, told reporters that the government was desirous of ending the challenges hindering the sector.

He said the committee’s request to throw the process of finding a solution to the national power crisis open was approved.

According to him, beyond experts and other critical players in the sector, ordinary Nigerians, who have ideas and experience the power would be invited to bring in memoranda, as part of the plan to solve the intractable national power problem.

He said: “On the status of the ownership of the distribution companies, the committee met five times since its inauguration on the 5th of December, we’ve made significant progress in getting presentations from all the stakeholders in the electricity supply industry and we all agreed that the electricity supply industry is broken and the situation of the power sector is a national emergency that requires all hands to be on the deck, to interrogate why the sector is not working for the overall progress and benefit of Nigeria and Nigerians.

“We’ve received presentations from virtually all the stakeholders. We came to NEC to ask that we co-opt the Association of the Electricity Distribution Companies in Nigeria and the Association of Electricity Generating Companies in Nigeria as members of the committee and NEC approved that.

“We updated NEC on what we have found so far and promised that work on this will continue and we’ll submit our report in the shortest possible time.

“But the electricity industry is quite complex and technical and even those of us that have been asked to be members of the committee are learning a lot from the various presentations, sometimes conflicting presentations from various stakeholders in the power sector.

“However, I think there is the will on the part of all the members to really go to the root of all the problems and speak to ourselves in an honest national conversation and find a way to fix this sector because this country will never make progress, will never create jobs or industrialize without a functioning electricity industry and that’s the goal that NEC has given us beyond just establishing the status of ownership of the distribution companies.

“Everyone in Nigeria is affected by electricity and we want to hear your views; what you think is wrong with the sector, what your experiences are, dealing with the distribution companies, what you think are solutions to these problems. “Sometimes, solutions are not technical, but commonsensical. So, while we have all the technical experts on the table, we also want to hear from the Nigerian public

“We hope that when we receive these memoranda, we will curate them and analyze them. We’ll summarise them and various suggestions and solutions will be published as part of our report to NEC. After that, we can go to the government of the federation for decisions.

“The objective is how do we fix the power sector. This is the question we want to ask every Nigerian and we want suggestions. We want experiences, we want everything out there and we’ll protect the confidentiality of anyone that chooses to give us confidential information, but we need everyone on deck.”

On the power sector reforms and the required steps to take, El-Rufai said: “There are other issues. The entire sector is broken, the tariff is an issue, the way the privatization was done is an issue to many.

“So, there are many issues. What we have agreed on is that there is a fundamental problem in the electronic supply industry. And that you cannot privatize an industry and then over three years since privatization, you pump in N1.7 trillion of government fund into it, that is not privatization.

“The Federal Government has supported the electricity sector with N1.7 trillion in the last three years and this is not sustainable. So, solutions must be found.

“Today, there are 80 million Nigerians that do not have access to electricity. We cannot continue like this.

“We want to listen to Nigerians and get their own views and incorporate those views in every solution that we proposed.”

On the plan to leverage on pension funds to grow the nation’s key infrastructure, including power, the governor said the system is not peculiar to Nigeria, adding that it is about the best way to develop at a leap.

“On the question on pension funds, I think there is a bit of misunderstanding about this. First of all, it is not true that this money is people’s money. The people contribute and the government also matches their contributions, so it’s part government money, is part workers contribution.

“Every month when you contribute, there is also employer’s contribution. Secondly, you have to ask yourself the question, if this money is there what is the best use for the money.

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Femi Adesina To CAN: Fix Your Bias And Sympathy, You Got It Wrong On Beheaded Adamawa Pastor

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Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina has called out the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), asking them not to ”mix bias and sympathy” following the recent beheading of Reverend Lawan Andimi, the Chairman of CAN in Michika Local government area of Adamawa state by Boko Haram insurgents.

Adesina in a post on his Facebook page on Friday accused the Christian leaders of painting Buhari as an ”anti-christian” stating that “security is number one on the priorities of the Buhari administration”

The statement reads:

“It was very sad and doleful to hear of the eventual beheading of Rev Lawan Andimi, Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Michika Local Government, Adamawa State. He had been abducted by terrorists earlier this month.

“I felt the killing of Andimi very keenly, not for the fact that he was a clergyman, but “any man’s death diminishes me because I’m involved in mankind.” (John Donne).

No man should die the way Rev Andimi was killed. Beheaded by insurgents, who then proceeded to gleefully announce his decapitation. It should not happen. Evil and senseless. It is a classic example of man’s inhumanity to man, and those who did it have long lost their humanity if they ever had any.

“President Muhammadu Buhari has sympathized with the family and relations of the dead. I have also been in a state of melancholy over it. May God have mercy.

“I am mourning Rev Andimi, not just because he was a cleric, but because he was a human being. And my distress was increased by the statement issued on the tragic event by the central body of CAN. Too many things were mixed together, which the apex Christian body in the country should have been mindful of, lest it departs from the mind and essence of Jesus Christ, our perfect example.

“For years, since he emerged on the national scene as a military leader, and later as an aspirant for the highest political office in the country, and eventually as President, spirited attempts have been made to position Muhammadu Buhari as anti-Christian faith. It worked against the man for a long time, till the majority of Nigerians saw through the smokescreen, and made up their minds against demonization.

“That was why as much as some church leaders tried to dress Buhari in borrowed robes in 2015 and 2019, millions of Christians went ahead to vote for him. The inexorable truth is that in Nigeria, Muslims can’t wish Christians away, and vice-versa. We shall all stay here, and salvage it together.

“However, the statement by CAN on the death of Andimi gives hint that the leadership of the Christian body still harbors some of the old narratives that have been discredited, and from which majority of people have purged themselves, except the willfully irredeemable.

“Hear CAN, through its Director of Legal and Public Affairs, Evangelist Kwamkur Vondip, speaking for Rev Samson Ayokunle, President of the body: “Maintenance of security is the least responsibility of any government that knows its worth. We are once again calling on President Buhari to purge himself of the allegations of nepotism and religious favoritism by reconstituting the leadership of the security forces.”

“Let’s consider this part of the press statement. Maintenance of security is the least responsibility of any government that knows its worth. Not news. The Constitution says so. But don’t you glean a hint of bile and bias in “that knows its worth?” Oh, CAN, this is not the mind of our Master. He gives praise when due. Security is number one on the priorities of the Buhari administration. It has pumped time and humongous resources into it, and while the job is not fully done, we are not in the same position we were before the administration came. At least, to those who want to be honest. And CAN should be honest. That is what we’ve learnt from our Master.

“There were times bombs used to go off in this country like firecrackers, and deaths were in many scores. Now for months on end, you may not hear of a single bomb blast. Emirs that had fled their palaces, like those of Askira and Uba, have returned after two years. Secondary schools that were shut for two years in Maiduguri have reopened. Roads long closed due to activities of insurgents are back in use. Kidnappers are being arrested in droves in different parts of the country. Clashes between farmers and herdsmen are reducing to the barest minimum. Yet, CAN is talking about a government that knows its worth? The Buhari government does, and honest Nigerians know it, and wish it more successes. Security, in any country of the world, can only be work in progress.

“Hear again: We are once again calling on President Buhari to purge himself of the allegations of nepotism and religious favoritism…Wait a minute. If any purging is to be done, is it not by those making allegations? The allegations lasted for many years, but the truth eventually overtook them. If CAN would then still dwell on the discredited accusations, it must be the one to purge itself, as millions of Nigerians, including Christians, have already done. The insecurity in the country is not about any religion. It is pure evil, from the pit of hell.

“And then: …purge himself of the allegations…by reconstituting the leadership of the security forces. CAN, oh CAN, in a condolence statement? Are you saying under a different leadership of our security forces, the insurgency will vanish after they wave their fingers? Why mix the wheat and chaff together? In the leadership of the security forces as we have it now, is the position of Chief of Defence Staff not held by General Abayomi Olonisakin, who is also a pastor? Is he not a member of CAN? Is the Chief of Naval Staff, Ibok Ekwe-Ibas, not a Christian, and under the banner of CAN? Listening to the organization, you would think not even half a Christian is in the leadership of the security forces. This kind of sentiment breeds hatred and malice in a country, and CAN should not be involved in such, for Jesus would not do it. And we’ve been called to walk in His steps.

“If the leadership of the security forces would be changed, it is a sitting President that has the prerogative. It will not happen when CAN begins to make such demand in what should be a sober condolence press statement. Don’t mix bias and sympathy. They don’t mesh.

“And then, this completely reckless portion of the statement: “In the light of the current developments and the circumstantial facts surrounding the prevailing upsurge of attacks against the church, it will be difficult for us to believe that the Federal Government is not colluding with the insurgents to exterminate Christians in Nigeria, bearing in mind the very questionable leadership of the security sector that has been skewed towards a religion and region.”

“Holy Moses! Did CAN say this? Shameful and ridiculous. These are the things that sow malice and animosity in the country, and a Christian body is not expected to be involved in such. You can’t sow discord and expect concord.

“In that statement, the Christian body urged the Federal Government to ensure the release of the prisoner of faith, Leah Sharibu, and hundreds of victims who are in Boko Haram and ISWAP captivity. It equally called for three days fasting and prayers by Christians in the country. Good. The role of the church is not just in making snide remarks and statements, it is in what the Good Book calls “the demonstration of the Spirit and power.” When Herod locked Peter up and was going to behead him, the early church prayed fervently, and Peter was rescued miraculously the night before. Rather than cast the government as omnipotent, it is God that has all powers. And some things are never resolved spiritually except through prayer and fasting. It is not me that said so. Jesus did. So, let the Church be fully involved in supplication for divine intervention in the country, rather than playing subtle politics and unwittingly generating hate in the land.

“CAN says kidnappings and killings are shameful to a government that boasts that it has conquered insurgency. Boasts. So that is all that matters to CAN as if it was an opposition political party? Boasts. No. This would not augur for unity and cohesion in a country. We are not asking the Christian body to be in bed with government, that would not help anybody, but the organization has been sounding too long like a political party. We daily learn to walk with Jesus. His spirit is not an unduly critical one. And He left us an example “that ye should follow in his steps.”

“Rev Andimi was not killed solely because he was a Christian. Those evil people kill anyone they lay their filthy hands on.

“May Andimi’s soul Rest In Peace. May his loved ones be comforted. And may evildoers get their recompense, and fast too. Amen.”

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BIG STORY

Facebook Shuts Down Nnamdi Kanu’s Page, IPOB Kicks

Gbemileke Ajayi

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The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), on Thursday, said the Facebook page of its leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, has been shut down.

The group’s Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, in a statement, alleged that the action was taken by Facebook Nigeria who, it said viewed the page as a platform to exposing the ills in government.

It warned that Biafra had suffered greatly as a result of the denial of media space in the late 60s, saying it could not afford to allow the same to continue in the 21st century.

The statement reads in part: “We can confirm that Facebook Nigeria has shut down the page of our leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.

“This is not unconnected with the fact that our leader’s page has become a rich resource for those determined to expose the evil regime in Nigeria and enthrone a better life for the masses.

“We mince no words when we say that Facebook Nigeria is more corrupt than the corrupt government they are seeking to protect.

“Biafra suffered immeasurably as a result of the denial of media space in the late 60s a situation we are not prepared to allow in this 21st century.”

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