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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

BREAKING: 28 Family Members Die In Bauchi Auto Crash

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No fewer than 28 persons said to be members of the same family were reportedly burnt beyond recognition in a fatal auto crash that occurred on the Bauchi-Ningi federal highway in Bauchi State.

The crash, we gathered, occurred in the early hours of Thursday.

Speaking to our correspondent in a telephone interview, a relation of the victims, Abdullahi Yamadi, confirmed the incident and described it as “very sad.”

Yamadi, who is the Secretary, North-West Zone of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, said the deceased were all his relatives.

He said they were on their way to Yola, Adamawa State when the incident occurred.

He told The PUNCH: “Yes, the accident is true and all of the deceased are my relatives.

“They were traveling to Yola, Adamawa State, for a visit when the unfortunate incident happened.

“You know, after the harvest and at seasons like this, people travel to visit loved ones resident in different places; and that was where they were going to.

“They left Dutsinma, Katsina State, and they had left Jigawa State and were within Bauchi State when their vehicle had a head-on collision with another vehicle.

“They were 29 in the vehicle and all of them died except the driver, who survived.

“This is very sad news and very pathetic for 28 people from the same family to die in an accident in one day.

“It is really sad.”

The Bauchi Police Command has yet to make an official pronouncement on the incident.

Details later…

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Human Rights Abuses: Stop Interfering In Our Affairs; Mind Your Business, Presidency Tells U.S. UK, EU

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A Nigerian presidential spokesperson on Wednesday warned the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union to stop interfering in Nigeria’s affairs, especially on the issue of human rights abuses.

This warning was issued by Femi Adesina, spokesperson to President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday while reacting to reports from the EU, UK and the U.S. that Nigeria has a high record of human rights abuses.

He reacted during an interview on Channels TV “Politics Today” programme.

Mr Adesina explained that Nigeria is a sovereign nation and “will not be bothered about the reports from the foreign countries.”

Invasion

Speaking on the invasion of court by operatives of the State Security Services (SSS) to re-arrest the Publisher of SaharaReporters, Omoyele Sowore, last Friday, he said: “We are not answerable to the U.S., the UK or the EU.”

“We are Nigeria, a sovereign country. Those countries and entities have issues of their own. Let them deal with their issues. Let Nigeria also deal with her internal issues. We are not answerable to them.”

Mr Adesina, a two-term president of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, however, said he would respect the opinion of Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka “than that of any foreign nation or commentators”.

“We respect Professor Soyinka. You don’t have too many of them in the country or even on the continent. He is an avatar, and he is well respected, but his opinion will remain his opinion. It will be considered and if there are things to act on, we will act on them,” he disclosed.

Some lawmakers from the UK and the U.S. have called for the release of Mr Sowore but the federal government has rebuffed this.

Apart from Mr Sowore, the Nigerian government is also illegally detaining many others including a former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki and the Shiite leader, Ibrahim El Zakzaky.

The presidency also described the opinions of those calling for the release of those ‘illegally’ detained as “that of a few Nigerians”.

“Genuine issues will be looked into. We have had instances in which the government had to reverse itself because there were concerns raised,” Mr Adesina said. “It shows that the government is responsive but you cannot listen to a babble of voices. It will distract you from what you are doing.”

Responding to allegations that he stopped being a journalist after taking up the job to be Mr Buhari’s media adviser, Mr Adesina said: “I am still in the media. It is just that the roles are a bit reversed. When I am done with the government by the grace of God, I will still return to the media,” he said.

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Passenger Slumps, Dies At Lagos Airport

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A passenger, identified as Chukwuma Anthony Ezeh, on Wednesday slumped and died at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.

An official source at the MMIA arrival terminal told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the passenger slumped on arrival from China and died while waiting to collect his luggage

Ezeh, according to information on his passport, was 47 years old at the time of the incident.

The spokesperson of the Police MMIA Command, DSP Joseph Alabi, who confirmed the incident to NAN at about 9.25 p.m. on Wednesday, said the passenger came on board Ethiopian Airlines.

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According to him, the incident happened at about 3:15 p.m. and the deceased was confirmed dead at the MMIA Clinic.

“While walking at the arrival hall the man slumped and died,” he said.

Alabi added that Ezeh’s corpse had been deposited at the Air Force Base Hospital mortuary.

(NAN)

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