By Kolade Larewaju
THE Children Day Celebration may be marred in Ogun State following the decision of proprietors of private nursery and primary schools to send their pupils on compulsory holiday to protest alleged government arbitrary and exorbitant increase in the registration fees for the schools.
The proprietors said the registration fee, which hitherto was N20,000 per session has been jacked up to, in some cases N2 million, depending on the number of pupils in the school.
One of the proprietors who spoke with Vanguard said when government decided to jack up the fees, it just multiplied the number of pupils contained in their registration forms with about N9, 500 per head.
â€œWhat happened was that depending on the number of pupils in your school, government just multiplied it by N9,500 meaning some schools would pay as much as N2 million as against N20,000 they were paying before. If the government did not get the Bond because the House of Assembly refused to approve it, should it now make life unbearable for the people?
â€œThe implication is that if the government is allowed to charge that much, parents would have to add about N10, 000 to what they are paying for each of their wards. That means a parent with three kids would now have to add N30, 000 to what he or she had been paying. Where is such money?â€
The proprietors were said to haveÂ met and in protest against the increase, decided to close the schools indefinitely and stage demonstration through the streets of Abeokuta to the Governorâ€™s Office, today.
Govt defends action
But the State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Sina Kawonise, in defending the increase said: â€œWe are not demanding any new tax. We only have decided to enforce the existing fees in the state. The only problem is that the schools have not been paying their statutory fees before now. Most of them make deductions from their staff salaries but refused to remit same to the government. Some which were given provisional licences have failed to regularize their approval and are operating illegally.”
â€œIn the face of dwindling revenue allocation from the federation account, the state government set up a task force to ensure that the IGR of the state is improved. One of the ways to do this is to ensure that most people are captured in the tax net of the state. So, we have only asked the schools to remit the deductions of the taxes of their staff and pay for their licences.â€
Kawonise accused the private school operators of politicizing an otherwise simple matter, wondering why the association would resort to blackmailing the government instead of paying their taxes and regularizing their operations.
â€œWhat is the use of bringing pupils and students into this? Are the children the people to pay taxes? They are only trying to bring politics into the matter, which is unnecessary and an attempt to blackmail the government. Let them remit their staff taxes.”