By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Monsur Olowoopejo
LAGOS—Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, yesterday, accused the Federal Government of hiding reasons behind the erratic power supply from Nigerians, lamenting that lack of regular electricity supply had kept the poverty level in the country at its present 33.1 percent.
This came few days after the Federal Government increased the price of gas from $1.50 to $3.30 per metric cubic feet.
Fashola, who spoke at the 2014 edition of the Governor‘s Education Award in Ikeja, however, justified why the state budget allocation to education was 16 percent, 10 per cent less than the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, UNESCO standard.
According to him, “If we do not succeed because those people (central government) are busy lying about electricity, the children in this country will not accept those lies. If they continue with those lies, the next generation of people will solve it. We have done a basic power audit and we have discovered that an average two bedroom flat in Lagos will consume about 1,000 kilowatts of electricity. By generating this power through generating set, he spends N2, 097 daily but if there was public power, the person will be paying about N600 daily. This difference in fund would have been kept if the central government provides power for the citizens.
“This money would have helped to reduce the rate poverty in the country. Such fund would have been used to provide other needs rather than enrich the countries who provide the generating sets. The state government has approved the installation of solar facilities for public schools in the state and the first phase will end May, 2015. 172 schools are captured in the first phase. We are starting with 35 schools in the riverine areas and these schools will serve as the pilot programme. It will be completed before the end of this year.”
On education budget
The governor said the state‘s 16 per cent budgetary allocation to education did not translate to under-funding of the sector, explaining that though the figure was below the 26 per cent recommended by UNESCO, the state government still provided extra-ministerial funding for the development of the sector.
He said, “Classrooms, and school furniture and other capital projects were provided with budgetary allocation of the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure. What we dedicate specifically to education, through the Ministry of Education is not the full and complete extent of what we are spending on education.”
There is for example, a school health programme a school milk programme, which gives milk to our children in order to improve their cells development that is a budget domiciled in the Ministry of Health.
“But that is helping in the Ministry of Education, there is a school`s Eye School Screening Corridor to test the eyes of the pupils all of these initiatives are in the Ministry of Health. There are schools that are flooding, there is waste management in the schools, and issues like these are domiciled in the Ministry of the Environment. By the time you aggregate all of these, I venture to argue that we will be well in excess of the thresholds that are recognized for global standards.”
Fashola said the annual Education Awards was to motivate performance in schools and reward excellence adding that over N1billion had been spent as rewards for outstanding schools since the inception of the award five years ago.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Eko Project, Ms. Ronke Azeez, while speaking on the project, said the initiative put funds in the hands of schools to fund their needs.
According to her, teachers and principals had also been trained under the project in order to empower them with the wherewithal to effectively manage their pupils.
She said the project had helped improve standards as it had improved schools` performance in West African Schools Certificate Examinations (WASCE) by 18.41per cent in 2009 to 41.6 percent in 2013.