DURING his address to the State House of Assembly on why the bill should be passed into law, Governor Amaechi explained that the law would consolidate all the recent developments in the education and health sectors.
He said: “The question no one is asking is, good idea, we are building new schools, health centres, hospitals, roads; what about sustainability of these projects, which is the key? If we lose this, then we would lose everything we are building.
“We are conscious of the fact that education is not only about building, we are conscious of the fact that for us to have quality education we need good and well-trained teachers and Rivers State government is willing to pay for those teachers. But we are only asking that we need part of the money to feed these students to provide free school uniforms, sandals, and free books… So everybody should join us in making a little contribution towards sustaining these vital services.”
He also used his experience as a child to further demonstrate the need and essence for the contributory law to be in place. “I am from a family of nearly 10(children) and I happen to be the only one who had a university education and my father struggled to put me through university.
We lived in a public compound of about 16 rooms with just one toilet and one bathroom. Most of my very good mates didn’t go to university because their parents could not afford it. Some barely struggled to pass through secondary education. I lost friends that could have been saved if we had a public policy that provided quality healthcare to the people.
I struggled in life, never thinking that I will be privileged to be a governor… I battled for survival which today informs my courage to make a change and make a difference.”
For all those protesting against the Rivers State Social Services Contributory Levy Law, three per cent of your annual basic salary or not more than N50,000 annually, cannot be compared to the lives that will be saved if the affordable health care programme continued; it can equally not be compared to the quality of life that our children, whether rich or poor, will have if they acquired quality education.
Like Governor Amaechi has said, criminality would be greatly reduced if our children are being educated. “We need to be able to provide for the needy, we need to be able to provide for those who can’t afford it.
“If the rich want to live in a conducive environment, you must give opportunity to the poor to also strive for the better environment and a better life. If you don’t do that you will not live peacefully because the people who come to rob are not the rich, they are children of the poor and they are doing that in protest of the inability of government to provide them a conducive atmosphere and environment for them to survive.”
This is a clarion call to every well meaning Rivers indigene and resident to reflect deeply, look beyond the bias and understand the basis of this law; and contribute to the growth of Rivers State .
Mr. Iyofor is Senior Media Adviser to Governor Amaechi of Rivers State.