By Dayo Johnson
Crisis is brewing between parents of pupils in Private secondary schools, owners of the schools in Ondo state and the state government over the extension of the implementation of the Residency card otherwise known as “Kaadi Igbeayo” to private schools across the state. They are kicking against state government somersaulting policy which directs parents and owners of private schools to key into the programme meant for only public schools.
Vanguard gathered that government through its Education ministry issued a directive to owners of private secondary school to impress it on parents of pupils. In their schools to present the pin numbers of their Residency card before admission back to school. The state government had on pupils resumption in schools across the state for the current term made the presentation of of the card by parents a condition for registration and participation of students in both internal and external examinations.
The examinations include entrance exam into public and unity secondary schools, Junior secondary school certificate exam as well as NECO and WAEC exams in the state. But the sudden extension of the policy by government to parents of pupils in private schools and owners of such schools has started to generate stiff reactions from them. The governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko while launching the Residency Card in July last year said it’s introduction is to facilitate the identification of all residents of Ondo so as to deliver to them, directly, the inherent social and welfare programmes contained in his administration’s 12 –point programme to the people of the state.
Governor Mimiko declared that the “card will be the prerequisite for all residents of the state to access government facilities. “it is a no card, no access, plan”, which would bar those without it from any of the government’s heath care, economic and educational benefits
APC takes on Ondo govt
But the opposition party in the state – APC, then kicked against the introduction of the card describing the project as a “mega fraud,” aimed at justifying the billions of naira wasted on the programme in the last six years. Chairman of the party, Hon Isaac Kekemeke said “this is one of the projects the state government started some six years ago when Governor Mimiko came into office. People talk about social security card when there is no security.
“They said it is to access social services. Where are the services? Where are the water, roads and all they have promised? It is a mega fraud,” . However, in compliance with the state government directive owners of Private schools in the state were last week issued letters to parents of their pupils on the government policy requesting for their pin numbers. A copy of the letter which was showed to Vanguard by one of the owners of the private schools reads in part “ the state government through the ministry of Education has directed all private and public schools in Ondo State to get and collate the pin numbers of parent’s resident cards( Kaadi Igbeayo)as one of the requirements for admission.
“ We shall be very appreciative if the pin number can be forwarded to us before the deadline. Some parents questioned the introduction of the policy in private schools where government services is not being enjoyed by parents who sent their wards to. Private schools. “ Why is government now extending this policy to private schools where we do not enjoy government services. Why must it be made compulsory in private schools.
Vanguard gathered from some owners of the schools that government has threatened to sanction any of the private schools which failed to complied with the directive . In an interview, the President of the Association of proprietors of Private Schools in the state Steven Abitogun accused government of infringing on their rights. Abitogun said a meeting between the association and officials of the ministry of Education when the policy commenced last year indicated that that the card was meant for those that are to enjoy the social facilities of the state government.
He wondered why the implementation has to be extended to private schools in the state. According to him” for what purpose has the implementation extended to private schools?v would it mean that if a student fails to present the card will that private school send out that student from. The school. “Private school is a private business enterprise. The residency card is a public policy and not a private policy.
Speaking on the presentation of the card as condition for sitting for exams in the state, Abitogun said that “ if the. Kaadi Igbeayo is made as a condition that may raise a constitutional matter. The issue of WAEC registration falls under the concurrent list. “If the Federal government has not made a registration or law to the effect that Kaadi Igbeayo should be made a condition precedent for registration for WAEC it means no state can promulgate such laws and. If any state does it is tantamount to ultra-vires of the power of such state.
Also, the opposition party, All Progressive Congress APC, in its reaction warned that the introduction of the policy in schools may portend danger for the education and future of children in the state. The party’s Director of Publicity Steve Otaloro said “ this is sheer wickedness and extortion on the part of government. “ The no card, no entry to schools policy is recklessness and uncaring. Technology is designed. To make life more comfortable for the masses and was never conceived as an instrument of terror as the government of the state is now going about it.
Otaloro called on the people of the state to condemn the imposition of the card as condition for admission or sitting for examinations in the state. “ It is evident the intention of the government is to generate revenue hence the compulsory enforcement of the policy to cover the shortfall in the state resources that is seriously in bad shape due to bad governance. Otaloro argued that there are other ways of making money by government without” necessarily affecting the education and future of our young ones whose parents are incapacitated financially due to the non payment of three months salaries, pension, gratuities and allowances by the same government.
However, the Pioneer Coordinator of the State Information Technology Development Centre, Tunji Ariyo has equally condemned the payment of N2,000 for the card before accessing government facilities in the state.
Ariyo said the state government does not need to compound the woes of its citizens especially during the austere period by compelling them to pay for the card.
“The governor was quoted as stating that “it is a no card, no access, plan” and that they intend barring those without cards from any of the government’s heath care, economic and educational benefits.
“Information Technology is designed to make life more comfortable for the masses. It was never conceived as an instrument of terror as the government of Ondo State is now doing.
But the state government speaking through the Education Commissioner Jide Adejuyigbe appealed for calm over the introduction of the policy in private schools.
Adejuyigbe denied that the state government had no intention of denying any pupil access to education in the process of enforcing the policy on Kaadi Igbeayo.
According to him “ the residency card is not only for the public sector and private sector. It covers all sectors of the state’s economy. The importance of the card is to enable government to plan and help further research and planning.
“ We need the cards in all schools to know the numbers of pupils we have, the enrolment into schools.
The commissioner said that the state government is not charging any private. School to pay for the collation of the pin numbers because we assume everybody had already had it.
“ We are not saying that any school should send any student away. What we are asking for is the photocopy or the pin numbers.
Adejuyigbe speaking on the presentation of the card as condition for sitting for exams said that” We are only saying that to push people to do the needful.
He noted however that the state government had recorded about 90percent success.
But parents and owners of Private schools alleged that government was economical with the truth on the issue.
While the parents argued that such policy ought not have have been extended to them since they do not enjoy any government facilities in the private schools, the owners of the schools said government has threatened to sanction them if they failed ensure that all parents of their pupils present the residency card.
Findings by vanguard indicated that owners of the schools have started to implement the policy as many pupils in primary and secondary schools were sent home for failure to present their parents Kaadi Igbeayo.
The implementation of the cards has been enforced in government hospitals, transport sector, Okada operators amongst others.
Vanguard findings showed that many of the owners of private schools may have capitulated because their licenses with government are still pending and may have been surreptitiously threatened to either comply or forfeit their licenses.