By Demola Akinyemi
The passion of Governor Abdulrazaq Abdulrahman of Kwara state to restore the glory of education in the state can best be described as legendary considering the pragmatic steps he had been taking to identify the problems and plan to tackle them.
He had been doing this by technically boycotting the usual window dressing protocols of the sycophantic civil servants with unscheduled visits to various sensitive and non sensitive governments ministries and parastatals since he assumed office.
Speaking in an interview with press men in the Ministry of education on Thursday,at the symbolic flag off ceremony of distribution of free exercise books to pupils and students of public primary and secondary schools across the state, the governor declared that,’’We want to restore this state back to number one in Northern Nigeria.That is our aim.’’
In view of this, out of over 100 schools identified for total renovation,31 of them have been approved for complete renovations while free exercise books,Big notes and higher education have also been printed at the cost of N75M set to be given out to the students in public schools.
Commissioner for education, Hajia Fatimah Ahmed, herself a teacher, in her speech at the ceremony commended Governor Abdulrazaq for the giant strides which include settlement of outstanding arrears of N55,077,00.00 feeding allowance of Exchange students owed before the advent of his administration, sponsorship of 1000 brilliant indigent students of the state for 2020 UTME/JAMB at a cost of N5M ,payment of N30.5M imposed by WAEC as fine over examination in some schools among several others he has been making since he took over.
Education Commissioner Fatimah Ahmed also commended the Governor for his giant strides in the sector, including the establishment of an ICT centre in the school for special needs.
Ahmed said the administration has also provided N5m worth of teaching aids and other basic equipment at the special needs school, sponsored the 2019 common entrance, and the recent approval of routine training for teachers on the state.
The Commissioner however appealed to the governor for the approval of N15.5m still owed various handlers and service providers for the 2018 state joint mock examination.
Stakeholders in education in the state who were also in attendance,made complimentary remarks about the activities of the current administration since its assumption of office.
State Chairman of Nigerian Union of Teachers[NUT],Alh Toyin Soliu in his goodwill message at the ceremony said,’’ Sincerely speaking we have never had it so good, we appreciate His Excellency because he has recognized our profession ,education has been taken care of, from the rear to the top. The appointment of a practicing teacher as our commissioner is the icing on the cake for us,you have done well for us’’.
Similarly, ANCOPPS state president, Alh Toyin Abdullahi said ,’’Today, His excellency has made history in the lives of our people because you have proved beyond reasonable doubts that you are an epitome of decency and good governance, a silent achiever. You bailed us out of our several crisis in our secondary schools.We are very grateful.’
The Governor in his address said he was flagging off the rehabilitation of 31 public schools across the state, a step he said signalled the beginning of a new era for the education sector in the state.
AbdulRazaq earlier flagged off the exercise in Baboko Community Secondary School in the capital city Ilorin where three blocks of six classrooms are to be fully rehabilitated and fixed with modern information communication facilities.
The rehabilitation of the Baboko school is to last six weeks.
The Governor explained that the 31 schools are the first phase of the rehabilitation he said is required to gradually guarantee decent learning environment for the children.
The school rehabilitation flag off occurred barely one hour after AbdulRazaq supervised the distribution of 932,572 free copies of customised 20, 40 and 80 leaves of exercise books for public school children in Kwara State.
”The lack of conducive learning environment and longstanding failure to properly fund education — we last accessed UBEC fund in 2013 — can explain rampant incidents of examination malpractices. We are working to end this menace and return Kwara to the top of the table in the north central and beyond,” he said.
AbdulRazaq also said that the government will soon hold an education summit bringing together all the stakeholders and private sector players to discuss the challenges and evolve with workable solutions.
Speaking in an interview after the ceremony the governor commended the civil servants for their endurance saying, “’I also want to thank the civil service for the jobs they have been doing,if you allow the civil service to do their jobs you will get good service delivery.Keep up the good work and the government is set to work with you to deliver its agenda.’’
Abdulrazaq stressed,’’As you can see in education sector, not too much has been achieved since 2013,we are starting the reconstruction of our schools with 31 schools though over about 100 schools need immediate attention.Its sad that all our major schools are in deplorable conditions and it’s a shame to talk about it.
‘’We have seen the conditions the teachers have been working but we cant fix the problems in one day.We thank you for staying on the job and doing your best for these students.’’
To the students Governor Abdulrazaq said,’’ We wish you had met a perfect system, something to build on .Today we could have been talking about free education but the money we supposed to use for free education is what we are now using in rebuilding our schools from the scratch.’’
Knowing full well that the task is enormous,he however solicited for assistance from other key players in the sector to assist the state government.
His words, ’I implore Parents associations, old boys and girls to also do their best for the schools and assist government in doing what we want to do.We want to restore this state back to numder one in Northern Nigeria.That is our aim.’’He said.