…Accuses education Commissioner of frustrating programmes
By Davies Iheamnachor, Port-Harcourt
Youths said to be students of Port Harcourt Technical and Vocational Center, PHTVC, have staged a peaceful protest against the Rivers State Government over alleged abandament of the skills training centre.
The protesters claimed that staff members of the centre have attracted attention of World Bank to run the centre after the state abandoned it, but regretted that Commissioner for Education, Kaniye Ebeku, was frustrating every effort to reopen the centre.
They particularly pleaded with Governor Nyesom Wike to prevail on Ebeku to allow the free training of Rivers State Youths in Port Harcourt to go on, adding that students and staff of the centre may shut the state in protest if the centre was not reopened.
Speaking, Oluchi Gift David, one of the protesting students urged the governor of the state to prevail on the education commissioner to allow the centre to resume operations.
Oluchi said: “We are begin the Governor to talk talk to the Commissioner of Education to allow go into this training. We are not Happy. This programme was supposed to start since last year. He should help us and talk to the Commissioner.
Also, another beneficiary, Amadi Monarch, noted that beneficiaries were nominated by local government councils, adding that all the trainees have been left stranded following the action of the Commissioner.
Amadi said: “Since last year we, have been waiting for the commencement of this programme. I enrolled to be a computer operator. I want to have this skill to take care of myself and family.
“This place is ought to have been opened for us to keep off this programme. Once they open here we can start.
“We are pleading with the governor to talk to the Commissioner of Education to give us that access so we can learn and aquire this skills. The Commissioner restricted this particular programme from holding. That is why we are pleading with the governor to prevail on him.”
Meanwhile, a Staff of the Center, Austine Wagor, said all efforts to get the attention of the government through the Commissioner for Education has been turned down. Wagor noted that the facility which was built and equipped with over N500 million of state’s money by the Chibuike Amaechi’s administration has been kept under lock-and-key, calling for speedy intervention by the governor.
Wagor said: “We are here to appeal to our Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, to beg the Commissioner for education to allow us commence the free training of Rivers youths in this centre.
“This centre was equipped with over N500 million by the state government. For over three years now this centre has been lying fallow, nothing is happening there. The staff members and security men have not been paid for over three years now and the Commissioner who is supposed to source for partners, donors for the utilisation of the center.”
He explained that the staff members approached World Bank for support and got same, but bemoaned that the state was frustrating the support. Wagor mentioned that over 10,000 youths would benefit from the programme, but maintained that the education commissioner does not want to programme to survive.
He said: “We the staff went ahead to source for donors through the World Bank, and they have accepted to bring their money to train Rivers State Youths. All we are asking the Commissioner is allow us use the centre to commence this training. But out of his selfish interest the Commissioner restricted the programme.
“We told him that the programme will benefit 10,000 youths of the state, social vice will reduce as youths will be engaged, it will also enhance social and economic growth of the state and will be a credit to this administration, but the Commissioner is frustrating the whole efforts.
“Does he need the people what want to sponsor Rivers State programme for free to give him money? The students for this programme were nominated local government councils. We sent forms across the LGAs to nominate youths that would be trained.
“The Commissioner should please, allow us run tis training. We have written several letters to him begin him. We had also wrote the Commissioner of Police and other offices but he has refused.”
However, the Ministry of Education has said protest was ill fated, claiming that Austin Wagor was not an employee of the state. The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Sir Chidi Adiele, in a statement claimed that not donor has approached the state over the training centre, noting that the claims were false.
Adiele said: “The attention of the Honourable Commissioner for Education Professor Kaniye Ebeku and the Ministry of Education has been drawn to a phoney protest at the Port Harcourt Technical and Vocational School (PHTVC) organized today, by Austin Wagor. It is unfortunate that he could get anybody to listen to him and even record his bogus claims.
“The so-called Austin and his co-travellers have no colour of rights to engage in any form of protest regarding the Port Harcourt Technical and Vocational School (PHTVC). They are not staff of the Rivers State Government now and at any time previously and the government owes them no obligation whatsoever;
“Contrary to what he has falsely and maliciously alleged, no responsible donor or agency, including the World Bank,has approached the Honourable Commissioner for Education, or the Government of Rivers State regarding any offer to give free training to Rivers State Youths at the PHTVC.
“The Ministry of Education challenges any responsible donor who had ever written or approached the Ministry of Education to offer any free training of Rivers State youths in the PHTVC to make that information public.”