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1,000 Naira Per Term, SGB Policy; Ajimobi Was Right After-all! | Morufu Smith
To the Meritorious Memory of late Senator Abiola Ajimobi 1949-2020
There’s no unscrupulous extent our politicians cannot go in order to gain popularity and clinch public offices. An example is the story of Governor Seyi Makinde and Oyo State’s education. The foregoing feature will show how the present Executive Governor of Oyo State used the education and future of Oyo youths to ‘fly kite’ in order to accord to himself cheap popularity and undeserved acceptance from the hoodwinked people of Oyo State. Here’s how it started.
Late former Governor Abiola Ajimobi did not just wake up one day and decide to inflict financial pains on parents in the state by way of introducing a thousand naira development levy to be paid by each Junior Secondary student in the State. Abiola Ajimobi ran free education, paying WAEC fees throughout his first term in office. Paucity of funds to fund education during Ajimobi’s second term as engineered by global/national recession which ensured that all states in Nigeria, excluding Lagos and Rivers, were unable to pay salaries, allowances, pensions, gratuities and carry out other developmental projects in their states. Education being one of the most important priorities of Ajimobi administration, the late Governor came up with the idea of education summit where well-meaning sons and daughters of Oyo State and other stakeholders in education would brainstorm on how to ensure there was adequate funding for education. It was at the education summit, chaired by the former Minister of Industry, Chief (Mrs) Onikepo Akande, the beautiful wife of Chief Adebayo Akande, Chairman of Splash FM, that recommendations of payment of one thousand naira per junior secondary school student development levy and establishment of Schools’ Governing Boards were made, among other recommendations. Late Former Governor Ajimobi, having realized the merits of the far-reaching recommendations, approved the recommendations while payment of one thousand naira development levy and establishment of SGBs to manage the funds to be realized came into effect. Then, the population of secondary students in Oyo state was 400,000 and an average total of 400 Million Naira was being realized per term from the payment of the levy, amounting to 1.2 Billion Naira per session. It was the proceeds from the payment of development levy by the students, being managed by SGB of each school that was being used as running grants by principals of secondary schools to keep schools running.
On assumption of office, in fact, right at the inauguration ground, Governor Seyi Makinde announced the abolition of the one thousand naira development levy as well as the proscription of SGB policy. To be seen as business-ready, towards the end of 2019, Governor Makinde released a sum of Five Hundred and Twenty-Six Million Naira (526,000.000) as running grants to 2,500 Primary Schools and 640 Secondary Schools in Oyo State for the first term of 2019/2020 Academic Session. Since then, Seyi Makinde has not released another running grants to the schools after over six (6) terms! We are in 2021/2022 Academic Session now! Earlier this year, when Governor Makinde was alleged of starving schools of running grants in the State, he gave a watery excuse that authorities of the schools failed to render accounts of the 526 Million Naira released to them in 2019, hence his refusal to release more funds. What Governor Makinde did not tell the people of Oyo State was that the honeymoon of his populist policy is over since he has achieved his aim of scoring cheap political points and ephemeral acceptance of his government. Immediately, after the pronouncements during his inauguration as governor of abolition of one thousand per term development levy, Governor Makinde and his cajoled supporters went to town, spreading ‘cheering’ news of increase in registration of pupils and students in public schools as a result of his ‘sterling’ educational policy. Yet, when he wanted to release the first and only running grants to schools, he used the earlier population of 2,500 pupils in primary schools and 640 students in secondary schools, left behind by the administration of late Senator Abiola Ajimobi. What a way to hoodwink the unsuspecting masses of Oyo State!
Just this week, the Oyo State House of Assembly called on Governor Seyi Makinde to release another running grants to schools for the smooth running of the schools. The lawmakers decried the paucity of funds being suffered by Oyo schools which hindered them from providing necessary and relevant infrastructures and educational materials for pupils and students. The lawmakers confirmed that the last running grants released to schools in Oyo State was for the first term of 2019/2020 Academic Session.
What one finds unfortunate is that despite the increase in the federal allocations accrued to Oyo State since the country is out of recession, Governor Makinde could not meet the financial needs of schools in the state.
As we speak, there are reports that Oyo State Government under Seyi Makinde is considering returning SGB policy. We may well be expecting that one thousand per term per student will also be returned since the present administration appears helplessly clueless as to how to fund education in the State. To show that Governor Makinde is paying lip service to education, a sum of 26 Billion Naira was said to have been allocated to the Governor’s Office out of over 294 Billion Naira 2022 Budget! This is a sad testimony that Governor Makinde places more premium on finances of Governor’s Office than finances of education in Oyo State.
Late Former Governor Abiola Ajimobi must be heaving a sigh of satisfied relief in his grave that he took the right steps and did his best to move education forward in Oyo State.