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Oyo’s N3000 school fees debacle | By Festus Adedayo

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DID Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State realize that, in his first official pronouncement on May 29, 2019 stopping the payment of N3000 by school pupils, he had unwittingly provoked a strong ideological sentiment which had been bottled overtime? Discussions on this issue have polarized indigenes and residents along divides of ideology, class and beliefs.

My confession: I was very upset with the new governor at this pronouncement. Not strictly on the pedestal of ideology, I felt Makinde was merely playing to the gallery. Why would a governor stop the payment of a meager fee of N3000, payable by parents and guardians in 365 days, approximating a little less than a hundred naira per day, an amount that has helped, no matter how insignificantly, in putting public education at whatever level it was in the state?

If there was one issue on which the ex-Governor of the state, Abiola Ajimobi, received ceaseless strictures in reviews of his 8-year tenure, the state of education and health was at its apogee. In the midst of this welter of criticisms, the former state helmsman however claimed that he performed to his optimal on these scores. He cited some model schools, some renovated schools and a few others as anchor of his performance. At campaign podia however, Makinde consistently attacked this Ajimobi optimum, claiming that there was the need to declare an emergency on education in Oyo. He gave graphic census of decaying school infrastructure, bludgeoning number of children per class, embarrassingly huge number of out-of-school children, disorientation of teachers due to governmental disincentive policies and the departure of the philosophy of academy in schools whose major preoccupation should be academics. But, was stopping the payment of N3000 a logical anchor of this proposed reform?

Kudos, condemnations, in equal measure, poured for Makinde on this maiden pronouncement. I belonged to the category of those who erected the crucifix for him to mount. My averments were as follows: By it, Makinde merely worsened the indolence and irresponsibility of many a Yoruba parent who are gradually mimicking the irresponsible model of Northern Nigerian parenting where a horde of kids are brought to life and dumped on the laps of society. This irresponsible parenting is the bane of the social crises of violence and insurgency that Nigeria is grappling with at the moment. If a parent cannot afford to pay N100 per day for 365 days on a child he sired, he is not worthy of being the vehicle of birthing such a child to life, I believe. Awareness of giving education to kids is far more acute in Southern Nigeria today. We are ready to sell all we have in this regard. In the morning, you will see the driver shouldering his child on the way to the Nursery school. He is suddenly aware that the difference between you, his boss and him is not that you are more brilliant but your parents gave you education and his didn’t. He thus doesn’t want his child’s fate to be like his.

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More significantly is that many of this same set of parents that Makinde’s spike of N3000 fees is abetting “declare” drinks at beer parlours, spend sums in excess of this amount at Owambe gigs but are reluctant to contribute to impacting their children to live meaningful lives. Also of note is the Yoruba ancient wise saying that a talisman put in phial that is not procured by the pain of monetary consideration idles away behind the fireplace in the kitchen. Parenting should come with some measure of pains – pains of birth, scampering hither thither at children’s infancy and raising the child. Parenting in leisure is un-enduring. I-Roy, Jamaican reggae star, once parodied the biblical maxim of man being made to suffer and woman created to feel the pains (on account of their children).

My second beef was Makinde’s ostensible haste that would not allow him to wait a little while to weigh the financial muscle of the state he had just been sworn in to govern before making this consequential pronouncement. At a discussion on the issue later however, someone told me that the governor had, in an interview he granted before his swearing in, summed up the number of pupils in the state at about 400,000 and approximating the amount accruable from the fee payment to government to be in the neighbourhood of N1.2billion. So, is N1.2billion that negligible and can’t be factored into Oyo’s lean resources? From what I gathered, Oyo’s IGR and monthly dole-out from FAAC oscillate around N7billion, with a wage bill of slightly above N5billion. If Governor Makinde will ultimately pay the N30000 wage, the wage bill should shoot up to about N9billion, leaving monthly shortfall of close to N2billion. So, wouldn’t N100million that a yearly N1.2billion from the N3000 fee will come to, help, no matter how tiny, in the financial straits that Makinde will confront?

Makinde’s reply to this criticism is said to hang on three prongs. The first is that his May 29 pronouncement was borne out of his commitment to fulfilling promises. The fee cancellation was a solemn promise he made on campaign podia to the people of Oyo State. Whether he should renege or fulfill this promise, he is said to have argued, is a matter of honour. Should Oyo have a honourable helmsman or one who breaks promises at his whim? Of importance is said to be Makinde’s belief that as elite, we are at liberty to disparage the difficulty of procuring N3000 by a parent, our argument being that, it is too token, but that, if you go to Oyo hospitals and see indigent compatriots dying for not having N500 for hospital bills, you will realize that payment of the N3000 was one reason that jerked up the number of children, barely off their diapers, who sell sachet water on Oyo streets.

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Second is said to be Makinde’s unofficial discovery, even before assuming office, that there were a number of willful, selfish bursting of Oyo State resource pipes by some avaricious officials of the exited government, pipes which were then redirected into local and foreign personal accounts. Since he had forswore to run a government that won’t tinker with Oyo people’s patrimony and being a very wealthy man from his private enterprise, Governor Makinde had no qualms dispensing with a negligible funding like N3000 per annum which though looks insignificant but burrowed deep holes in the purses of the ordinary parent in the state. He is said to be of the opinion that, now that the leaked pipes that led to under-declaration of Oyo earnings will be mended by his chastity in government, Oyo will meet its social responsibilities to all sectors, including education. The Makinde school of thought is also of the opinion that his declaration in his inaugural to jerk up the budget of education to 10%, from a paltry 5% at the moment, with a yearly incremental adjustment to meet UNESCO recommendation by the time his 4-year tenure is over, is a further testimony of his abidance by the credo of changing the education landscape and coheres with his commitment to making a difference.

I still stand by my earlier averment that Makinde should not, by whatever mode he is bringing remedy to the sagging morale of the people of the state, indulge the people not to pay whatever is legitimately their role to contribute to the uplift of the state’s finances. Permit me to restate that wise-saying again, to wit that a phial of talisman not procured with cash is always tossed behind the fireplace. For the quality education that Western Nigeria got in the First Republic, the people paid through a properly modulated tax regime. It is on record that Chief S.L. Akintola’s decision as Premier in 1961 to reduce prices of cocoa – being the main export commodity in the Western Region – was one of the core issues that grounded his government.

On January 12, 1961, Awolowo had met Premier Akintola to advise him against the reduction of prices mid-cocoa season, submitting that it would be a breach of faith. Though he promised the Leader he would not, Akintola went ahead to address a press conference on January 13, 1961 to announce new prices of cocoa for the rest of the season. What followed was an immense crisis. Even the Minister of Finance in the NCNC/NPC coalition, Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh, denounced the Akintola government as “not justified in reducing the price of cocoa paid to the producers…to save the Board’s (Marketing) reserve of surplus.”

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Soon, the effects of this reduction began to be felt. On January 4, 1962, Akintola’s Western Regional Minister of Education, Dr. Sanya Onabamiro, addressed a press conference increasing what was called Assumed Local Contributions in Western Nigeria’s Secondary Grammar Schools, school fees in short, to £75 per annum per pupil. The Tribune and other newspapers began a series of attacks on this policy. In a two-part volley of sarcastic and acidic editorials entitled Indefensible, the newspaper derided Akintola’s plan. Even the Daily Express, edited by the irrepressible Aiyekoto, Bisi Onabanjo, joined the fray with an editorial comment it entitled Slowing down progress, to deplore the Akintola policy, calling it “a dishonest piece of work lacking in logic and public good.” Due to these attacks, in a press conference addressed by the Premier himself on January 8, 1962 at the Ikeja VIP residency, the school fees policy was stopped.

I have no doubt in me that Makinde will outperform his predecessors. I also believe that his policies thus far – donation of his salaries, abridgment of the tenure of council heads, review of last-minute decisions of the last government and others were genuine decisions made to eliminate systemic gridlocks that can clog his avowal to restitute Oyo and delink it from the dross of the immediate past. His charge should be to spend the next 100 days erecting solid, visible and logical foundation, especially in education, health and wealth creation. It is then he will be able to totally convince us – the naysayers – that, abridging the payment of N3000 in Oyo State schools was worth it after all.

 

 

 

 

 

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Opinion

Plates of rice | By Tunde Busari

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Without being prematurely critical, I can only fold my arms and sit to see results which the Southwest Security Network (Amotekun) would bring to the geopolitical zone after yesterday’s passing out of 1500 personnel in Oyo town.

Oyo State Governor Engineer Seyi Makinde has incontrovertibly blazed the trail since all the Southwest governors loudly spoke in unanimity in 2019 to confront headlong the threatening insecurity in the region. So help them, God.

However, I maintain my reservation on the implementation of the security agenda given what looks like hurried pace with which the Oyo State Amotekun was trained and presented to Governor Makinde yesterday. I’m still not convinced that three weeks training can be adequate to face the monstrous problem at hand.

Yes, reports have it that within the three weeks, members demonstrated full grasp of march past. But march past is ceremonial than operational required now. How many weeks do it take secondary school pupils to learn the art to put up flawless displays at annual inter-house sports fiesta?

Anyway, without being critical, I want to believe that Colonel Olayinka Olayanju, the commandant, has, in the past three weeks, subjected the recruits to appropriate reorientation to meet the public expectations in curtailing crimes. I want to believe intelligence gathering skill was intensively taught and exhaustively explored because, in my view, that’s what should be the strong point of the Amotekun in all the states.

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Let us see the police, civil defence and army in their uniforms. We are used to seeing them. We are familiar with them. Let us, conversely, not see Amotekun. Let Amotekun work like undercover. Let them be anonymous. Let them be faceless. Let them work like ghost. Let them walk like Elemosho in Baba Lere Paimo film.

Should Amotekun members also parade themselves on the streets in their flashy maroon uniform, there is tendency that they will abuse their oath and also end in the convoy of politicians at social gatherings. Later, they would also be struggling and fighting themselves over plates of rice and amala. They would be disgracefully giving compliment to every Dick and Harry, including criminal elements assumed to have some Naira notes to throw at them.

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Opinion

Six Consequences Of Being Stingy

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According to the dictionary, ‘Stingy’ simply means unwilling to share, give, or spend possessions or money. Interestingly, many people are yet to discover that selfishness is one of the reasons they remain the way they are.

This is because there is a step on the ladder of greatness that a selfish person may not go beyond. They could live comfortably but they can never be a world changer.

A good way is to critically look at the consequences of being stingy, which is the opposite of being generous and they are as follows:

Inability to take risks

Since the stingy person does not want to lose anything at all and as a result of that , they might find it difficult to take risk in investment. Businesses is all about risk and the higher the risk, the higher the returns and vice versa. Similarly, religion is all about faith, so people take the risk in faith and that’s why they consult God before investing in any business. The stingy does not have faith because they believe their money will be lost if they take a giant step to move further.

Erode people’s blessings

There is blessing in giving. Therefore, failure to give is failure to get blessing. If the Bible which other religions also shared same sentiment with says, “give and it shall be given unto you”, meaning that if you don’t give , nothing shall be given in returns; because if you do not let go the seed, you cannot reap the fruits.

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Deters business expansion

Selfish people lack human relationship because selfishness send people away from you and no matter how talented you are, if you cannot work with people, you may not go far in business world. Most of the times, when you give , the blessing that would come will come through your business or your job but if you are selfish , the blessing that is supposed to come through the business will be denied and thereby deter the expansion of the business.
Selfish people even finds it difficult to pay salaries of their workers and when the workers are not happy, how can the business expand ?

Loneliness

Being stingy discourages friendships and relationships, thus people would prefer not to associate with such individual. Giving attracts people and where the spirit of giving is lacking, people will not like that person and this may cause loneliness to the fellow

Negative confession

“I do not have” statement have ruined many and they didn’t know. Stingy people always saying negative confession, even when they have more than enough they would still not fall short of this negative confession, “I don’t have ” which is a negative prophecy.

Greed

Investigations revealed that the selfish people are much greedier. They always want to get everything to themselves. They are full of ‘I before others’ attitude. Unfortunately, greediness prevents people from the way to greatness.

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Opinion

#EndSARS: The Melancholic Beats Of A Two-Faced Drum | By Wole Adejumo

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I entered Akinola Maja Street, Jericho, Ibadan and approached the Superintendent of Police who was the most senior officer on the scene and after checking his name tag, I greeted him and identified myself, in my characteristic manner; “my name is Wole Adejumo, I work with The Street Journal”. I told him I noticed unusual movements and I came to check what was going on. “It is nothing serious, just a routine exercise”, he replied. So I stood by, blended with the already gathering crowd and looked on.

As the officers marched the suspects out of the premises of a petroleum haulage outfit, I brought out my camera and clicked away. I had barely taken the second picture when a hand tried to snatch the camera from behind me. I turned round to face the person and ensure that I didn’t lose the camera. Behold, it was a police sergeant and within a minute, another policeman had joined him.

I kept struggling until it crossed my mind that struggling for a camera with two men carrying Kalashnikov rifles might not be a very sensible thing to do, especially with the many cases of ‘accidental discharge’ that I had heard of. Help was not coming from any of the bystanders. I left the camera and almost immediately, the Sergeant bellowed at me, “sit down there”.  Of course seeing that the rifles were no longer on their shoulders but in their hands, my compliance was not delayed.

Right there, I was dispossessed of my phones and voice recorder. Minutes seemed like hours and the two policemen were already accusing me of being a “spy”. They put a call through to their superior officer while I sat there on the asphalt. Fortunately, the phone was on speaker, so I heard the conversation audibly. When the Sergeant reported that they had caught me, the response from the other end was “is it the guy wearing a green shirt and blue trousers? Leave him, he is a journalist”. That was how I got to know that it was the Superintendent at the other end. The Sergeant however gave reasons for which they should hold me. “He is a spy, we caught him taking pictures, sir”, he said. This time, the Superintendent said “don’t mind him, he is a foolish man. Wait for me”.

On his arrival, I was ordered to stand up and move towards the patrol van he rode in. He asked what they took from me. When I told him the items, he looked at the Sergeant and said “return his phones”.

By the time I retrieved the camera from the office of the Police Public Relations Officer later, the pictures had been wiped. My voice recorder was never found! Of course, being an expert in damage control, the PPRO apologized and said they were doing their job just as I was doing mine. He gave reasons we should be friends, especially since we had the same godfather. That was around June, 2010.

It didn’t come as a surprise that the then Superintendent’s name appeared conspicuously on the list of officers rumoured to have been penciled down for reprimand by the Force as a fallout of the Anti-SARS protests. Though the Force debunked the list, it might be an indication that the senior officer in question has always had potentials for controversy.

While I cannot claim to have had an encounter with the now disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), I have friends who cannot say the same.

Way back in 2003, Tunde Aluko was caught in their web twice. The first was when policemen came and claimed that he and two other neighbours were apprehended at the scene of a robbery and they were in SARS custody. The second was when he stopped by at one of the ‘joints’ on Ring Road to buy cigarettes. Gun wielding policemen came and arrested him.

My friend left Nigeria some months after. Why? One of the SARS officers issued him what seemed like a personal threat. “You know this is the second time they would bring you here. You wear designer clothes, expensive watches and jewelries, yet you claim to be a student. If you are brought here a third time, I will shoot you”, the officer told him. Since his mum, who was the source of the designer clothes and watches was not ready to lose him to an embittered policeman’s bullet; she took the all-important steps of taking him out of the country.   

As we already know, SARS is not self-existent; it is a unit in the Police Force. As such, officers in the disbanded unit will be transferred to other units, thus retaining them as members of the Force. They will undoubtedly operate with the same character.

The truth is that the whole Police Force needs to be overhauled. For instance, the officer that shot and killed Jimoh Isiaka during the #EndSARS Protest in Ogbomoso was not from SARS.  Gone are the days when the Force enlisted passionate young people. Not a few of the present crop of policemen are doing the job for want of a better choice. That explains why many officers are unhappy when they see someone that appears to be doing well.

The squalor in the Police College has become an open secret and one wonders how officers trained under such squalid conditions are expected to be happy to secure other citizens.

Quite unfortunately, it is not just a police problem. Earlier in the week, a truck parked on what was supposed to be the fast lane at the popular Mobil Junction leading to Oluyole Estate. Not only did the truck obstinately obstruct traffic, some youths were beside it dancing right there on the road. It was just around 6:50 when people were returning from work. They were marketing a certain “bitters” which was relatively new in the market. They rebuffed my efforts to make them realize that they were wrong to have blocked the road. “Motor wey big pass your own don pass here, oga dey go”, some of them told me as they started banging on my car.

It may not be wrong to infer that from politicians to policemen, community and religious leaders; it is with relentless vigour that people use their positions as tools of oppression and enrichment.

That explains why internet fraudsters suddenly became the prime target of SARS officers. Policemen want money and since Yahoo Boys are cashing out illegitimately, police officers have taken it upon themselves to get a piece of the cake.

Who would blame the policemen? The dilapidation in the average police barrack is more than enough to becloud the vision and competence of even the most upright man in the force. Hardly can any officer living in such an environment give peak performance at work. And sadly, years ago, the Police, SARS inclusive became a tool often deployed by big men to harass people and settle scores.

So when SARS started arresting fraudsters, no one bothered to ask whether powers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) were being usurped or whether the Police Anti-Fraud Unit had become extraordinarily useless to the point of not being able to handle internet fraud.

Given the same opportunity under the same conditions, many of the #EndSARS protesters and by extension, average Nigerians would fare worse than the people they are protesting against. So, it is not just the Police Force that needs reforms, the government of Nigeria at all levels, and every Nigerian needs to be reformed and re-orientated in one way or the other.

While we look towards ending police brutality once and for all, we also need to look into other forms of abuse that have impeded Nigeria’s progress thus far. For instance, the Manager who will not employ a female applicant unless she warms his bed, the female student who is willing to give sex in exchange for good grades, the lecturer who is willing to aid such student, the civil servant who will not move a file unless he gets a tip and the electorate who sell their votes to the highest bidder are all as bad as the police officers we are all criticizing.

Sir Winston Churchill once said “if you are going through hell, keep going”. The youth have channeled a course and with the assurance that there is always light at the end of the tunnel, the journey into a better Nigeria seems to have only just begun.

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