…says his administration committed to teachers’ welfare, building solid foundations
Oyo State Governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde, has told teachers in the employment of the state under the aegis of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) that his administration would continue to work with them to address the challenges facing the education sector in the state.
The governor maintained that his administration has contributed huge resources to improving the standard of education and building solid foundations capable of transforming the sector, as according to him, once the foundation is right in education, a lot of people would be lifted out of poverty.
A statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Makinde, Mr Taiwo Adisa, indicated that the governor stated these on Friday, while hosting the leadership of the NUT at the Executive Chambers of the Governor’s Office, Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan.
The statement noted that the governor further assured that the present administration in Oyo would deliver on its commitment to the welfare and well-being of teachers.
According to the governor, his administration has made commitment to deploying resources to education and has been consistent in pursuing that commitment, with two tranches of over N500 million each already disbursed as Education Grants to primary and secondary schools in the state for two terms, noting, however, that lack of transparency and accountability on the part of some bad eggs among the teachers has remained a challenge.
He stated that he would not be discouraged by the actions and inactions of a few bad eggs from pursuing the commitment to put in place solid foundations in the education sector, as he called on the teachers to support the government in its drive to ensure accountability and value for the resources committed to the sector.
He said: “I have listened to the long list of requests; from board appointments to SUBEB and TESCOM, the leave bonus, the people that were wrongfully dismissed. Also, the issue of the Permanent Secretary at the zonal level.
“By my own records, we have about 40,000 teachers in Oyo State but I am being told that we have about 30,000. There is a difference of about 10,000, this shows that there is something wrong. I want to thank you for your support on the verification exercise.
“Yes, we do have problems with teaching and they are being addressed, but you supported us and showed confidence in this administration. I want to commend you.
“The truth is that administrations would come and go, but our state will remain. Whatever it is that our state is doing right now, we have to take the interest of the state as paramount. Just like the chairman of NUT said, some people didn’t tar the roads to the teachers’ houses, we will tar them now. But I will need your support, because we do have the Anti-Corruption Agency of the state, though the body is yet to be fully operational, because we are trying to put things together as regards the membership and the operational model.
“For now, I have taken it upon myself to monitor the education sector, because we have committed money into it and we want to get value for the money. However, the feedback that I’m getting has not been encouraging. First, I have had to let a woman go because she was collecting money illegally from teachers to get promotion and the like. There is also a case of four people collecting money at TESCOM. They are going to be dismissed and prosecuted. It is a painful decision but we have to do it in order to get value for the money being committed to the sector.”
On the welfare of teachers, Governor Makinde reiterated the commitment of his government to ensuring that the welfare of teachers is given utmost priority, saying: “If we have issues concerning the welfare of teachers, we will try our best to ensure that they are taken seriously. I will address the issues that surrounding the welfare of teachers. It will be a priority for this administration. So, there is no need for corrupt practices.
“What was mentioned today about the limits with SUBEB and TESCOM, we will look at it and ensure that it is at par with the rest of the civil service. If there are challenges in there, we will find solution to those challenges.
“Please, let them know that we are ready to address the welfare issues. Almost 40 per cent of the workforce in this state are NUT members, so if we have 40 per cent doing it the right way, we only need slightly above 10 per cent for the state itself to have an outlook of a place where things are done correctly. If you need seminars to be organised or whatever it is that you need to do, even if you need me to personally address them, because if we get it right in this sector it’s a long-term investment, we will do it.”
On the issue of corruption in the education sector of the state, the governor warned that it will no longer be business as usual, insisting that the government would demand 100 per cent accountability on its resources committed to education.
He said: “I have had a situation where it took about four to five weeks to answer a simple question. They came seeking approval for the next grant and I asked for the breakdown of how the grant was distributed. It’s nothing extra-ordinary but accountability. It’s not a small amount of money; about N500 million. But they brought back incomplete documents after about four to five weeks.
“I still approved the second term grant while looking for the return on that of the first term. There has to be accountability; it cannot be business as usual. Even as regards the books distributed, I approved money for logistics to transport the books to each zone. But the feedback I got was that money was collected to transport the books from the principals of those schools. All these are challenges and these are areas where I need your assistance. I need you to enlighten your people. It is not easy to get me to give up. It is a foundation that if we get it right, we would get a lot of people out of poverty. Once the education sector is right, we would produce graduates that are employable.
“We have made the commitment to deploy the resources. But the few bad eggs are causing damage and it is shameful. When people are caught doing the wrong thing, they keep going to people who may have influence on the officials to blackmail or plead and they even use the leadership of religious organisations, making you think that if I don’t forgive them then I’m going to hell. But I am not going to back off from doing the right thing; if they know this, then they will do the right thing too. Out of about 10 corruption cases that have come to my notice, 80 per cent of them are from the education sector.”
While speaking earlier, the Oyo State NUT Chairman, Comrade Samson Adedoyin, presented a plethora of requests to the governor, adding that his members were ready to support the government’s initiatives to improve the standard of education.
He said: “We thank you for taking education to a higher level in Oyo State and that is why many parents have been withdrawing their wards from private schools to public schools. The previous government reduced the salaries of teachers, but on assumption of office, you made the salary of teachers to be at par with that of other workers.”
He also told the governor that in support of the administration’s directive, the teachers have stopped collection of illegal fees in the schools.