By: ODEYEMI SAMUEL, Akure
The people of Ifedore Local Government Area of Ondo State have petitioned Governor of the state, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu SAN over attempts by the caretaker chairman of the council, Mr. Dipo Ajibola to deprive their children of quality education.
The petition which was contained in a bulk of letters written severally to the state government and made available to journalists in Akure yesterday, lamented that the council chairman had stopped the 19 Daycare Centres in their communities.
In one of the letters to the Speaker, Bamidele Oleyelogun, who hails from the council, on November 20, 2017, titled: “Letter of pleading to save us from sudden death,” the instructors decried upscale maltreatment and victimization.
The people accused the chairman of diverting the monthly allocation meant for the scheme to sponsor thugs and All Progressives Congress members in the community, owing the daycare instructors more than 18 months salaries.
It was gathered that United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in partnership with the state government established the daycare centres in 1990 for children children from six months to three years.
The Osorun of Isarun Community, High Chief Tayo Ibukun, explained that UNICEF and state government handed the programme over to the local government authorities for effective management.
According to him, “I was part of the scheme when it was launched here in Ifedore by UNICEF and state government. Ifedore was one of the five pilot councils of the programme and it later extended to others due to the high level of successes recorded.
“The centres help to train, educate, care and maintain children age six to three months so as to develop their mental attitude as young stars before getting to primary and secondary schools.”
Ibukun, who disclosed that it is an effective initiation into education, noted that the programme had increased the enrolment of children into primary school education since it commenced in the community over two decades ago.
“Instead of mothers strapping their kids to the farm under the hot sun and in the rain, the children are brought to the centres where the instructors take care of them till their mothers come back from the farm or markets.
“In Isarun alone, several of the children who started the programme are now graduates and highly placed individuals just because they were given the opportunity to attend school early.”
One of the instructors, Mrs Veronica Mogaji, who manages CAC Primary School, Igbara-Oke, with over 80 pupils in the daycare centre, lamented that all efforts to persuade the chairman fell on deaf ears.
“We prevailed on the Ministry of Health Commissioner, Wahab Adegbenro, whose ministry superintends the programme and ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development to intervene but to no avail.
“The chairman confirmed that the money was actually received monthly from the state government but it is used to maintain thugs and used as patronage to members of his party in Ifedore Local Government Area,” she said.
Mogaji revealed that they were invited for screening and verification exercise on Wednesday March 28, 2018, lamenting that they had not got any feedback on it as at press time.
While the instructor at the Apostolic Primary School, Ilara-Mokin, Mrs Dupe Onifonboyede, with 20 pupils, said successive governments in other councils of the state had co-opted their colleagues in other councils as staff of the LGAs.
Onifonboyede revealed that the nonpayment of the N10, 000 stipend paid to them monthly, though other neighbouring councils had increased theirs, had meted untold hardship and penury on them, resulting to death of some of them.
The instructors, displaying their appointment letters, stressed that the council chairman should take formal steps if he wanted to disengage them; and must pay them the 18 months salaries the council is owing them.
But the caretaker chairman refuted the allegations, confirming that “when we came on board we realised that those who call themselves instructors, there is money given to us for ad-hoc staff and part of the money being paid for corps members, security agencies; and we were giving them some of this money.”
Ajibola explained that the council later realized that some of the instructors were using their mothers’ appointment letters after their mothers who were directly engaged had passed on but receiving their salaries.
“We now said that since your mother has died, your mother’s certificate cannot be transferred to you. Also one woman from Ilara-Mokin using her own school to collect money from the state government through the programme.
“After all this, we now told them that government doesn’t recognize instructors, the idea of the whole thing was this,” he said, revealing that it was proscribed after the LGA discovered the fraud.
“Besides, most of them are doing other jobs. We later recruited some people in the local government and that was what really happened.”
Refuting the fund’s diversion to sponsor thugs, Ajibola said, “We don’t have any thug in Ifedore and we are a peaceful people, we have never had any violence report since. If they said we are using the money to pay thugs they are not being fair.”