By; Oladele Adedayo, Ado-Ekiti.
Private schools in Ekiti State have embarked on a three day strike aimed at protesting against the imposition of N1,000 development levy per term on pupils by the state Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose.
The State Government had announced N1,000 per term as education development levy for public secondary school while those in primary schools were to pay N500.
While the National Association of Proprietors and Proprietress of Private Schools (NAPPPS) in Ekiti contended that the extension of the levy to private schools runs contrary to the spirit and letters of Section 42(1) (a) and (b) of the 1999 Constitution.
Addressing journalists in Ado-Ekiti,the President of the Association, Alhaji Saka Adeleye said private schools in the state would remain shut for three days to protest multiple taxation from government.
Adeleye wondered why the government extended the levy to private schools that enjoyed no benefit from government, despite paying 12 different taxes imposed on them.
The taxes according to NAPPS President include Annual Renewal Fee, Personal Income Tax, Pay As You Earn for Staff, Personal Development Fee, Registration of Business Premises Fee, Environment Levy, Vehicle Permit fee and Tenement Rate.
“There is no infrastructural development to private schools. Nothing was given to us to develop our schools, all they (government) do is to extort us with taxes. Even during the outbreak of the deadly disease-Ebola-no kit was given to us.
“We use our capital to fund our schools. Not even textbooks, chalks from the government. The government distributed laptops to public school but not only one was given to private schools. So what are we gaining?
“Even if the government decides to reduce the development levy, we are not ready to pay. We have made several attempts to meet the governor but all effort proved abortive.
“Even the meeting we were able to do with the Commissioner for Education (Jide Egunjobi) ended half way as he was summoned by the Governor mid-way in the meeting. He promised to get back to us but till this moment we never heard from him.”
The association described the policy as discriminatory and unconstitutional against NAPPS, which is an employer of over 20,000 workers.
“In view of the foregoing uncontroverted facts, it is practically impossible for members of our chapters to pay the new levy. It is our humble view that our amiable governor has not been well briefed or advised in respect of this matter.
“We call on the ministry to withdraw forthwith all the circular letters relating to payment of the newly introduced development levy in private schools in the state and/or any other development levy.”
NAPPS also urged the governor to look into the unwieldy and/or uncoordinated nature and the arbitrariness and/or unlawfulness of the assessments of other fees currently being paid by their members.