By; MOHAMMED KAWU, Bauchi
Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed has said that his administration will soon embark on total war against ignorance and bad practices in the education sector of the state.
“I’m not fighting anybody because I want war, but because of the death of responsibility, I’m ashamed that I’m a governor of a state which has the largest number of out of school children”, he said.
Senator Bala Mohammed who was speaking while signing commitments for the upliftment of standard of education in Bauchi, assured of employing 1, 000 school teachers into the services of state government before his administration reaches 100 days in office.
One hundred and twenty youths advocates supported by UNICEF in collaboration with Bauchi SUBEB and HILWA mobilizes stakeholders in the education sector to strive for increased access to safe and quality education for children, especially girls.
The youth have hitherto undergone three-day capacity building on mobilization and advocacy as part of the activities commemorating the Day of African Child 2019 organized by Bauchi State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB).
The Day of the African Child (DAC) initiated by the Organization of African Unity (OAU), now African Union is being celebrated on June 16 every year since 1991 to honour children who were killed in the Soweto uprising of 1976 while protesting that they be taught in their own local language.
The occasion is being celebrated internationally to advocate and raise awareness on the situation of out of school children which Nigeria has 10.1 million aged 5 t0 14, most of them girls, with Bauchi state having the highest number in the federation of 1.2 million.
The leader of the youth, Tawakkaltu Salawuddeen said their objective is also to engage Bauchi decision makers and get them to affirm that the SDGs and Agenda 2063 cannot be achieved without attention to the substantial number of out of school children in the state.
She explained that they are collectively working to ensure that all children, especially girls’ access safe and quality education, hence their resolve to secure the commitment of the state governor, Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed and his government to prioritize Bauchi state’s children rights to education in his agenda of governance.
The Governor who cheerfully welcome the youth to Government House told them that Saturday while on funeral prayer for late Senator Babayo Garba Gamawa was opportune to inspect a school in Zaki LGA that has more than 1, 500 pupils, had all its infrastructure destroyed over the last three years.
He said, “The school has no dormitories, no classrooms, no laboratories, nothing. And yet I saw some pupils sitting on bare ground, it is one of the most pathetic story of Bauchi state. How we have degenerated from one of the best in the country in terms of achievement of cot marks, and human capital production that we serve ourselves and even export to the national arena”.
“Today, the story is so dismal. UNICEF, we thank you most sincerely. We have to really tell ourselves the truth. I must also congratulate our youth for waking up to the call of duty to corporate social responsibility of doing this advocacy for all of us”.
The governor said however that the major culprit in the saga is the government of Bauchi state as, according to him, successive governments and institutions have not done anything to uplift the standard of education in the state.
He noted that the state has every year getting subventions, but because of the inept and clueless of such institutions like SUBEB, the state is not able to access money to address some of the infrastructural gaps in the education sector.
According to him, without basic infrastructure, the state cannot address the problems of education, adding “without school accommodation, without trained teachers, you cannot impact knowledge, and that is the situation”.
Governor Bala Mohammed also regretted that the Bauchi has the prevalence of ghost teachers in all the local governments with 20% ghost workers in the entire state’s payroll, hence the urgent need to declare war on such bad practices.
“My own shivery will be is to fight ignorance and bad practices, to fight incompetence and deliberate corruption in the educational system”, saying the system is a rot to the extent the UNICEF alone cannot do it, hence the need for all hands on deck”.
The governor, who also holds the traditional title of Kauran Bauchi said, “Most of our primary schools’ roofs have been blown-off, our teachers and children are schooling under trees even in Bauchi metropolis, yet SUBEB is there”.
He wondered how the out-going SUBEB chairman in Bauchi become so recalcitrant and cantankerous to award contracts when the funds for such purposes were not even accessed from the federal government.
“The SUBEB chairman decided to test the waters, it dared me and dared the Government of Bauchi state with Kauran Bauchi as the leader. I’m going to prosecute him very soon, because he awarded the contracts without even the money to pay, you don’t award contracts without accessing the money”.
The governor further observed that the SUBEB chairman want to use the money the same way such was used before to serve his and other stakeholders’ political interests.
Other commitment the governor signed included the systematic repositioning of the education system with a view to address problems of basic education right from the Local Education Authorities (LEAs) in the Local Government Areas of the state.
Kaura thanked UNICEF for the training of 1, 000 female teachers which he earlier signed the commitment of his government for giving them employment within his first 100 days in office, assuring that he would closely work with SUBEB and LEAs to remove all the infractions, absurdities, and unpatriotic elements in the system.
Governor Bala who also holds the title of Dokajin Bwari declared, “We came to government fully prepared and equipped and informed, and we are therefore going to take informed decisions and initiatives. The kind of audit we are going to do is not the type that was done before, it is going to be very systematic and realistic”.
“Each Local Government will be audited by a different consultant, by people who know it. I will make the people who are part of the problems to remove the problems”, he stated.
The governor observed that out of school children is not about facilities or infrastructure, but rather about the responsibility of the government to pay its dues, salaries, wages, pensions and gratuities to enable people pay their children’s school fees.
He assured the youth leader of signing all the requests for the benefit of the people of Bauchi state, saying that government will work with them to set timelines and milestones with suggestions from them for way forward.
Kaura told the youth, “We want achieve the milestones and we will do it with you, whose eyes have been opened, who have seen light at the end of the tunnel, because you know the enormity of the problems, and therefore you will become the first structure that we must harness, nourish and use to take us to the next level”.
Governor Bala similarly revoked all the contracts spuriously awarded by SUBEB to purportedly address infrastructure and service gaps in primary basic education, saying his administration is poised to manage cash flow and will not spend money only on security vote where a governor constantly travel to Abuja collecting N30 million on each trip.
He expressed regret that resources of Bauchi state were in the past three years subjected to riot act with people taking away money with impunity, and urged UNICEF and UKAid to assist the state government in building the capacity of its workers, as its ready to set machinery in motion for the establishment of robust multi-lateral desk at SUBEB.
Kaura, also revealed of his government’ robust master economic plan to be launched soon and be manned by best brains in collaboration with international community, multilateral bodies, patriotic local people like Tawakkaltu Salawuddeen, HILWA and other stakeholders with a view to bring out Bauchi state from the avidities of maladministration.
Tawakkaltu Salawuddeen had earlier recalled the 2015 National Education Data Survey (NEDS) which shows that female net and gross attendance rate at preprimary schools are 6.3% and 13.8% respectively, while gross enrolment rate of girls in primary one stands at 45%, with female literate constituting 18.74% of the total population.