By; Bayo Akamo, Ibadan.
Governor Abiola Ajimobi has declared that Oyo state was neithet selling nor privatizing any school under its planned Public Private Partnership of public secondary schoolsin the state.
The governor stated this at the weekend while addressing members of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Oyo State chapter at the state’s executive council chambers.
According to the governor, the present administration in Oyo state meant well by initiating the proposed participatory management of some public secondary schools, and that the government would not abdicate its regulatory roles over such schools even when such partners came on board.
“We are not selling any school. We are not privatizing. Those people will only be our partners and I want to ask you to go out there and help educate our people that Oyo of today is democratic and our policies are hinged on consultation and participation” he said.
Governor Ajimobi stressed further that in the new policy, “before any partner can be allowed to get near our schools, they must have met some stringent conditions. Even in the nearest future, government would still monitor the schools to ensure adherence to standards. We will take the schools back if they fail us”.
Governor Ajimobi added that the state government opted “for dialogue on the proposal knowing full well that the state alone did not have solutions to the myriads of challenges confronting education and other sectors in the state” saying, “good governance is anchored upon transparency, consultation and participation of subjects in the activities of the government”.
Apparently referring to the abortion of the stakeholders forum last week by protesting labour leaders in the state, the governor said “today I’m happy that we have an assemblage of Oyo State students who refused to be used to cause disaffection in our state, especially in our stride to develop education”.
“You all know what went down at the last organized stakeholders’ meeting, which was disrupted. We invited all those that have stakes in education in the state to jaw-jaw on the partnering proposal in education and those without stake, as shown in their behaviors, went there to cause disturbances”.
The governor maintained that “the era of brigandage and wanton destruction of public assets has gone. We would not allow any person or group to draw us back. If anybody has issues to present at the meeting, why didn’t they participate instead of disruption?”, saying, “let me use this opportunity to appeal to our people to guard against being used by those spreading innuendoes and misinformation to shoot down government’s genuine policy that will benefit the majority.”
He however lauded the students for toeing the path of honour and civility in their quest for explanations on the proposed initiative of the government, which was in the best interest of education development in the state, adding that the government was committed to keeping to its promises on qualitative education, which was exemplified by the decision of the administration to allocate 30 per cent of the state’s budget to education.
The governor then urged those interested in playing a role in bringing about major improvement in the state’s post-primary school management to avail themselves of the opportunity provided by the tomorrow’s (Tuesday) rescheduled stakeholders’ forum “to attend the session and contribute to the discourse”.
Speaking, the South-West NANS Zonal Secretary, Mr. Olanrewaju Oloja, said the students visit was to get details about the policy from the governor because of their concern for the welfare of teachers and the future of students in the public schools likely to be affected in the new initiative of the government.
“We decided to embark on this clarification trip, as we are aware that some people would want to derive unnecessary political pleasure in any misunderstanding in the polity. We will not want any of our schools to be privatized.
The assurance we want is to the effect that your government would not retrench teachers or workers and also ask that no student should be forcefully converted to other religions because of a change in the management structure of the schools in question.”