Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, Wednesday, 6th August, 2014 announced the approval by the state government of the provision of solar power to all public schools in the state even as 134 junior and senior secondary schools in the state won a total sum of N268 million in this year’s Governor’s Award under the Lagos Eko Project.
Fashola, who spoke at the 10 Degrees Event Centre, Oregun Industrial Estate venue of the event, said the State Executive Council has approved a pilot project of providing solar power in all public schools in the state adding that 172 schools would benefit in the first phase which will run between now and May next year.
According to the Governor, the first phase of the project, which is broken up into two sub-phases, will see about 35 schools in the riverine and rural areas of the state fully lit up and powered by solar power before the end of this year.
Noting that Government would be decommissioning over 800 generators in all the public schools by the time the project is finished, the Governor also informed that the state Water Corporation is also working to install pipelines for direct water supply to 600 schools in the state “as a first phase of ensuring that all our public schools get direct water supply”.
Fashola explained that his focus on electricity for the up-coming generation as the way forward was based on his believe that if their capacity is developed at this level, they would be able to improve the nation’s Power Sector adding that it is the lack of electricity that is keeping Nigeria in poverty.
He attributed the current inadequacy of power supply in the country to the inconsistency and insincerity of the present administration at the federal level adding that if those whose responsibility it is to provide electricity for Nigerians continue to lie about it, the only hope left is to focus on the upcoming generation through adequate education to generate electricity for this country.
He said as a result of inadequate power supply an individual in a two-bedroom flat in Lagos spends over N500,000 a year providing his own electricity, generating power from generators, diesel and petrol adding that if there is regular power supply, the cost of production would come down drastically leading to an increase in employment as a result of increase in the income of individuals and business organizations.
Expressing pride at the achievements of the annual Governor’s Education Award, Fashola said the project was an innovation to bring competition to the public schools performance evaluation as a way of improving the quality of learning outcomes and inspiring better results.
According to him, “We did not want to fall into any trap or any error of issuing grants and promoting complacency. We wanted competition because we know that if there is competition there will be improved productivity. So, every school gets its annual grant; but by this competition that has been induced by the Governor’s Award the successful schools now get an extra grant”.
He explained that government was also careful not to make the grants personal and to make whatever was the reward for success from the Governor’s grant to go to the school “in a way that it is the whole school that take collective ownership of the victory that they achieved” adding that the money that comes as a result of being a successful school in the Governor’s Award goes to the entire school.
Noting that there have been opportunities for individual recognitions, Fashola observed with joy that since the initiative started in 2010, no Education District has won it back to back, “which means that the improved performance has moved from Education District 5 who were the first winners in 2011, to Education District 2 who were the winners in 2012, to Education District 1 in 2013 to the successful Education District that will be announced today.
“In effect, improved performance has spread across our state evenly. The idea of this Award was meant to compliment the Eko Education initiative; because it did not come with the Eko Project. We had embraced the Eko Project and we decided if we were giving money to these schools under the Eko Project how do we measure. So we decided let us put a Governor’s Award in order to inspire them to use their money innovatively, committedly and passionately and create a competition”.
The Governor, who listed other education projects of the government to include Adopt-A-School, emphasized that the direct funding of schools by the state government itself has not abated adding that it has continued to increase year on year.
“What we wanted to ensure was that resources were increasingly put to our school”, the Governor said adding that although this year’s education budget represent about 16 percent of the total budget size for the state, investments domiciled in other sectors of the economy also benefit the education sector.
Other examples, according to him, include the School Health programme, School Milk Programme where children in schools are given milk in order to improve their brain cell development. “That is a budget domiciled in the Ministry of Health helping in the Ministry of Education. There is a School Eye-Screening Corridor where children are encouraged to use the eye corridor to test their eyes”, he said.
“There are schools that are flooding, there is waste management in the schools which are domiciled in the Ministry of Environment. All of that by the time you aggregate it, I venture to argue, that we would be well in excess of the threshold that is recognized for global standards. But what we cannot do is to put all of that money in one Ministry; the capacity to even utilize it is not there”, the Governor said.
On the successes that the Eko Project has brought to the State’s public school system, Governor Fashola said apart from the results which, according to him, have greatly improved from seven percent in 2007 to 41 percent in 2013, the project has helped the public schools to procure 839 projectors, 753 internet modems, 3,441 software and 656 generators.
The investment, he said, has also led to the provision of 525 libraries, 305,000 textbooks, 10,899 reference materials and facilitated the training of 16,832 teachers and 2,609 principals and vice-principals adding that the personal benefits of the project was equally enormous.
Such individual benefits, the Governor said, include the Power Kids Club which, according to him, “is the club that we set up in a school that wins the Governor’s Award to begin to expose these children very early in their life to electricity, conservation, preservation and how power works.
“We have recognized that some of these children by their sterling performance, by their hard work and some of their teachers, have been the team that has produced the results. So some of these schools where awards have been given now have special clubs like the Power Kids. They go on excursions to all our IPPs; they also go on annual overseas trips with some of their teachers. So those are some of the personal awards”, Fashola said.
Assuring that when the World Back Project under Eko winds down, the direct disbursement of annual cash grant to all the State’s public secondary schools and technical colleges will continue, Fashola said Government has set up an institutional framework to support cash disbursement to all the schools under the state’s budget.
The Governor, however, emphasized that the continuation of the programmes after he hands over next year would depend on the Government to be elected by the people adding, “I wish to emphasize categorically that this programmes are the initiatives of the Lagos State Government under the platform of the All Progressives Congress. Very soon, elections will be called and you will hear all sorts of promises and you will have to make a choice with your votes”.
“Make no mistake about it, the World Bank grant is a loan, it is not a dash. It is a loan to the state and the plan to pay it depends on your continuing to pay your tax. So let nobody come and sweet talk you that there will be no more tax in Lagos. If they do so there will be no services in Lagos”, he said.
He further warned, “The revenue from the Federal Government is dwindling every day. Oil pipeline is being broken and oil stolen. The only reason we are able to run the affairs in this state today is the taxes your parents and all of those who operate in this state pay. So be careful as they come to promise you all sorts of unrealizable commitments.
“I can promise you that an APC Government will continue these projects. I can make that promise to you. But it is for you to secure the continuity of this project by voting to elect an APC Government in the next elections not only for the Governor, because it is not only the Governor’s show, but for the legislators because they would be the ones passing the Eko Project”, the Governor said.
Earlier, in her presentation, Special Adviser to the Governor on Lagos Eko Project, Ms Ronke Azeez, said the project was being used as a springboard for the New Education Year adding that this year’s edition has been for reflection of the progress so far made in the sector.
According to her, “The Governor’s Education Award is to encourage and motivate public secondary schools through competitions to improve on performance adding that it has become a yard-stick for measuring performance in the six Education Districts of the State”.
Earlier in her welcome address, one of the students who anchored the programme, Miss Ronke Adedeji, thanked Governor Fashola for the tremendous achievements of his administration in the Education sector promising that the children would continue to sieze the opportunities provided by the administration to achieve the best in life for the benefit of the State.
Highlights of the programme included drama presentations by top Nollywood artistes and other top comedians including the popular SAKA and school pupils, among others.
Also present at the occasion were members of the State Executive Council including the Secretary to the State Government, Dr. (Mrs.) Oluranti Adebule; state Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Olayinka Oladunjoye; former Head of Service, Prince Adesegun Ogunlewe; traditional rulers including Oba of Ketu/Kosofe land, Oba Isiaka Balogun, elder statesmen and stakeholders in the education sector.