Lagos State is determined to take a pre-eminent position in the running of the new Nigeria that the All Progressives Congress (APC) would usher next month, as the state would be the template for the resuscitation of the nation’s education sector.
The Vice President-elect, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, disclosed this on Wednesday, 8th April, 2015 at a consultative meeting with teachers in Lagos State on the plans of the Buhari/ Osinbajo administration.
Professor Osinbajo who spoke at the BlueRoof Hall, LTV premises, Agidingbi venue of the meeting which had in attendance the state Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola, SAN and all key stakeholders in the education sector urged everyone to be well prepared for state’s vital role and fresh opportunities.
Osinbajo added that the opportunity to be at the centre is very important especially for education because education and healthcare are two important areas for the incoming Buhari administration.
“And if you look at all that we have been saying in our manifesto, one thing that is very clear is that we are going to spend a lot of time and resources on education especially public education. This is only one of the many consultations that we intend to have”, he said.
Continuing, Osinbajo noted that the State stand in good stead to get things done now. “Fortunately for us, I am from here because it also means that there would be direct access, myself, the commissioner for education, the state government will have direct access, it would be much easier for us to do a lot of the things we intend to do”.
He informed that there are also plans for the introduction of free education for science and technology, engineering and mathematics and free education for teachers especially at the tertiary level, adding that for teachers who want to go to university there would be free education,
Professor Osinbajo identified continuous teacher education as one of the basic problems bedeviling the educational sector, adding that in the coming dispensation, the people are going to get a lot continuous training for teachers and teachers training in particular.
According to him, many people have talked about welfare of teachers which is very important and that the welfare of teachers is always tied to funding just as it is for the welfare of other workers.
He explained that one of the other crucial projects which the incoming administration at the federal level intends to embark upon is housing, adding that he expects the State to be able to work with the Federal Government on the issue of housing for teachers.
“We have to ensure that our housing policy takes care of critical sectors of the economy and teachers would be one of the critical sectors of the economy for housing”, he added.
He said going forward, many of the programmes that have been proposed by the APC Federal Government like the free meal for primary school pupils is one that would involve the states and the Federal Government sitting down to discuss the logistics of its funding and implementation.
“Lagos State is one of the places with the largest primary school concentration, we have to work out and design all of this. Every one of the programmes we are talking about now, everybody will be watching how it is going to work.
“If it works in Lagos, it would work everywhere and I am sure that we are all prepared for what we are going to see come May 29. I will continue to engage the stakeholders very frequently because as I said to people, they are going to get a lot about this in the coming months and year”, he added.
Professor Osinbajo stated that he would not just be holding meetings with the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) but with other stakeholders adding that there is a need for Lagos to present a very clear plan and pathway so that she is better prepared than everybody else in order to be able to benefit maximally for what will happen in the next few years.
He reiterated that four years is not enough time and that there is a need for the state to be well organized, well prepared to take advantage of it, stressing that he knows that Lagos State is going to remain APC as it does not make sense to go in any other direction.
Osinbajo had earlier thanked the Governor for the opportunity given to him to address the gathering saying it underscores the importance which the incoming administration places on education.
“One of the issues we have is that we now have the centre; we are in control of the Federal Government. It is a very crucial moment in the history of our state because this state has always provided leadership and direction and has always provided the leadership in education, healthcare and in the administration of justice. We have always provided leadership but we have also always suffered because we have always been in the opposition.
“Everything we have done has been at great cost. We have gone to court several times fighting for the rights of our state and each time we have had to go there, we knew we could have settled it if we were at the centre”, he explained.
The Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola, SAN in his remarks, said his journey in the saddle of leadership in Lagos is coming to an end, but that he appreciates the efforts of the teachers more than they do, because education is not a short distance race.
He said it is only those who have the grace of long life that can possibly see the end result, reiterating that from the baseline of less than 10 percent record performance in public examination, the State has recorded a steady growth to close to 50 percent at the last examination.
He added that it is laughable when a candidate of an opposition candidate promises of his intention to record higher pass level immediately he gets into office because what it simply means is that he does not understand what it takes to get to where the state is now.
He stressed that when the State conceived the EKO Project, it was roundly criticized by some uninformed critics who said the State was borrowing too much to provide self independence and autonomy for school administration to bring about better performance.
He said the same critics are now complaining that education is being underfunded by the present administration in the state, maintaining that his administration also gave a commitment that it would not retrench any worker and it has maintained that promise.
He added that Lagos has always been the place where the thinking capacity for the country resides, saying when the appointment of Tutors -General was introduced, it was derided by many states, but that today, several states have embraced the idea.
Governor Fashola said 24 years ago, the federal capital was moved out of Lagos and that 16 out of those years have been managed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which has witnessed a large scale denial of Lagos of all her rights as a former federal capital.
He stated that it is the same PDP that has been responsible for terrorizing the residents of Lagos with state powers that is now jostling to rule Lagos State, stressing that the people of Lagos must show with their votes that the Saturday polls is about self interest and not ethnicity that is being played up by the PDP.
He urged those who voted for the APC not to regard all those who voted against the party at the last elections as their enemies but should see them as people they can convince on the need to vote for the APC.
The Chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, Mr Adesegun Raheem who also addressed the gathering, said the teachers in Lagos are indeed very happy that they voted for General Buhari and that their votes counted.
He also expressed the appreciation of the teachers to the State Government for paying the balance of their allowance, stating that the teachers would always remain supportive of the State Government.
The Chairman urged the Vice President-elect to ensure that all the intervention funds that are available to the educational sector such as the Educational Trust Fund are made available to the educational sector in Lagos.
The state Commissioner for Education, Mrs Olayinka Oladunjoye earlier in her welcome address had commended the present administration for its several welfare programmes for teachers.
She also commended the Vice President-elect for finding time to meet the teachers in the state, saying interesting times await stakeholders in the educational sector from May 29.
The event which graced by a large crowd of teachers also attracted key stakeholders in the educational sector including the Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board, Mrs Gbolahan Daodu; the Special Adviser on EKO Project, Ms Ronke Azeez; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Mrs Molara Erogbogbo; Tutors General and Permanent Secretaries from the Education Districts and other notables.