Oyo State Governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde, said on Thursday that his administration was ready to collaborate with the British government to enhance training and retraining of teachers in the state.
The Governor, who was speaking while hosting a team of British High Commission officials led the Deputy High Commissioner, Mrs. Harriet Thompson, said that the state was determined to improve the standard of education.
According to a statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, Governor Makinde also stated that his administration was ready to collaborate with international organisations to enhance positive growth in the four cardinal programmes of the administration.
He noted that the Oyo State government was ready to leverage on the age-long relationship between Nigeria and the United Kingdom, saying that one of the areas he felt the British government could assist Oyo State was in the area of training for teachers.
The Governor said: "Nigeria was a British subject and we belong to the Commonwealth. So, there is a long history to this relationship between Nigeria and the United Kingdom. Also, we run a federation, which is what we have been harping on.
"Oyo State, as a federating unit within Nigeria, can actually do few things by itself within the ambit of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
"As a government, we have focused on four major areas. One is education because we believe that if we have to take our people out of poverty into prosperity, education is key.
“I am an example because I came from a very humble background. I was given free education in this state. Eventually, I went to the University of Lagos, did my National Service with Shell, worked a little bit there and became a subject-matter expert on field and gas metering.
“I did some training at the Auto Control Centre in Kent on measurement quality and I can stand with anybody from any part of the world to talk about measurement. Meanwhile, this is somebody from a small corner in Oyo State. What brought us to that table is just education.
"So, we believe that if we get it right with education, a lot of our people will willingly take themselves out of poverty by being creative and useful to the state, country and even the world at large.
"One of the areas I really feel you can assist us is in the area of training. I promised the state that we will focus on training of our teachers so that they can, in turn, take quality into our class routes.
"So, it is an area which want to explore further to see how we can collaborate and get assistance here from yourselves.”
The Governor explained that the other areas of his administration’s focus included health, agriculture and security.
He said: “We have had interaction, in my private capacity, with the British companies and we know the capacity that is available in there. So, we will like to expand. We want to really interact, get our people to come together. Oyo State is huge in terms of landmass and it is quite close to the country, Belgium. In terms of vegetation, we have the most arable farm in this corner of the country.
So, we are open to any British entity that is willing to do business with us.”
Earlier, the Deputy High Commissioner of the British High Commission in Lagos, Thomson said that the United Kingdom was open to ensuring that the partnership and cooperation with Oyo State and other states in the South-West become more valuable going forward.
She said: "Your Excellency, thank you so much for receiving us this afternoon. As you know, this is our first meeting and we must congratulate you on election as governor of Oyo State. Congratulations. As you will be aware, the relationship between Nigeria and United Kingdom has a long history. It is very broad as well as being very deep.
“We are here in the South-West of this country in the last couple of days to understand more about how we can make that partnership useful and relevant as we are going forward rather than just looking backwards.
“We want to ensure that the partnership is valuable to you and to the people of Oyo State in the future as well. Some of the areas we are looking at include a partnership for education and formal learning represented by our colleague here, who has been working with the Oyo State government as well as with others in the region to learn from each other in terms of improving the governance in Oyo State and other states in the South-West.
“I am also very pleased to note that we have recently signed an agreement with a British company, LEDCo Energy Company, to provide street-lighting solutions right here in the state and that is another example of how we can bring real value to the relationship and partnership.
"We are delighted to be here early in your term to understand your priorities and the objectives of your government for the people of Oyo State to understand the areas of opportunities where we can strengthen that partnership and cooperation.”
Some of the government functionaries that attended the event included the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Chief Bisi Ilaka; the Secretary to the State Governor, Mrs Olubamiwo Adeosun and the Head of Service, Mrs Amidat Agboola, among other