AKS House of Assembly Should Demand For Better Funding For Education In The State
People don’t expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a slight change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. They know we can do better -Barrack Obama
The Deputy Speaker of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly recently obtained her LLB from National Open University of Nigeria. Her passion for education adorned around her rubicund tincture excellently impress depth and sublimity.
This is pleasant to me and many others who appreciate the place of learning, profundity and imagination in leadership. I raise a toss to her scholarly attainment and esteem it as a worthy example to our youths- majority who feel that if they were to have money, they will eagerly drop out of school.
She demonstrates Love for learning and value for education – a vital variable of our societal dynamics that is currently sloping to extinction.
When politicians bag degrees while in office, such achievements is always met with scurrilous blustering coming from those who feel they(politicians) bought the certificate with money and influence.
I can say with unflecked confidence that there is no argument regarding the integrity of standard in NOUN. That is it for that sentiment. I say congratulations again to her.
Moving on, In 1951, the Macpherson constitution was birth. It provided for democratic election to the regional House of Assembly.
This development was very important because it made provision for the legislature of each region to take care of certain subjects of which education was among. To put simply, responsibility for education devolved to the government of each region.
Chief Obafemi Owolowo took advantage of this and engaged the legislature to support overwhelming budget and expenditure on education.
In one of his address , he stressed that
as far as possible, expenditure on services which tend to the welfare and health and education of the people should be increased at the expense of any other expenditure
In this connection, he called for a free , universal and compulsory education otherwise known as Universal Primary Education (UPE).
Chief Obafemi in his good conscience didn’t allow this program to fall into the commonplace of political joke.
He made conscious efforts to take care of lapses, makeshifts and irregularities such project(of FREE education) can bring.
Massive teachers training program and expansion of teacher’s training facility was carried out to forestall a possible lowering of standards. In fact, some of the teachers were even trained in the United state
A snapshot of a peculiar voyage like this is very instructive and will enable us make sound judgement as we are about to summon our own case into perspective.
Lest I forget, It need be mentioned that despite Owolowo’s achievement in providing free and quality education to his people, he was still able to build physical infrastructures.
He brought the first television station to Africa — the Western Nigeria Television. He also built one of the first stadiums — Liberty Stadium, Cocoa House — one of the tallest buildings on the African continent amongst other groundbreaking deeds.
As we delve deeper in our reflection , I would love to emphasize yet again that Owolowo’s preference for Education in his Budget didn’t stop him from paying due attention to other important section of his social contract with the people.
This mean that our present Government can pay maximum attention to education and still record success in other sector of our development.
Unfortunately, the state of education in Akwa Ibom is mournful. There is dilapidated infrastructure, demotivated teachers( who just recently suspended a strike action) and substandard quality of learning.
Whereas, there are many stakeholders to share in the blame, I shall name the legislature to be deserving of the chief blame.
In 2020 the Governor of the State, His Excellency Deacon Udom Emmanuel presented a budget to the State House of Assembly proposing N4.98 Billion as a capital budget for the education sector.
A budget that represents only 0.83 per cent of the total budget. Such obvious depressing proposal didn’t elicit any strong argument and debate in the floor of the house.
But in the same year 2020, Legislators in California were engaging in legislative fight to save its public education system from budget cutbacks.
At a hearing of the House Education and Labor Committee, Rep. Bobby Scott, D-VA, the committee chairperson, said that it was essential that Congress approves additional funding, beyond the $13 billion in K-12 education funding. He is quoted to have said “The lessons from our past makes clear the school districts urgently need more relief”. This is an instance of how the legislature responded to the social need of the people.
How about the Akwa Ibom State Legislature, what is their effort in ensuring the promotion of education in the state?
Most if not all members of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly are beneficiaries of quality education and have made personal contributions to the education of few young people who have access to them- which shows they appreciate the value of education . It is therefore unexpected of them to fold their hands while our education sector is defunded and bedraggled in near death.
A recent publication in guardian Newspaper reports that States in Nigeria including Akwa Ibom State have failed in making the most of the universal basic education commission.
The report reads,
It is distressing to note that the commission [UBEC] currently has 51 billion un-utilized fund in the kitty because the 36 states would not pay a counterpart fund to access the Lump sum. The socio-economic rights and accountability projecr(SERAP) that uncovered the idled fund has threatened to sue the 36 states governors over reckless discrimination against children.(Guardian Newspaper, Wednesday, 16th March, 2021)
While this criminal injustice against the poor mass persist, the state continues to invest in infrastructure and other project that shouldn’t take precedence over the education sector. While the education sector is suffered to languish in obscurity, irrelevant projects like the construction of Akwa Ibom International worship center are being prioritized for the usual political fustian chest beat.
At the end, our Politicians and bureaucrats will have their children in highly expensive private schools in Nigeria and outside the country while the children of the poor must suffer deprivation.
In all these, it is difficult to embrace the fact that the legislature are the main custodian of the incline rope that is constantly sloping our ideals for education to extinction, because – They are always ready to approve this unjust budget presented every year by the State Governor.
I wonder again if there is any better way to describe this abnegation than to call it a criminal injustice.
According to the theory of relative deprivation, this social exclusion and marginalization against the poor will inexorably lead to the flourish of crime in our State. And little wonder why Chief Obafemi Owolowo warned that “The children of the poor you failed to train will never let your children have peace”.
I specifically referenced the Deputy Speaker RT. Hon. Felicia Bassey in my liberal contemplation because she has shown interest in the welfare of the girl child in so many occasions.
There is rampant abuse of the girl child in the street of Akwa Ibom everyday. This unfortunate situation enjoy derivation from the poor state of Education that we currently experience.
On a certain research published by United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) website, over 10.5 million children are out of school in Nigeria. The same report also highlight that 47.7 percent are girls from age 5-14 years who have never set foots in school but rather engage in hawking.
So one can say that lack of investment in education by our state (who currently is in the chart ) increase the vulnerability of the girl child – they are opened to physical , sexual, psychological, verbal, emotional and mental abuse.
Since the Deputy Speaker in her programs and ideals have proven to be interested in the development and protection of every girl child in Akwa Ibom, she should strongly demand for the Governor to fund Education in the State. Likewise, other members of the legislature.
Estimates in the appropriation bill should be critically analysed and resources distributed in such a way those items in need are put in priority. That is the function of the legislature as clearly stated in the proceedings of the AKHA . Education as a very important sector should be prioritized. These is what Akwa Ibom State Legislature led by the current Speaker, RT. Hon Aniekan Bassey should do to put us on track.
David Bassey Antia