As the strike action embarked upon by the Academic staff union of universities (ASUU) persists, the Association of Ebonyi Indigenes Socio-cultural in Diaspora (AEISCID) has faulted Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi state stance that higher education is not for everybody.
of killing education at all levels in the state, even as the group condemned a statement credited to the governor that “higher education is not for everybody.”
The group led by Ambassador Paschal Oluchukwu in a statement remarked that Umahi’s position smacks of the fact that he is not bothered by the plight of university students affected by the ASUU strike.
The group contended that Umahi’s position did not come to them as a surprise going by the reverses in the educational sector in Ebonyi state in recent years.
This, the group maintained was in sharp contrast with the situation in Ebonyi under the first civilian Governor, Dr Sam Egwu who deliberately offered free and compulsory education for all Ebonyians at least up to the Secondary level with the government registering at least NECO for finalist students.
The group noted: “It’s justiciable to bring to the fore how the man who is advocating for at least Basic and Secondary education for citizens indeed killed education at those two levels before eventually burying the two State-owned tertiary institutions- Ebonyi State University and the Ebonyi State College of Education, Ikwo.
“All his actions that has left the education sector in its dimwit shadows were inspired by greed and nothing but overwhelming insatiable lust for money in institutions that his predecessors had carefully and deliberately invested in, knowing that Ebonyi remains categorized as an Educationally Less Developed State.
“We are aware that Umahi had inherited an Ebonyi that had a near excellent performance in academic examinations such as WAEC, NECO and other competitive academic contests like Debates. The State’s Debating Championship team led by Professor Okpata made Nigeria proud even at the continental level.”
“Majority of today’s PhD holders and Professors particularly in the State-owned University were products of Egwu’s HIPACT programme- a carefully planned foreign Scholarship programme designed by the education-loving administration of Dr Egwu.
“This was further consolidated by his successor, Chief Martin Elechi who felt the need to sustain the education legacies. His government brought Ebonyi to the limelight with proper remunerations for teachers and attracted funds and investments in UBEB from the Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC.
“This was, in addition, to fully supporting and funding the State’s Literary and Debating Society, the State’s Scholarship Board and prompt payment of bursaries to students including sponsoring and supporting Law students to Law Schools.
“AEISCID is still abreast that it was so seamless that even a Local Government Chairman or a Development Centre Coordinator could pay tuition fees and procure laptops cum other supports for law students going to the Law School. The teachers, particularly at the Primary School level were properly remunerated even through the 74 Development Centre Coordinators in the State.
“In WAEC performance under Elechi, Ebonyi came only second after States like Anambra in the entire South East region and maintained top in some academic competitions like Debate.
“Upon ascending to the number one seat of power, however, Umahi immediately turned the table. The State government first accessed and allegedly misappropriated billions of naira paid into UBEB by UBEC just before Elechi’s exit from power in 2015.
“Since then, Umahi has plunged the education sector in Ebonyi into a deeper mess. It is so bad that in his over 7 years reign, it has never been reported that he made a brief stopover in any of the public education facilities- be there Primary, Secondary or Tertiary institutions in the State.
“The only time he visits EBSU is to harass the managers (who himself appointed) to up their revenue games. He even taxes the institution after reducing its subventions by over 50%. He only laments that the place can only be run as a business and that he’s not making enough profits from the School because the management is not good businessmen and women.”
While describing tuition fees in Ebonyi as “criminally outrageous”, the statement said: that Ebonyi public Secondary Schools are now very unaffordable and that it costs over N15,000 to obtain a common Junior Secondary School Certificate. Parents pay through their noses to see their children and wards through the Senior Secondary classes up to SS3 when they are eventually forced to break banks in order to register their children and wards for WAEC and NECO.
“It’s verifiable that some, if not most of Ebonyi public schools have only two or three teachers teaching different subjects from Junior to Senior Secondary level. This is simply because no recruitment of teachers have been carried out in the last over 7 years when Umahi took over power.
“The resultant effect is that Ebonyi now arguably ranks the least in entire Southern Nigeria in terms of WAEC performance as indicated in the recent result released by the body wherein many Ebonyi School’s results were withheld over allegations of malpractice and inability to pay outstanding fees and levies to WAEC.
“Parents and guardians in Ebonyi have been groaning with their affected children and wards over this ugly development but the Umahi government has maintained deafening silence on the WAEC performance – preferring to focus on building more flyovers than investing in education in a State as Educationally-backward as Ebonyi.
“The teachers still teaching in Ebonyi Schools are left without any remuneration by the Umahi government who feel they, including ASUU doesn’t deserve to be paid while agitating for better conditions of service. Most of them have found other more desperate means of surviving the Umahi-haram on education while those who can’t cope have since joined their ancestors. There’s no payment of leave and promotion allowances for staff at all levels of education in Ebonyi State in the past over 7 years of Umahi and he is not bothered one bit.
“The tuition fees are so criminally outrageous that the average, not even the rich Ebonyi household can afford to send their children and wards to the over-rated institution. It ranges from N300 to N500 million naira per session and only rich non-indigenes could barely afford it in this time of Nigeria’s economic woes.”