Executive Chairman of Kogi State Science, Technical Education and Teaching Service Commission (STETSCOM), Mrs. Cecilia E. Cook has denied that the Commission had stopped the payment of WAEC fees by private individuals wanting to assist secondary school students in the state.
In a statement issued in Lokoja on Wednesday, Cook described the allegations from the campaign organization of Barr. Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan as “desperation taken too far”.
She explained that the memo issued by her office to Zonal Directors and Principals of Public and Grant Aided Schools is for them to obtain clearance from the Commission for any internal or external programme.
She expressed surprised that her memo was twisted by politicians for self serving purposes.
“Our attention has been drawn to reports making the round in a section of the Media that Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello allegedly stopped the payment of N5million WAEC and NECO Grant by one Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan for Students in Kogi Central Senatorial District.
“We wouldn’t have condescended so low to reply her cooked lies, but for the interest of innocent Nigerians, particularly, residents of Kogi State and the Central Senatorial District, we will like to set the record straight.
“Kogi state Government through my office has never stopped anyone from paying WAEC and NECO fees including JAMB.
“Recall that the member representing Yagba Federal Constituency, Hon. Leke Abejide had for years been paying hundreds millions of Naira for WAEC and NECO fees for Secondary schools in his Federal Constituency of which he recently extended the gesture to Kabba/Bunu Ijumu Federal Constituency.
“He was not stopped because the present administration believes that carrying the responsibility of the education sector will be too much on government, hence several calls for individuals to assist where necessary and the introduction of the School Adoption and Mentorship Programme.
“Apart from Hon. Abejide, some well to do persons in the State including the Auditor General for Local Government, Alh. Usman Ododo and Political Office holders as well as Alumni Associations of Secondary Schools have been offsetting WAEC and NECO fees for many students and Government has not stopped anyone from doing so.
“Alh. Ododo particularly donated 11,000 Chemistry and Physics Textbooks worth millions of Naira to all Secondary Schools in the State.
“It is important to state that offsetting these fees is a good way of reducing the effect of the nation’s economy on our people as the State Government is appreciative of this effort.
“Infact, funding of education world over is a collective responsibility and it comes in diffrent ways,” she said.
The STETSCOM Chairman insisted that the claim by Natasha is “a calculated attempt to score cheap political popularity at the expense of the future of our students. This no doubt is desperation taken too far.”
“This is because, we observe with dissatisfaction that some schools even travel outside the state without permission hence, putting the state under serious embarrassment when any unfortunate thing happens.
“For any right thinking Nigerian, in view of the security challenges, travelling without permission with people’s children without permission from the Commission that regulates activities of Secondary School education is no appropriate.
“In fact, in the Civil Service Rule, Staff who intend to travel outside the State no matter the importance attached to the trip are expected to take permission.
“This intent of the Commission was taken in the best interest of the Staff in case of kidnapping or accident which nobody prays for.
“We are amazed that Natasha could twist this memo to get political popularity. This is unfortunate and misleading for a personality that is seeking public office,” she added.
She urged media to verify facts before going to press to avoid dissemination of fake news.