Gov’ship Race: ADC Campaign Reacts as Kogi Govt Declares Free Education, Offers to Offset WAEC Fees in Public Schools

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The campaign team of the governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) for the November 11 election in Kogi State, Hon Leke Abejide, has mocked the All Progressives Congress (APC) led government of Alhaji Yahaya Bello.

Bello’s government recently declared free education for primary and secondary schools pupils in the state. This includes offsetting WAEC fees for SSS3 students starting next academic session.

The Abejide team described the move as “mere political palliative” and “an afterthought”, coming in the eighth year of Bello’s ruinous administration which has inflicted untold pain and hardship on the people of the state.

The ADC reminded Bello that both as a private citizen and public officer in the last five years, its governorship candidate, Abejide has dutifully sustained the payment of WAEC fees of all SSS3 students, both public and private colleges in parts of the state.

Abejide also intends to extend the conscientious goodwill beyond Yagba federal constituency and Okunland to the 21 local government areas of the state, beginning from October 2023.

The ADC maintained that Abejide was not a candidate for any office but a public-spirited patriot when he flagged off the scheme in his immediate federal constituency in 2018.

Kogi State Commissioner For Education, Science, and Technology, Mr Wemi Jones at a public function on Thursday in Lokoja, Kogi State capital, had hinted that, as part of the “Education Intervention Programme of Kogi State 2023”, the state government has declared free education at public primary and secondary schools in the state beginning from the next academic session which commences this month of September.

According to the education commissioner, the free education policy of the state government encompasses the payment of examination fees for pupils sitting for their First School Leaving Certificate Examination, (FSLCE); the Junior West African Examination Council, (JWAEC) test and the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination, (SSSCE).

According to the commissioner, the goodwill of the Bello administration will also offset the bills of the National Examination Commission, (NECO) test and the cost of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, (JAMB) examinations.

He said the state government under the leadership of Governor Yahaya Bello has since its assumption of office made education top priority. According to him 30 percent of the state’s annual budgetary allocation goes to the sector.

He added that the plan to pay the examination fee for all public school students starting next session is part of efforts to sustain education as the top priority among the eight thematic areas of the present administration.

In his reaction, spokesman of the ADC-Abejide Campaign Organisation, Comrade Shola Adebola, noted that Abejide’s headlong participation in the November gubernatorial poll has unsettled the APC.

He described as “impulsive and patronizing the APC’s sudden awakening from years of deep slumber, inertia and underwhelming performance to attempt to insult the people of Kogi State with a last-minute Greek gift.”

According to Adebola: “If they get round to fulfilling their impromptu pledge, it will be to the credit of Hon Leke Abejide who pioneered this years ago in the first place. He it is who has thrown Yahaya Bello and his team on high jump.”

Speaking further, Adebola said the APC structure in Kogi State must bury it’s head in shame if it had to be knee-jerked by a private individual who has demonstrated capacity, truthfulness and commitment to reach out to students across the whole state.

“The fundamental theorem is that whatever Bello’s government is doing as palliatives in any sector is a valedictory largesse to the people for enduring eight years of untold humiliation and dehumanisation under Bello’s watch,”

Adebola said: “Under Bello, Directors on GL 17 were being paid as little as N20,000 per month as take-home pay. They were expected to pay their rents, feed their families, maintain their vehicles, pay school fees for their wards. All of a sudden, they are being ambushed in a most patronising manner by the Bello government.

“Yahaya Bello is not on the ballot and as such whatever the government is doing now is reclaiming the lost responsibilities or opportunities and performance of obligation. It has nothing to do with the candidature of APC who has been an architect of the inability of Bello’s government to perform as state auditor general for local governments.”

The statement added that “A carnivorous animal (lion) eating meat, cannot turn to herbivorous (cow) eating grasses, overnight. The fundamental principle is giving to Ceaser what belongs to Ceaser. No government paid for my WAEC or JAMB because my father was adequately paid to perform his parental rights. You cannot leave leprosy and proffer medication for eczema, which is not the laboratory diagnosis and believe the ailments would go. A program that was not factored into the Budget from January 30th but now dished out as political palliative is an afterthought of political abracadabra. This cannot survive the test of time.

“To set the record straight, in 2018, Abejide in his private capacity offered to foot the SSSCE bills of all the students in all government-owned secondary schools in the Yagba catchment. It was an unheralded precedent. Kogi State Government, at the time, never conceived of, nor implemented any such human resource development schemes.

“By this singular stroke, Abejide won over not just the admiration of the benefitting youngsters, but he equally touched the hearts of their parents who have been saved the shame of obvious incapacity to see their children and wards through a most critical phase of their academic development.

“In five years, this feat has been sustained covering both public and private colleges. It was extended to Kabba-Bunu-Ijumu federal constituency in the last academic session with a view to extending the gesture to cover the entire state in October 2023”.

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