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ARG Decries Government’s Neglect Of Public Education

By TheNigerianVoice-TNV
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We of Afenifere Renewal Group(ARG) note that, even though Education sector got the highest percentage budgetary allocation in 2013 Appropriation Act, we are yet to see this allocation translate into tangible results in our federal tertiary institutions. Rather, the strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities has entered the second month, with no end in sight.

The sector got N367.375bn for recurrent expenditure, N60.207bn for capital expenditure. This translates to a total of N427.582bn representing7.9% of total budget. In 2012, the sector got a total of N397.378bn representing 8.5% of total budget.

Despite these high allocations, the sector has seen no improvement, an evidence of government's insensitivity to the plight of the people and its ineptitude in managing the nation's resources for the greater good.

We are also witnessing misplaced priority in this sector. Between 2010 and now, FG has spent about N32.8bn on printing primary school textbooks and procuring library resources, a project that has borne no commensurate impact, according to an investigative article titled “Many Problems of Fed Govt's Textbook Project,” published in The Nation recently.

Tertiary education is federal government's only responsibility as secondary and primary are direct responsibilities of states and local governments respectively. Yet, FG has found it difficult to pay the salaries of lecturers, the core factor of tertiary education. Such is the level of neglect of public education that private institutions are cashing in on government's ineptitude, which also manifested recently when FG praised itself for improved performances in WASSCE – an accolade that rightly belongs to governors.

An agreement was made in 2009 between the FG and ASUU and the simple task of implementing that agreement is now so difficult. How can we make progressive development as a nation if each administration keeps bringing new policies at the expiration of one?

Part of that agreement provides for progressive increase of annual budgetary allocation to education up to 26 per cent between 2009 and 2020. To annually increase budgetary allocation to education is difficult for a government that has been faithful in implementing the Multi Year Tariff Order, which stipulated that electricity tariff should be increased annually as from 2012 till 2016. It makes no sense that government is increasing electricity tariff and fuel prices and collecting taxes from citizens, whose children it cannot properly educate.

We want to point out that federal government has never taken any conscious step to drive growth in our tertiary education system and the little improvement since 1999 is attributable to forced action from strikes. Is strike the only way to get government's attention?

Afenifere RenewalGroup(ARG)urges the National Assembly to activate its oversight functions and unravel the reason for discrepancy between budgetary allocation and policy implementation in this sector, instead of begging ASUU to call off the strike. Such people-oriented action will not only restore lost trust in public education but also portray NASS as an institution that wants to protect and guarantee a bright future of our youths.

We also urge the FG to overhaul its educational policies and all due priority and effectiveness guide its decisions, which up till now has left millions of Nigerian youths with bleak future and rendered them willing accessories of crime and social vices.

Kunle Famoriyo
Media/Publicity Secretary(ARG)
08161111020, 08021185077, 08074508181
19th August 2013

Segun Balogun
Programme Officer
Afenifere Renewal Group
23, Fola Jinadu Crescent,
Gbagada, Lagos.