DELTA 2019 BUDGET: NANS Rattles Governor Over Poor Budgetary Allocation To Education

By Kenneth Orusi, The Nigerian Voice, Asaba

Barely nine days after the Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, presented a total of N367, 095,083,451 to the State House of Assembly as budget for the 2019 fiscal year with the education sector receiving the sum of N26.8 billion which represent a meager 8 per cent minimum allocated to the education sector as against the 15 per cent and 26 per cent recommended for by the National Economic Council (NEC) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) Delta State, has rejected the provision allocated to education in the state.

In a letter conveying their disapproval, dated 25th October 2019, signed by the Chairman NANS /JCC Delta State Axis, Dio Oghale Emeka Rex, lamented that “Nigeria has the highest number of out of school children in the world with about 13 million children being out of schools. Poverty has been identified as the major reason for this outrageous figure. The government is expected to be seen taking deliberate steps to improve on education”.

Comrade Dio Oghale Emeka Rex, who led a team of Student leaders on a courtesy visit to the leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Delta State Council, said “Your Excellency Sir, it is therefore very disheartening to realize that only 8% percent of the 2019 budget was allocated to education as against the 26% percent minimum allocation for education recommended by UNESCO.

“The leadership of Nigerian Students in Delta State therefore reject in totality, such meager allocation for education. It is not acceptable to us and we shall resist it by all means possible.

The letter to Okowa, which copied the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Festus Ovie Agas, the Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Chiedu Ebie, Commissioner for Higher Education, Engr Jude Sinebe, SA to Governor on Students Affairs, PA to Governor on Students Affairs, Commissioner of Police, Muhammad Mustafa, Delta State Command, Director, Department of State Service, Delta State Service Command, NUJ, Delta State Council read in part: “We therefore demand an upward review of the budget allocated to education in the 2019 budget by your Excellency.

“We also demand that your Excellency declares a State of Emergency on Education and Adopt free education policy in public basic and secondary schools in Delta State”.

The budget also fall short of the recommendation by the Nigeria National Economic Council (NEC), chaired by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, which met recently that a state of emergency should be declared on the education sector and that not lower than 15 per cent minimum allocation should be provided for in the budget by all states to revamp the sector.

At press time, text message sent to the state Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Chiedu Ebie, was not replied.

But contacted to respond to the protest letter of NANS, the state Commissioner for Information, Patrick Ukah, said until the budget is out of the House of Assembly, It’s wrong to make comments on it, “you know you don’t make comments on something that is before the State House of Assembly. You know it is like something that is before the court. We cannot say anything until the budget has been passed. So, I am not competent to say anything”, he said.