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*Nigeria: Governor Obi Splashes N6b On Handover of Schools To Churches
Awka, Anambra State capital, was agog yesterday when the governor of the state, Mr. Peter Obi, handed over a total of 1,040 primary schools back to their original owners, the churches, who were equally given N6B to maintain the schools. The N6B will however be distributed to the affected churches over the next 15 months based on the number of schools owned by each group.
Addressing a mammoth crowd of education stakeholders, elders of the state and the general public on the occasion which held at the Women’s Development Centre, Obi said the handover was necessitated by the level of moral decadence in society owing to what he described as the forceful takeover of mission schools by the government in 1970. ‘The collapse of education in Anambra State is directly connected with the takeover of schools owned by the missionaries, churches and voluntary organisations in 1970. That singular exercise signalled the disappearance of morality and the building of character from our school system. This can no longer be allowed,’ Obi stated.
He said that after consulting with stakeholders he had decided to return all primary and secondary schools taken from the missionaries back to them and expressed the hope that government’s gesture would be reciprocated by the churches so that the school system would be returned to its glorious days. The N6B will be shared among the Catholic, Anglican, and remaining government schools in four instalments. In the first instalment, the Catholic Church which owns a lion’s share of 453 schools will receive over N762M while its Anglican counterpart receives over N498M. The remaining public schools not taken from the churches will share over N489M out of a total of N1.75B.
The second and third instalments will gulp N1.25B each, while the fourth and last instalment will cost the government N1.75B. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: His Excellency Governor Peter Obi
According to the governor who assured them that the money was already available and in the bank, the money would be released to the churches after they must have submitted their work plans within 30 days. ‘Let us all resolve today to be positive change agents especially now that we have a government that is ready and willing to work with individuals that can complement the efforts of government for the good of society. What we have done today may not be popular but it is the right decision and we will continue to take the right decisions,’ Obi told the people of the state.
In his speech, the minister of state for education, Ezenwo Onyeso Wike, praised the action of Mr. Peter Obi, describing it as capable of turning around education in the state and bringing back lost moral values. He urged other states to emulate the Anambra State example. The secretary of Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Dr. Ahmed Modibo Mohammed, who said he was a product of mission schools, praised Obi’s action and assured him of UBEC’s continued support. Wike pointed out that states were free to use UBEC’s money any way they wanted and that the commission was bound to give support. ‘The handover of schools by the Anambra State government is a step in the right direction and one that will boost education in the state,’ Wike said. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: L-R Barr. Ezenwo Nyesom Wike, the Hon. Minister of Education; Most Rev. Dr. Christian Efobi, Archbishop of the Niger Province of the Anglican Communion; Gov. Peter Obi; Most Rev. Dr. Valerian Okeke, Metropolitan Archbishop of Onitsha Catholic Province; and the National Chairman of APGA at the return of 1040 schools to the missionaries by the Governemnt of Anambra State. -
Responding on behalf of Catholic bishops, the arch bishop of Onitsha metropolitan province, Valerian Okeke, in an emotion laden voice, assured Obi that his action of handing back schools to their owners was one of the most popular decisions ever taken in the state. In his words, he told the governor, ‘you have written your name in gold and you have wiped the tears of our people. You have rectified the anomalies of the civil war and rectified the fault of past leaders. With this action the church has forgiven them for forcefully taking our schools,’ Bishop Okeke said. In his speech on behalf of the Anglican bishops, the arch bishop of the Niger province and bishop of Aguata diocese, Most Reverend Christian Efobi, said, Governor Obi’s action showed that when the righteous mounted the throne the people rejoiced and he pledged that they would continually pray for him.
The national chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) Victor Umeh, also hailed the handover of the schools to their previous owners and thanked the state legislature for supporting it. He noted that it had been possible because APGA was the dominant party in the house, thus giving the executive arm the needed cooperation. Meanwhile the Anambra State government has set up a committee to look into the disputed schools whose handover has been delayed. The committee will be chaired by a retired chief judge of the state, Godwin Ononiba.
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