Education is widely acknowledged as a vital instrument of change national development and a catalyst for economic development and it also believe that it is only when people are equipped with skills, abilities and competencies that they could catalyze development in all its ramification.
This might not be unconnected to the fact why nations around the world are investing seriously in education to enhance their political consciousness, socio-economic engineering and national integration.
But developing countries like Nigeria according to a university don with Niger Delta University, Dr. Idumange Agreen is not investing up to 13 percent of its budget into education hence the challenges and problems facing the country.
The university don who spoke in Port Harcourt recently at an occasion organised by Empowerment support Initiative (ESI) to mark the 2009 International Literacy day said for education to take its pride in driving the country’s economy, the government must invest in education.
Agreen at the event noted that the crusade against illiteracy in Nigeria has gone a long way as he pointed out that the New National Policy on Education (2004) has made provision for adult literacy and non-formal education .
He disclosed that the introduction of Universal Primary Education scheme in 1976 was another attempt to bringing mass literacy to the country but he however regretted that the projects failed due to mismanagement and poor implementation which was occasioned by shortage of funds.
Research also revealed that 776 million adult lack minimum literacy skills, a good proportion of the figure are women while 75 million children are out of school but precisely 11 million Nigerians are out of school.
Some of them are street vendors, beggars, scavengers, car washers and pure water sellers in an unhealthy environment.
Investigations also revealed that such exposure (child labour) affects the acquisition of basic education as it affects the ability of children to attend school and tap the benefit of schooling but rather such children usually end up becoming armed robbers and criminals in the society thereby constituting problems for the government.
According to Agreen, “ working children hardly have time, money and energy to attend school, in Nigeria over eight million children combine schooling and work; this category of children work to pay their fees and often skip classes because of the demands of their drudgery”.
He added, “Children participation as manifested in school enrolment has declined from 86.2 percent in 1993 to 70.3% in 2000 and drop out rate is estimated at 15%.Statistics show that only 64 % of students make it to basic 5 while 43.5% continue to basic 9 while children from rural areas and urban poor live without quality education hence they continue to wallow in the vicious circle of poverty”.
Piqued by these anomalies, the wife of the Rivers State Governor, Mrs. Judith Amaechi has moved to establish 319 nursery schools to be built in all designated wards in the state.
The target according to the governor’s wife was to make available high quality start-up education for children in the rural areas who ordinarily would have access to low quality education or no education at all.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 2009 International Literacy day organised by ESI , a non- governmental organisation initiated by the governor’s wife to provide practical assistance in development and welfare of women and children, the ESI’s administrator, Mr. Nowa Omorogbe explained that the school would be provided with requisite infrastructures and trained teachers .
Omorogbe disclosed that already 300 children have been admitted in the first phase of the school founded by the governor’s wife.
He added that organisation’s vision was to reverse economic disadvantages of the rural poor, put food on their table and increase productivity by sharpening their skills which will bring development in the society.
While interacting with various NGO’s , civil Liberties Organisation and scholars at the event, The Special Media Assistant to the Governor’s wife, Mr. Dike Bekwele,urged the NGO’s to work hard and come out with their best to assist in making literacy available for all.
Customs Suspends Rice Sale As Seven Die In Stampede
The Nigeria Customs Service has announced the suspension of the sale of foodstuffs following a stampede that reportedly killed seven persons at the NCS Old Zonal Headquarters in the Yaba area of Lagos State, last Friday.
A Chief Superintendent of Customs and National Public Relations Officer for Comptroller General of Customs, Abdullahi Maiwada, disclosed the suspension of the exercise in a statement on Monday.
Nigeria Customs had said it was selling seized food items at N10,000 per 25kg to alleviate the people’s suffering as a result of the current high cost of living and other economic hardships.
Last Friday, a pregnant woman and six others reportedly died in a stampede after some suspected hoodlums attempted to force their way into the Yaba Customs office compound.
Some Lagos residents who thronged the NCS office in Yaba expressed disappointment on Monday following the suspension of the initiative.
However, in a statement on Monday evening, the NCS said the suspension became necessary considering “the recent unfortunate event.”
“We regrettably announce the suspension of this exercise until we establish what transpired on Friday, February 23, 2024,” the NCS spokesman said.
He explained that: “The disposal of the food items got off to a smooth start at about 0800hrs. We enjoyed the cooperation of the large crowd that obliged us, giving preferences to the elderly, people living with disabilities, pregnant women, and other vulnerable Nigerians who showed up for the exercise.
“This was the case up until about 1700hrs, as attested to by the over 5,000 beneficiaries and members of the press. However, unforeseen challenges arose when we ran out of stock and announced the continuation of the exercise the following day, leading to a regrettable outcome.
“The crowd became desperate and charged through our barricades in search of rice bags inside emptied containers. In the stampede that ensued, some fatalities and injuries were regrettably recorded.”
The Customs extended its “heartfelt condolences to the families of those who lost their lives during the unfortunate incident.”
The service said it was working with health authorities to establish contact and engage directly with the victims’ families on their next steps.
Court Dismisses Police Objection Against Fubara’s CoS …Restrains Police From Arresting Ehie
A Rivers State High Court in Port Harcourt, yesterday, dismissed the preliminary objection by counsel to the Nigerian Police, Celestine Dickson, challenging the jurisdiction of the Court to hear the fundamental rights suit by the Chief of Staff to Governor Siminalayi Fubara, Hon. Edison Ehie against the police for lack of merit.
The trial Judge, Justice Sika Aprioku, in a ruling, yesterday, assumed jurisdiction and held that the non-joinder of the Nigeria Police Force in a matter that the Commissioner of Police is a party to does not render the suit incompetent.
Justice Aprioku said the application by the Police lacks merit and thereby dismissed it with a cost of N100,000 in favour of Hon Edison Ehie.
Aprioku also granted the prayers of the counsel to Edison, Damian Okoro to restrain the Police from arresting, detaining, harassing, or inviting Ehie based on the trumped-up charges in the suit by Rt Hon. Martin Amaewhule in connection to the destruction of the Hallow chamber of the Rivers State House of Assembly.
Speaking to newsmen outside the courtroom, counsel to the Police, Celestine Dickson, said he would study the judgment and advise his clients accordingly.
Dickson stated, “That is the wisdom of the court and we cannot criticise the wisdom of the court. The outcome of court decisions must bind parties.
“If you are not satisfied I think you study the judgement and take the next step. The court made it clear that in a couple of minutes, we were going to have copies of the judgement. That will give us the opportunity to look at the judgement and advise our clients accordingly.
On his part, one of the counsel to the Chief of Staff, Ibioku Mac-Barango said the judgment reflects the position of the law.
Fubara Expresses Confidence In Tinubu To Address Labour Concerns
In the midst of the ongoing nationwide protest organised by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has expressed confidence in President Bola Tinubu’s ability to address the concerns raised by the organised labour and alleviate their fears.
Fubara gave the assurance during the NLC’s protest to the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday .
The State NLC, led by its chairman, Alex Agwanwor, had joined its counterparts in other parts of the country to protest against high cost of living in the country occasioned by the fuel subsidy removal by the Federal Government in May last year.
Recall that there have been a series of protests across the country over the cost of living, inflation, insecurity and hardship among Nigerians.
The NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) had on February 8 issued a 14-day nationwide strike notice to the Federal Government over the failure to implement the agreements reached on October 2, 2023 following the removal of the fuel subsidy.
Responding to a letter of demands presented to the governor by the State NLC, Fubara noted that the grievances outlined by the protesters primarily fell within the purview of the Federal Government.
The governor, who was represented by the Head of the Rivers State Civil Service, Dr. George Nwaeke, said, “To all who listened to every presentation of the labour leader as it is being read out, we can find out none is local, not originating from local source here. They are all national issues and we have hope in the Renewed Hope Agenda of the Federal Government. We have hope. And I know Governor Fubara will also deliver this message as presented by you to the President.”
Fubara further assured the protesters that his administration remained committed to alleviating the economic hardships faced by the people of Rivers State.
He highlighted initiatives such as the provision of palliative buses in response to the fuel subsidy removal and the ongoing development of 20,000 housing units for low-income earners.
The governor also emphasized his administration’s dedication to improving the welfare of civil servants, citing measures such as the employment of 10,000 youths into the state civil service, promotions, and the provision of bonuses.
He affirmed the significance of the issues raised and reiterated his commitment to prioritizing the welfare of workers in the State.
He, however, assured that the NLC’s demands would be conveyed to the President as presented.
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