Imo Govt. Spends 40bn Naira On Free Tertiary Education

Imo Govt. Spends 40bn Naira On Free Tertiary EducationThe Imo State government says it has spent over 40 billion naira on its free tertiary education policy since inception four years ago.

The State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, made the disclosure at the Heroes Square in Owerri, the Imo State capital in southeast Nigeria.

He was speaking during the ongoing revalidation and verification exercise organised for Imo indigenes who are beneficiaries of the free education programme in all state-owned tertiary institutions in the state.

Addressing the students, Governor Okorocha who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Mr Uche Nwosu, noted that the state government has decided to concentrate on Imo indigenes and drop non-indigenes from the programme.

He explained that the state government has spent about 40 billion naira to sustain the policy, adding that it would have to drop non-indigenes from the scheme as Imo indigenes in other state-owned schools across Nigeria do not enjoy such benefit.

The governor, however, assured the students of the government’s commitment to sustaining the programme beyond the life of the present administration.

Drop Non-indigenes

“Nothing less than 40 billion has been spent in the last five years to sustain this free education policy.

“But as you know, our Imo sons and daughters in other schools outside Imo State are not benefiting any similar scheme in their various schools and we can’t keep shouldering their expenses.

“Like the saying: charity begins at home; we need to take care of our own first before others. So we have decided to drop non-indigenes from the exercise,” he said.

Governor Okorocha explained further that the essence of the ongoing revalidation and verification of students was to generate the accurate data of students and to also ascertain that students enjoying the programme were majorly of Imo extraction.

“The idea of this exercise is to capture (those) who are exactly Imo State citizens and to build a data base of who they are, and to inculcate in them the fact that government is training them for free, despite the very lean resources that is available to the government.

“From the form, they have to go back to their villages and get endorsement from their traditional ruler and also get endorsement from the secretary of the CGC (that is President-general).

“By that, we will know that they are from so so and so local government (and) let me tell you that some of them don’t even know their local government.

“The free education has come to stay,” he noted.

Dreams Of Better Educational Standard

In an interview with Channels Television, some of the students said that the free education programme has actually helped them achieve their dreams of a better and higher educational standard without payment.

A student said “because of the free education, I could achieve a lot in the medical school.

“I have not paid a dime since I got admission into the university (and) my siblings are here.

“If not for the free education, I don’t think there is a way we can do it but I just thank the government for giving us the free education”.

At the inception of the Governor Okorocha led administration in 2011, education was declared free at primary and post-primary levels in all public schools in Imo State.

The government subsequently extended the gesture to all the state-owned tertiary institutions on February 14, 2012, including the Imo State School of Nursing and Health Technology.

As an extension of the free education programme in November 2012, the government slashed the tuition fee of non-indigenes schooling in the state-owned tertiary institutions by 50%.

However, the revalidation and verification exercise is supposed to last for two weeks of which students are meant to take their forms to their traditional rulers and government liaison officers in their communities for identification and return the form to the state government within the specified period.


Azazi Buried In Heroes Square

Former National Security Adviser, Andrew Iwoye Azazi was on Saturday buried at the Ijaw National Heroes Square in Yenegoa, the capital of Bayelsa state.

The late Azazi, a four star general retired from service on 20th August 2008 and was appointed National Security Adviser on October 2010. He was the Chairman of Bayelsa State post flood disaster management committee before his death through a helicopter crash while returning from burial ceremony of the father of an aide to President Goodluck Jonathan in Bayelsa State.

The casket, draped in the nation’s green-white-green colours, bearing the remains of the late General, arrived the venue of the funeral service, in a Nigerian Army ambulance marked, NA 459 E 01 at 10.02 am.

When the casket was brought out from the olive coloured ambulance, it was carried by officers of the rank of Major General to the podium specifically set up for the purpose of the commendation service while a military helicopter was hovering over the arena ostensibly on reconnaissance mission and in honour of the departed four-star general.

The solemn ceremony commenced shortly after President Goodluck Jonathan, his wife, and Governor Seriake and his wife arrived the venue at about 10.30am.

Other dignitaries at the funeral ceremony were the Chairman of the Governors Forum, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi and his wife, Judith; Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State; former Bayesa State governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha; former Chief of the Defence Staff, Gen Alexander Ogomudia (rtd); Rear Admiral John Kpokpogiri (rtd); former governor of old Rivers State, King Alfred Diete-Spiff; former NDDC Managing Director and Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Timi Alaibe; former JTF commander in the Niger Delta, Major General Sarkin Yakin Bello (rtd); PFN/CAN President Ayo Oritsejafor; and former transport minister, Rear Admiral Festus Porbeni.

Also present were former Governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke; Speaker of the Bayesa State House of Assembly, Benson Kombowei; Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Allison-Madueke; Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah; Minister of Niger Delta, Godsday Orubebe; and the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd).

Speaking at the funeral service, President Jonathan described the late Azazi as a patriotic Nigerian.

He said, “Saturday, December 15, 2012 was a sad day in the history of Nigeria. Gen Azazi, though we are from Bayelsa State and the Ijaw ethnic nationality, I never met him until 2004 when the then Brigadier Azazi was made the Director of Military Intelligence.

“I was then the deputy governor of Bayelsa. Somebody came to me to say one of our own had been made the DMI boss and that was a prestigious posting in the army. And I decided I was going to receive him and have a little party for him. I hosted him one evening in Abuja at an Officer’s Mess. From that time, we remained in touch; then he was promoted to Major General and made the GOC One Division, Kaduna and then he was also made the chief of the army staff. That was another level of our interaction in 2006, by which time; I was the governor of Bayelsa State. I also hosted him as chief of the army staff alongside the current Minister of Petroleum Resources, then as the first female executive director of Shell. It was also my first time of meeting her.

“He was made chief of defence staff in 2007 when I was vice president to the late President Umaru Musa Yar’dua. I also made him the NSA when I became president. I saw him as somebody who meant well for this country. Sometimes, people wonder why good people die, it is quite touching.”

President Jonathan urged Nigerians to imbibe the qualities of the late General saying that “if we change our attitude to do what is right, the country will change for the best.”