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UBEC; Bobboyi’s Strides And The Apathy Of States, A Vindication. By Abubakar Yusuf

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Univeral Basic Education Commission UBEC is an institution charged with carrying out of significant functions both in the primary and post primary Education in Nigeria.

These functions are in line with the act that established the commission to operate, through direct supervision of funds disbursement, utilisation and monitoring,to ensure the purpose intended is not derailed.

Even though, the commission also operated as a route were appropriated funds from the federal government are voted and assessed for the developement in all facets of primay and secondary education across the country.

In line with the act that set up the commission,it is mandated to exercise it’s responsibility through direct intervention and counterparts funds from the 36 states of the federation.

These provisions was clearly spelt out to provide uninterrupted developement of primary and secondary education as the basic foundation towards the realization of our educational developement, and to achieve the UN goals in the education sector,as well as domestication of policies and programs relating to the continuous developement of the Education in Nigeria .

As part of it’s mandate, the commission charged with trainings and retraining of boith teaching and non teaching staffs, provision of instructional materials and other incentives to mitigate the statutory provision that will grow teaching and learning in Nigeria.

In addition to making funds available,the primacy of it’s functions is to also access counterparts funds from 36 states of the federation as a leeway to habe some level of control on the utilisation of the appropriated and released funds on yearly basis to states .

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This statutory and basic functions being carried out by UBEC overtime under the indefatigable leadership of a renowed academic and technocrat, Dr Hamid Bobboyi imbibed the strict compliance devoid of any deflection.

This is also at the backdrop of many challenges faced by the well rehearsed agency of government that ensured all the provisions that set up the commission are followed to the later, especially in the area of funds disbursement, monitoring and utilisation.

This ugly developement had reared its head overtime as the new management under the Executive Secretary,Dr Hamid Bobboyi did not concede to any intiatives that sharply negates the laid down procedures.

The shortcomings from states on the blatant refusal to access funds on the basis of either not interested in the dictates of the provision guiding UBEC operations, or flayed monitoring the utilisation of funds allocated.

But, the provisions clearly stated the assessment of funds after payment of certain percentages of counterparts funds, as monitoring the utilisation is the crux of the existence/creation of UBEC.

This general apathy from states had strengthened the commission to step up it’s intervention programs in all the states of the federation, to bridge the gap of deliberate refusal to access the readily available funds by states.

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Be it as it may ,it is practically impossible for such intervention to address the growing need in our basic educational system, especially with uncooperative attitude and recurring negligence from state governments to access readily available funds, running into over 41 Billion.

This ugly trend had affected and contributed in no small measure to the Infrastructural decay, dillapidated structures as well as ailing system, due to negative actions being displayed by state governments.

The urge to divert funds meant for UBEC projects at state level to non prioritised areas, had led to fast decay and systemic problems in our basic schools, and not obviously the denial or administrative bottlenecks from the commission.

This deliberate efforts of states to release counterparts funds contributed to the ugly pictures being witnessed all round the country,even as the commission make efforts to redressed the situation from the lapses of state governments.

This is also in addition to records that had shown the flagrant abuse of release of counterparts funds to states without regularisation overtime.

The funds jamboree of some states had militated against states for the refusal to comply with the funding provisions clearly stated by the act.

Because of obvious financial profligacy of some states that desired sanctions from UBEC,alot of idle and unacessed funds lie fallow at the commission.

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This had attracted alot of criticisms and cynicisms without due clarification which intended to draw a battle line with UBEC, whose mandate is strictly adhered to under the leadership of Dr Hamid Bobboyi,the Executive Secretary of the Universal Basic Education Commission UBEC.

But, it is crystal clear,that the onus lies with some state governments that deliberately refused to access a whopping 41 Billion, due to negation of statutory provision of counterparts funds.

It will be a great disservice to our current generation and those yet unborn for states to continue in this trend,inspite of efforts by the new commission to ensure seamless assessment of funds without meddlesomeness.

With access to budgetary provisions both in capital and recurrent,the current situation of structures and personel in the schools across the states is a wake up call for states, to redirect efforts to avoid out of school children, against one of the goals of SDGs.

The management of UBEC no doubt is alive to it’s responsibility and will not live any stone unturned in efforts to ensure education for all ,inline with the SDGs template debuted between 2020-2030.

Yusuf is a Public Affairs Analyst and can be reached on [email protected]

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Opinion

The Violence, Destruction And Tatatatatata Envisaged By APC That Never Happened.

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I can see the high level of disappointment and frustration registered on the faces of most APC leaders in Kogi State and beyond over the very successful and peaceful conduct of the just concluded PDP South West Zonal Congress in Osogbo, Osun State.

Some of the leaders have made so much negative remarks and crude comments about the just concluded and peaceful PDP South West Zonal Congress. All their negative wishes was primarily because of the involvement of Sen. Dino Melaye being the indomitable and indefatigable chairman of the screening committe.

Some had wished to hear the destruction of the process since on Sunday 11, 2021 when the exercise commenced. While some are expecting the ugly breaking news that there was gunshots everywhere, some had expected to hear the headline stating figure of deaths, injured and other casualties.

Some would have preferred the caption; Melaye escapes gun shots as thugs invaded the venue of the Congress.
These are some of the expectations of the inventors of tatatatatata proponents who have no political acceptability anywhere in Kogi State to win a peaceful, transparent and free election.
Many and more of such disturbing stories they want to hear yesterday, it never happened!

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When the news filtering out from the Women and Children Development Initiative Foundation (WOCDIF), Osogbo, venue of the PDP South West Zonal Congress were coming positive, palatable, peaceful, progressive, encouraging and successful, they began to feel sad and frustrated.

All these self acrimony and anticipated devilish wishes was all because distinguished Senator Dino Melaye was made the screening committe chairman.
How does this become a crime? Melaye’s rising popularity and political profile even after his mandate was criminally and dubiously taken, still become worrisome for them.

Some leaders of APC Kogi State endlessly waited to hear the eruption of violence and destruction in Osogbo, but it never came to pass!
Surprisingly, to demonstrate their open hatred for Sen Melaye as usual, they started cooking stories and unimaginable falsehood that the Congress has been suspended due to violence.

Considering the high political consciousness of the good people of South West, and the interest of the the two political giants, Former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose and his brother Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, nothing they did not envisage in negative.

They went further in an attempt to justify their usual lies and dirty politicking, they begin to bombard the social media platforms with the pictures of the partially characterized distruption at the PDP North West Zonal Congress held few days ago in Kaduna where some ballot boxes and papers were seen on the floor scattered.
Has anything changed for all these needles and fruitless display of political nuisance and envy?
All these happened after the propagation of a failed story and self invented lies by APC, that Sen Dino Melaye was rejected as the screening committe chairman.

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In all, whatever they might want to achieve by this crude approach to politics, their imagination and intention physical or piritual, political or personal has been consumed, defeated, shamed and caged.

Under Senator Dino Melaye chairmanship, there was proper planning and most efficient strategies were deployed to achieve sound result. Fence mending, peace building meetings, consultations among stakeholders and transparency were key factors put in palace by Senator Dino Melaye led screening committe.

Before the conclusion of the well coordinated, planned and successful congress, Fayose and Makinde embraced each other.
The two main contenders. Fayose declared openly that Gov Makinde is the leader of PDP in South West.
Taofik Arapaja and Eddy Olafeso have equally embraced each other and resolved to jointly reposition PDP in South West ahead of 2023. What more?

Sen Dino Melaye is a political strategist by all standard, put all his political enemies together, he will subdue them with his God given political wizardry.

~Gbenga Bright

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Opinion

The truth that hurt Onoja by Usman Okai Austin

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Over the weekend, convener of #RevolutionNow movement and publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore and the Deputy Governor of Kogi State, Edward Onoja, were involved in a social media war of words.


Edward’s daughter was recently admitted into the prestigious Nile University as a student. ( I have to put that student there to avoid Nigerians asking me whether she was admitted as a patient or a security agent).
An elated Edward Onoja took to his Twitter handle to wish his beloved daughter God speed ( whatever that means. You know in the Federal Religious Republic of Nigeria, we can coin anything to make our religiosity appear top notch. It is almost another kind of sin to not be religious in my country.)
I don’t think Edward did anything wrong by taking his daughter to school, taking photographs with her and wishing her success.
After all , success is what we all wish for our children. I was happy for him and the young lady, who was all smiles in the picture.
Omoyele Sowore also added a voice to the many congratulatory comments pouring in for the Onojas as a well wisher. In his prayers, he wished Edward’s daughter what a parent would naturally wish a beloved child.
But that obviously didn’t go down well with our darling deputy. He could not hold his emotions and consternation. What followed was a litany on invective. What is in Sowore’s prayer?
He prayed that the child;
1. May graduate and get a job.
2. May not be owed salaries when eventually employed.
3. May not be denied her pension after retirement.
Personally, I do not see anything wrong with this prayer. I do not think that any Nigerian would find fault with it. After all, Nigeria is the most religious in the world. The deputy governor himself goes to church. He has, on several occasions, demonstrated his sublime love for God by dedicating all his success to Him. So why the vituperation?
I would tell you why. Omoyele seemed to have touched the very truth through that cynical prayer. He squarely addressed the problems of Kogi State. The first truth glaring at Edward in the face is the total neglect of education in Kogi State. From primary to university education in Kogi State, it is a tale of deprivation and neglect. The Kogi state University is the worst, and is being referred to as a glorified secondary school by mockers. I personally spoke to a professor from the school. The erudite man complained of being owed salaries and even the current ones are paid at the discretion of the government. A lot of professors are abandoning the school for acolytes of the government.
The dream of the founder of the school, Prince Abubakar Audu , to be a world class institution and also affordable to the less privileged has been washed down the drain by a government in which Edward is a key player. The school now ranks 89th in Nigeria and 10477th in the world. A shameful reversal of fortune for a school which hasn’t lasted up to 30 years.
At the moment, the school fees have more than tripled for new and old students. For new students who are from the state, the school fees range between N57,000 and N68,000, while for those who are not from Kogi State it ranges from approximately N100,000 to N150,000.
Before you say it is still normal, please consider that in that state, many people are owed salaries. The said salaries are anything from N30,000 to N100,000, of which percentages are paid reluctantly by the government when they feel like.
These salaries are earned by only about less than 30% of Kogi’s 3.4 million strong population. The remaining over 70% are farmers, who struggle with the stubborn soil to eke out a living. These are men and women who believe that their children would one day put smiles on their faces when they are out of school.
The university education is being pushed out of their reach by means of the increased fees. Their parents, those who are lucky to work in government are not paid salaries and the school fees are not affordable.
We haven’t talked about primary and secondary education. The teachers are owed multiple salaries, and are forced back into the farms. They come to school when they are free. There is no government presence in the villages. The parent-teacher associations of most village and suburban schools have decided to find a way around the problem. They have resorted to employing secondary school leavers and other volunteers to teach in those secondary and primary schools under the title of PTA teachers. Their responsibility is on the association which pays them anything from N2,000 to N10,000 monthly.
Pray, what kind of service would anyone expect from such a situation? The first problem is that they are not qualified to teach. So, they would end up churning out half baked students and continue a circle of mediocrity. When their products get to the university, they are behind their peers on many fronts.
Secondly, a man who is receiving that kind of wage is not happy. What can N10,000 buy in today’s Nigeria? They too would look for alternatives that would better their living standard.
The story of Kogi state is a litany of woes. Edward should have simply said Amen to Sowore’s prayer instead of trying to put up a face saving argument that didn’t even come close to address the subtle indictment.
He stated that Sowore should have kept family out of politics. I want to ask Edward a simple question. Is it not politics that made his family the second family in Kogi state? The children they employ as thugs in Kogi state to run their political races for them are also people’s children.
They education system that has died in their hands are to breed good and responsible children. How can you destroy the future of other people’s children and be angry that yours was mentioned? Are some children more children than others?
Lastly, the kinds of words and angry vituperation that oozed from his response to Sowore are totally unbecoming of a man of his class.

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They are so vitriolic and completely lacking in substance. It shows one thing. That the man and his boss do not brook any other opinion that does not serve their interests. They want to be praised, worshipped and called ‘Excelon..’, whatever that means.
What is good for the goose is good for the gender. That’s what Sowore has implied. Edward had better sit down and provide the answer. He should stop those use of grammar that say nothing to us.

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Opinion

THE MAN, BUBA MARWA: WHY NIGERIANS AND THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY MUST SUPPORT HIM IN THE FIGHT AGAINST DRUGS– By Amb. Sunny Irakpo

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Nigerians were in ecstatic mood some months back when the former military administrator of Lagos and Borno states resumed office as the new Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).

The anti-drug agency has a well-known reputation for apprehending individuals and groups that are into exportation and importation of banned substances into the country. In recent years, the NDLEA hasn’t been living up to its reputation of combating crime that are related to the production, packaging, usage and marketing of banned drugs all over the country. The agency, being one of the agencies working with the federal ministry of health, has recorded remarkable and spectacular achievements since its establishment. They have made visible progress in reducing the rate at which people produce and market hard drugs.

In the last decade, the scourge of hard drugs production and marketing has increased rapidly where present report have it that an estimated 15 million Nigerians are drug addicts of which one(1) out of every four(4) females in the country is a drug addict according to the United Natuons Office on Drug Control in 2018. We have seen cases of Nigerians making attempts to either import (smuggle) or export hard drugs in and out of the country. There have been countless cases of people that were apprehended by the Customs and NDLEA officials at our international airports and our land borders in recent years.
Nigeria as a country lack sensitization programs on the dangers of drug abuse and the monumental risk factor of involving in drug smuggling. Due to many psychosocial factors, many Nigerians have been lured into drug businesses. It has become prevalent amongst both genders. These days, you see women hiding drugs in different parts of their bodies and the men using different schemes to swindle immigration officers at the airports in their attempts to smuggle or export banned substance into or out of the country.

These acts are becoming prevalent in recent years and well-meaning Nigerians have been expressing concerns about the organization and its reputation that is fading away due to negligence and lack of government’s investment and adequately budgeting resources needed for the agency to thrive in curbing the business of hard drugs and apprehending its dealers.

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So, with the coming of Gen. Buba Marwa as the helmsman of the agency, all hopes have been restored and there are huge optimism that the organization will live up to its expectations by combating drug abuse and apprehending unlicensed dealers and illicit drug traffickers. The new NDLEA BOSS is a man with a stellar record in corporate management and organization excellence as a former military administrator of Lagos and Borno states, where some of us as pupils/students then in primary and secondary schools got familiar with his performance as his name rang bell even to the ears of the deaf of his noble achievements and fight against criminality in Lagos state in particular. As a concerned citizen and unrepentant follower of his track record, he has done excellently well in all the national tasks that were assigned to him by the federal government, especially in the area of drug management and control which he keeps demonstrating leadership capacity with undeniable results.

Haven attained high scores based on his performance from the previous appointment as the Chairman of the Presidential Committee for the Elimination of Drug Abuse in Nigeria, where he championed a comprehensive report to the federal government on the committee’s findings which necessitated his appointment as the new boss of the organization. His recommendation was as a result of his sheer determination and concern to save millions of Nigerians who are currently addicted to the menace of drugs. Needless to say, Gen. Buba Marwa is an astute gentleman with a penchant for excellence, growth, quality, a carrier of goodwill and discipline needed for achieving organization’s goals and objectives who for some of us are thus inspired and motivated by his personality, deeds and outstanding records as a gallant soldier and for his emergence as the man whom the cap fits. He has displayed readiness and will power as someone with the technical know-how and character to reposition the agency to greater heights.

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Why Nigerians and the world should support this distinguished Nigerian. From all performance indicators, the man is a goal-getter with proven integrity, goodwill and a detribalised personality who ensures that patriotism and national interest are pursued in place of personal aggrandizement. Just recently, the agency within 2 months has recorded successes worthy of commendation. For the whole of 2019, it is on record that the Murtala Mohammed International Airport NDLEA Command only recovered 34.109kg of cocaine and 21.79kg of heroine but with less than 2months of the new drug Sheriff in 2021, the command has seized 63.217kg of cocaine and 950kg heroine respectively.

In cannabis seizure, Edo state was in the news recently as 16,344 bags and seed weighing 233,778kg with estimated street value of the illicit drugs put at over 1.4 billion naira was seized, should Kogi state be mentioned where the command seized 10,978,399kg of the illicit drugs worth street value of 3billion naira seized or the 26 hectares of land recover, the 313, 36.759kg destroyed, should the seized cocaine in Lagos worth 30 billion naira be mentioned or the container loaded with tramadol be mentioned and so on.

The passion that is being exhibited by the new NDLEA Chief in this task is worth of emulation, couple with dedication, motivation, assurances of welfare packages and reward system to performing personnel, calls for partnerships and collaborations, anti-drug tours and visits etc. All these are signs of a dogged and pragmatic leadership. Sadly, the drug barons have found huge market within our youthful population by destroying their futures to make wealth. Nigerians should realize that when you throw a stone to the market, you won’t know who it will hit. Drug dealers as you throw stones, it can hit one of your relatives who go to the same market for trade.

In my noblest call, Nigerians should throw their weight behind this gallant soldier by supporting the fight at the family and community level. No youth should die aimlessly and ignorantly. No nation can survive nationhood or develop if the youths are sacrificed at the altar of drug abuse which is our current peril as a state. As we cry every day due to the high level of insecurity, kidnapping, banditry, criminality, cultism etc. Nigeria needs the youths for her inheritance to be preserved. Frankly speaking, the drug scourge is not a problem for the new NDLEA leader, but that of all Nigerians. The obvious fact is that no family is safe whether rich, middle class or the poor.
The federal government of Nigeria including the legislative and the executive arms must not pay lip service, the need for huge fund injection to help get the needed result is undebatable. Corporate organisations, religious bodies, traditional institutions, well-meaning individuals, the international community and donor agencies should come to our aid so as to help rescue Nigerian youths from total destruction in order to fulfil their purposes of creation.

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At our end, SILEC Initiatives as an organization is very much effective and relevant as we are in the forefront in the fight. We are glad to recognize the proactive steps taken by the head of the NDLEA and we are looking forward to working with him as he interfaces with all the NGOs that are into anti-drug sensitization and counselling.
There is indeed a breath of fresh air in the NDLEA and as an organization that is into anti-drug campaigns for over a decade now, we are already warming up to further expand our scope of work as it is our tradition to work with all government agencies that are into combating drug abuse. The need for we all as citizens and corporate citizens to stand and save Nigeria from this habitual and moral decadence is NOW!

Amb. Sunny Irakpo is the founder/President Silec Initiatives, youth leader and anti-drug abuse advocate, U.S Government sponsored Exchange Alumni of the International visitors leadership program (IVLP) in combating drug addiction and the opioid crisis, bureau of educational and cultural affairs, U.S Department of State Washington DC

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