Article from www.nigeriasolidarity.org --- Campaign for Democratic and Workers' Rights in Nigeria


ETTEH SCANDAL: One of the Reasons Education Will Remain in Shambles

Chinedu Bosah,
Secretary, ERC 162 Ipaja Road Agbotikuyo Agege Lagos edurightsforall@yahoo.co.uk


4 September 2007

The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) feels strongly that education will continue to be in shambles as long as there are corruption, waste, profligacy, which take root from the anti-poor neo-liberal policies of the government. A situation where there are cuts in social spending like education, health care, etc makes huge but loose money only available for looting and corrupt enrichment.

To us, to spend N579million on renovation and furnishing of the official residences of the speaker of the House of Representative, Mrs Olubunmi Etteh and the deputy speaker, Babangida Nguroje and also to buy 12 jeeps for principal leaders in the house is a crime against the Nigeria youths and students.

Spending huge public resources on vanity appears the pastime of people at high places in Nigeria. It would be recalled that the former Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mr. Gaius Obaseki claimed in 2003 that N240.4million wasted in maintaining two permanent suites at NICON Hilton would not be enough to build a house for him. He even went further to state that he was the cheapest GMD, NNPC has ever had. Besides, the government through RMAFC has just increased the salary and allowance of political office holders and bureaucrats by at least 200% such that the already overfed 17545 political office holders will earn at least 4.5trillion in the next 4 years. This and many outright looting go at all level of government while education is a deplorable state.

Profligacy and corrupt practices are taking place at a time the government at all level have repeatedly said that they are not interested in funding public utilities because there is no money and that the private individuals-like Mrs. Etteh, Gius-Obaseki, Alamasyea, Tafa Balogun etc., who have used their privileges to enrich themselves will run the economy. In other words, in line with the privatisation malady virtually all our public schools suffer acute neglect and in some cases the student hostels and the CBN schools has been sold to private individuals while all Unity Schools are to privatized soon. For example, the primary school (Holy Cross primary School)-whose picture was published in Punch of Friday August 24, 2007, madam speaker attended at Ikire Osun State is in a complete sorry state. The classrooms are so dilapidated that animals cannot be properly reared in such an environment. Yet the same Madam speaker is busy wasting our resources while our schools including the one she attended cannot carry out any meaningful educational activities.

The ERC hereby take exception to President YarAdua position that suggest that there is no problem if due process of law was followed before reaching at the decision at the House of Representatives in awarding the contracts, and thus investigation should be centered on whether due process was followed. To us, there can be no justification for spending such an outrageous amount of money for renovation of a house even if due process was followed in a country that has 300,000 children on the streets-children without parental care, without education, shelter, health etc. Besides, out of 33million that are supposed to be in secondary school only 6.4million are in schools most of whom cannot even acquire quality education. Presently, Nigerians harbours the 5th largest number of illiterates in the world with about 22.2 million estimated. This is also a country where 70% of her citizens live on less that N125 (1$) per day.

With all these shocking revelations of corrupt practices taking place in high places, it shows that Nigeria has enough resources to guarantee free quality, public funded education from nursery to university including adult education.

ERC is opposed to legalized official looting wherein political office holders and bureaucrats will approve for themselves outrageous salary and allowance. We hereby call for all political office holders and bureaucrats to earn the average wage of a skilled worker, which excludes proven expenses carried out in the course of doing official duties. This and abrogation of official secrecy wherein all Nigerians will have access to all official information and democratic management of our resources by elected representative of the oppressed class are the best way to stop this high level of insensitivity to the plight of Nigerian masses.

The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) calls for an immediate removal and a public trial of the speaker and the deputy speaker and all those involved. This entails an independent probe by elected members of the House, labour, civil society etc. We are equally calling for an independent probe panel that consist of elected representative of workers (NLC, TUC etc.), civil society, communities etc., to look into all corrupt practices since 1960 with the aim to reclaim all monies looted in order to massively invest it in education, health care, roads etc., that will eventually create jobs to wipe out poverty.