Sunday, 19 March 2017

Press Release: Governor Okowa is killing Education in Delta State

It is no longer news that the education of our primary school pupils, which is the bedrock of development in every society, and for which Delta State was once proud, is now undergoing serious threat under Governor Ifeanyi Okowa's administration. The government has been churning out innumerable anti-teacher policies for some time now, and it is obvious that Okowa either wants teachers to remain in abject poverty or does not really care about how pupils in public schools will secure a strong stepping-stone to a brighter future. The reasons for coming to these conclusions are not far-fetched.

Since his assumption of duty as Governor, Okowa has been seriously pre-occupied with a systemic exercise that seems to have one singular objective; which is to reduce teachers’ salaries. Governor Okowa set up a screening exercise that was ordinarily supposed to help in making the teachers more effective, but in essence, it has become a ploy to undermine the teachers. This exercise has been used to pave the way for the implementation of obnoxious deductions from teachers’ meager salaries. These continuous deductions are unwarranted, wicked and mostly unjustifiable; and have resulted in avoidable crisis that has sent both teachers and our children out of public schools. As we speak, our public primary and secondary schools are under lock and key as a result of the strike action embarked upon by the teachers. The Governor did not need to wait for public school teachers to go on strike, before attempting to right the wrongs that he pioneered. Who can stand the pain of watching a child been deprived of education? Has the Governor become so insensitive to matters of relevance to the people he governs?

To rub this in, he ordered the demotion of a large number of Primary School Teachers from Level 12 to 10, and many others from Level 9 to 8; yet he has not convinced the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) and teachers themselves of the rationale for these demotions. The teachers have shouted themselves hoarse at these oppressive and authoritarian policies of Gov. Okowato no avail. 

Not done, he imposed the cost ofa laptop on each teacher and ordered further illegal deduction of monies from their paltry salaries to cover the cost without seeking their express consent. It has been suggested, and this is quite nauseating, that these laptops were supplied by one of Okowa’s acolytes at hyper-inflated prices, and this further pauperizesthese long-suffering and "down-trodden" teachers. At the end of every month, and after theseillegal deductions, teachers are left with barely anything to cope with the typical challenges of life.

Additionally, Okowa has stopped paying teachers legal emoluments such as Leave Transport Grant and Promotion arrears, and has not paid teachers’ salaries since December 2016, which makes it obvious that Gov. Okowa's agenda will surely push dedicated school teachers off the cliff.

These policies are very draconian, inhuman and unacceptable. Teachers and their families in Delta State arenow in a state of despair wondering whether this government has any human milk of kindness. Okowa’s government is obviously so self-centred and it is not working in theinterest of Deltans; rather it is constantly looking for ways and means of "obtaining" more money to fund its selfish agenda.

Evidence already abound thatOkowa does not have the interest of Deltans at heart. The people are aware of how he has been emasculating DESOPADEC, the only agency of the state government that was set up to work specificallyin the interest of oil-producing communities and give them a sense of belonging. Therefore, his actions against teachers are not so surprising.

Notwithstanding these challenges, Okowa has been raising a super toast to his political cliques and followers. This action of his makes itclear that he has a disdain for the working class in Delta State. Civil servants are owed salaries without end; therefore they continue to experience the brunt of this misrule. The question that comes to mind is: What has Gov. Okowa done with the tons of money that have been accruing to Delta State monthly from the Federation Account and the vast internally generated revenue? What happened to the bail-out funds from the Federal Government and the London-Paris Club loan refunds that were made available to cushion the pain of our teachers, civil servants and pensioners?What happened to the billions of Naira allocated to DESOPADEC that may have been “assigned” to some bogus projects and probably siphoned through the back door?

The “thirst-for-money” by this present government cannot be quenched. It now seeksinternally-generated revenue (IGR) by way of rentand multiple taxationof businesses which goes as low as “keke-riders” (tricycle), commercial drivers, micro and small businesses, and this has made life sounbearable for Deltans. Gov. Okowa does not seem to be sensitive to the difficulties in the land and the harsh business climate in the state, especially since the departure of major oil companies and related businessesas a result of the situation of insecurity. 

Clearly, this government has no capacity to turn the fortunes of Delta State around because instead of creating more opportunities, it is choking off the few businesses that remain, and making life difficult for all workers. Since 2015, Deltans have been waiting for Gov. Okowa to live up to his promise of "prosperity for all"; but thus far, what they are witnessing are the very opposite. His actions and policies are causing more pain and poverty throughout the state, and rather than focuson creating a more conducive environment for business to thrive, he seems determined to scrape off the little that hard-working Deltans have put aside to sustain themselves and their families.

We, Delta State Chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC) will continue to speak out against these manyatrocities and injusticesin the state today. We stand with the ‘silent majority’ of Deltans; and will speak for the legitimate rights of teachers and their families. We call for the implementation of agreements that were reached in good faith. We demand for payment of outstanding salaries to civil servants, the emoluments of pensioners and the payment of teachers so that our children can go back to school and get the education they deserve.

All well-meaning Deltans cannot reconcile why Governor Okowa cannot pay teachers, civil servants, etc; yet he has been appointing and paying countless Assistants and Aides that he has assimilated from all the nooks and crannies of the State and buying exotic cars for them just because he hopes to depend on them to support his now myopic and futile political future. Well, let Okowa be told that his days at Government House Asaba are numbered. We are convinced that his actions and inactions arewell calculated to scrape the state dry and leave it more impoverished, just as every previous PDP administration in the state. 

We enjoin such good-hearted Deltans to prevail on Okowa to review his oppressive policies against our teachers andcivil servants. We say "ENOUGH" to his toying with the future of our children. We must remind him that education remains the sure pathway to the sustenance of our state, and that our teachers, civil servants and pensioners cannot be so severely punished for the good they do. 

Deltans must seek out an alternate worker-friendly government that will put away these cruel tendencies and usher in a ray of hope for the future. Therefore, therecent embarrassment that followed Governor Okowa's endorsement by a former Governor who was jailed for tampering with our treasury and stealing our common patrimony is not worth our saliva. History has shown us that “birds of same feather flock together”, and as it has been said, "Show me your friends, and I will tell who you are". We know who is Governor Okowa is standing with already. He is not standing with hard-working people of Delta State. He is not standing with our teachers, civil servants,nor the pensioners that have slaved in the past for this state.

We insist that our public workers must receive better and fairer treatment, and the future of our state must be protected by all men and women of goodwill from the vices of yesterday and today’s PDP maladministration.

Delta State must be free!! 

APC - Committed to Rescue Delta State

Engr. Leonard Obibi
State Publicity Secretary (Ag) 
All Progressives Congress
Delta State.

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