The education sector in Kogi under Gov Yahaya Bello is working despite criticisms due to misinformation. OYIBO SALIHU reports.
His Excellency Governor Yahaya Adoza Bello took the mantle of leadership of Kogi state on January 27, 2016.
The governor being a product of a quality educational institution, the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, knew that education is the bed rock of any societal development.
It was in realization of this that Governor Bello began to set his priority right by making the sector topmost in his five thematic areas of focus.
By this, he ensured that Basic and Tertiary Education were given the desired attention.
To rejuvenate the sector, he brought all the parastatals under education closely to enable them advance the progress of education in the state. However, through prompt payment of counterpart fund, the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) became an example of government policy towards a standardized basic education in the state.
In that line, under the present administration, more than 2,000 classroom blocks were renovated in both primary and secondary schools across the state.
The effort is to give them a face-lift and create conducive environment for teaching and learning; this is in addition to over 100,000 customized desks and chairs distributed to schools across the three senatorial districts as part of education reform.
Establishment of model centres
Apparently, to boost the sector, the governor established the GYB Model Primary Schools across the 239 wards of the state and also established GYB Model Science Secondary Schools each in the three senatorial districts of the state, including Lokoja the state capital.
The secondary schools were built and equipped with state of the art teaching and learning materials including laboratories, well furnished class rooms, staff rooms, computer centre and modern sport facilities, among others.
Employment of teachers
The government was no doubt worried by the shortage of teachers in secondary schools across the state as it was clear that some secondary schools do not have more than three teachers including the principal.
Therefore, to ensure qualitative teaching especially in the newly- established science schools, Governor Bello gave an approval for the recruitment of 4,000 teachers.
However, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in collaboration with Kogi State Science, Technical Education & Teaching Service Commission (STETSCOM) have concluded the recruitment processes awaiting issuance of appointment letters to successful candidates.
Midas touch in other areas
Again, desirous of doing more in the sector, the education-friendly governor as he is being referred to in the state, kick-started and completed the construction of 50-bed capacity hostels at the College of Nursing and Midwifery Obangede in Okehi.
The construction of library extension at the College of Education (Technical), Kabba in Kabba-Bunu is among the numerous efforts of the governor to leave the sector better than he met it.
State poly got a facelift
Also, Kogi State Polytechnic Lokoja established in 1993 had in the past suffered from infrastructural neglect as the polytechnic clinic, for instance lacked medical personnel to render service to students and staff. The library of the institution according to investigation lost many useful text books during raining seasons due to roof leakages for many years.
Irked by the situation, Gov Bello took a bold step to tackle the problems which included the dilapidated lecture theatres, security office, the clinic, hostels and the library. He embarked on renovations and construction of new buildings in the institution.
Today, the institution can boast of having a brand new administrative block after 29 years. The edifice has conveniently provided a befitting office accommodation for staff.
One of the projects provided in the polytechnic that is serving the students, staff and indeed the host community is the 30-bed space health centre with three full-time medical doctors with National Youth Service Corps members as support medics and nurses.
In addition to the new structure provided for the polytechnic, a model security house which gives the security office a facelift was also provided for the institution to tackle insecurity and cultism.
For effective functioning and running of the institution, the management through the support of the governor automated its system in the institution.
The automation is to enable the institution to optimize resource allocation, reduce cost and manage students’ admissions, registrations, examinations, payment of school fees and effective issuance of students results as against the past where students who graduated many years cannot access their original certificates.
The new CUSTECH Osara
Gov Bello believes that Science and Technology is crucial for wealth creation, economic growth and enhancement of standardised living.
In view of this, he established the Confluence University of Science and Technology (CUSTECH) Osara in 2020 and appointed Professor Sadiku Salawu as its pioneer vice-chancellor.
Three years after, the university is growing rapidly and has bridged the gap for Kogi indigenes who seek admission outside the state and admission seekers from neighbouring states.
The university currently has five faculties with 19 courses all duly approved by Nigeria Universities Commission (NUC)
To achieve all these, Governor Bello did what no other governor in Nigeria has done by allocating 30 per cent of the state annual budget to education even when UNESCO recommended only 26 per cent.
Complementing the effort of the governor, the standard flagbearer of the All Progressive Congress APC in the November 11, 2023 gubernatorial election in Kogi state, Alhaji Ahmed Usman Ododo last year (2022) sponsored the distribution of over 11, 000 modified chemistry and physics textbooks to all the senior secondary schools to uplift the teaching and learning of science subjects in Kogi state.
The distribution of textbook was aimed at supporting the vision of Governor Yahaya Bello in transforming the educational sector from what it used to be in the past.
Aside Ododo’s support in education, he also established a 30-beds hospital at Upogoro his community to drive the health revolution of the governor in taking quality healthcare to the door steps of the people at the grassroots.
Commenting on the effort of the APC candidate, a secondary school teacher Nuhu Salawu based in Lokoja said “if Ododo’s can used his money to support education and health needs of the rural communities then when he become the governor of the state he will definitely consolidate on the achievements of Governor Yahaya Bello”
Education commissioner speaks
Speaking on some of the achievements recorded by the administration, the state commissioner for education, science and technology Mr Wemi Jones said Gov Bello has made impressive marks on the sector in a way that has not been witnessed since the creation of the state in August 1991.
The commissioner spoke to journalists in Okene recently during the distribution of 11,000 Physics and Chemistry textbooks to senior secondary schools under the state government school adoption and mentorship programme.
He said the governor has not only provided the needed funds to all the tertiary institutions in the state, but also provided the needed facilities and created conducive environment for learning and teaching through continuous issuance of welfare package for both teaching and non-teaching staff.
“The result of the effort and commitment of Governor Yahaya Bello towards education has culminated into the hundred percent accreditation of courses offered in all state-owned higher institutions.
“In addition, the governor ensured that all the 48 courses offered in Kogi State University Ayingba secured full accreditation from NUC making it the first time ever since the establishment of the institution.
“Aside from accreditation, the institution also emerged 25th out of the 170 public and private universities in Nigeria that have full accreditation for all courses offered.
“Kogi state polytechnic, Lokoja also shared the joy of full accreditation of all courses offered at the institution as it achieved 100 per cent success in the recent accreditation exercise conducted by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE).”
Jones who attributed the successes to Governor Yahaya Bello’s unflinching support and commitment to the development of education in the state, said another regulatory body, the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) also found the two state-owned Colleges of Education namely College of Education Ankpa and College of Education Technical, Kabba worthy of full accreditation of the courses offered by them making it first-ever in the history of the two colleges.
According to him, the College of Education Technical, Kabba presented 17 courses offered at the college and got full accreditation in 2017, noting that Gov Yahaya Bello has also completed 10 buildings at the permanent site and provided a big bus to ease movement of staff and students aside from other facilities.
The commissioner said aside from accreditations of courses, one other big achievement of the governor in education is academic stability as students on resumption know when they would graduate without any disruption.
“This of course has made higher institutions in the state reliable as students from neighbouring states jostle to gain admission into the state-owned institutions because they are sure of graduating on record time,” the commissioner added.
Commenting, a retired primary school teacher, Mallam Tijani Abdul praised the governor for his landmark achievements in education.
“I can attest that before Gov Yahaya Bello took the mantle of leadership of the state, primary schools structure in the rural areas were in a state of dilapidation and begging for attention. It would interest you to know that during raining seasons, pupil were allowed to go home during lesson hour because some of the classes were leaking.
“But today, virtually all such classes have been given a face-lift while renovations are still ongoing in some schools. I am appealing to the governor to also give approval for the recruitment of primary school teachers because most good hands have gone into retirement as a result of years of service,” he said.