ILORIN – Kwara State Government and former President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki are at each other’s necks over the distribution of instructional materials to public secondary schools in Kwara central senatorial district.
The government positioned that the erstwhile Senate President jumped protocol by taking the materials to schools directly without carrying the ministry of education along.
The state also added that personal identities of the former Senate President were emblazoned on them, stressing that it was not aware of the distribution of these instructional materials.
But Saraki countered that the state government’s position, stating the the ministry has misconceptions about the true picture of the processes involved in capturing and implementation of projects of this nature.
In a statement, spokesperson of the Kwara Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development, Yakub K. Aliagan said that: “The appropriate thing to do is to send those materials to the Ministry of Education which has a statutory duty of vetting learning materials for quality control and then approve such for distribution. Not doing so was a violation of a basic rule which is key to strengthening our institutions and keeping standards.
“Besides, it is wrong for anyone to emblazon their images or personal logos on instructional materials made with public resources for distribution in public schools. The said materials were some sort of Constituency Projects which have been approved and funded by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“It is instructive to note that the Kwara State Ministry of Education recently approached Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq to mass-produce instructional materials with his picture emblazoned on them ahead of school resumption and the Governor rejected the proposal on the ground that there should be no personalisation of projects executed with public funds.
“Flowing from the above, the authorities at the schools were right to have rejected those materials because the Ministry of Education was not aware of such and also because there should be no politicisation of education, whether directly or indirectly, especially at the basic level where the children are very impressionable.
“Since the materials had been produced with government funds, we urge the Mandate Office of Senator Bukola Saraki to return them to the Ministry of Education after having replaced the covers emblazoned with personal photographs or political identities.”
Reacting Director of Project and Empowerment, Mandate Office of Senator Bukola Saraki, Otukoko Olayinka Ibrahim said that “the distribution of the instructional materials is a constituency project facilitated by the immediate past Senate President Bukola Saraki through the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC); that the constituency projects with UBEC is not limited to distribution of books, it include: Construction of classrooms, provision of Pupils and Teachers furniture, distribution of customized notebooks and textbooks (as it appears in the UBEC documents). distribution of Science Laboratory equipments, distribution of Mathematics kits, distribution of computer systems and generator sets; that during the needs assessment conducted by the mandate office, the office of Dr. Saraki collaborated with the LGEA offices which are directly in charge of basic schools across the four LGs for capturing of schools with basic infrastructure and material needs and same was communicated to UBEC by Dr. Saraki’s office for implementation.
“That prior to distribution of the items, the mandate office informed the LGAs offices again to invite the selected schools, as shortlisted by UBEC to mandate for collection of “approved” items for their respective schools. So to say the State Government is not aware of the distribution is will throw many unanswerable questions to one’s mind.” (The Nation)