President Muhammadu Buhari says it is now a crime for parents to deny their children basic education in the country.
The president stated this when he inaugurated the National Economic Council for the year 2019-2023 at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He also stressed the need to take very seriously and enforce very rigorously the statutory provisions on free and compulsory basic education.
He said: “Section 18(3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended places on all of us here an obligation to eradicate illiteracy and provide free and compulsory education.
“Section 2 of the Compulsory Free Universal Basic Education Act provides that every government in Nigeria shall provide free, compulsory and universal basic education for every child of primary and junior secondary school age.
“It is indeed a crime for any parent to keep his child out of school for this period.
“In my view, when a government fails to provide the schools, teachers and teaching materials necessary for basic education, it is actually aiding and abetting that crime.
“This is therefore a call to action. I would like to see every governor rise from this meeting and rally his local government Chairmen towards ensuring that our schools offer the right opportunities and provide the needed materials and teachers for basic education, at the minimum.
“If we are able to do this, the benefits will surely manifest themselves.’’
Buhari noted that the first nine years of basic education were crucial for the development of any child and thus could not be toyed with.
He said: “Ensuring proper education during the first nine years of schooling means that our children start off their lives with some discipline and education.
“They will be safeguarded from roaming the streets, and protected from all the evil influences that assail idle hands and idle minds.”
The president urged the governors to make a firm commitment to be personally involved in ensuring that every child of school age actually goes to school throughout the crucial nine years of basic education.
He said the Federal Government on its part would strive to extend the school feeding programme which would not only encourage school enrolment but also enhance the health and learning capabilities of pupils.
He said the government would also assist states as much as possible to access the counterpart funding provided by UBEC for the development of basic education.
The president also charged state governments to make the security of lives and property top on their agenda.
NEC, which was established by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended, is chaired by the Vice-President.
Membership of the Council includes governors of the 36 states, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Ministers of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Agriculture, FCT and the Minister of State, Petroleum.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Budget and National Planning serves as Secretary to the Council.