The Kwara State Government has said that personalising constituency project was responsible for Kwara public schools’ rejection of instructional materials donated by the former President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki.
A statement from the Press Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development, Yakub Aliagan, on Monday said the ministry was not aware of the donation initially.
It said: “The State Government wasn’t aware of the distribution of these instructional materials in the first instance.
“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.”
Aliagan added that Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq had earlier rejected a proposal to emblazon his personal picture on instructional materials for public schools.
According to him, it is instructive to note that the Kwara State Ministry of Education recently approached the governor to mass-produce instructional materials with his picture emblazoned on them ahead of school resumption and the he rejected the proposal.
He said: “He rejected it 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 Saraki to return them to the Ministry of Education after having replaced the covers emblazoned with personal photographs or political identities.”
But reacting, Saraki in a statement by Otukoko Olayinka Ibrahim, Director of Project and Empowerment of his Mandate Office, said: “We have just read a release by Kwara State Government, through the State Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development, stating the position of the state government on the distribution of instructional materials to Schools within the Kwara Central Senatorial District by the office of the immediate past Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, CON.
“From the published positions, it is clear that the state government has misconceptions about the true picture of the processes involved in capturing and implementation of projects of this nature. For the purpose of clarity, we would wish to make the following clarifications to better the understanding of the masses and the ministry on the issue:
“1. That the distribution of the instructional materials is a constituency project facilitated by the immediate past Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki through the Universal Basic Education Commission UBEC, a commission constituted by law as an agency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to build and develop capacities of students in Basic Schools in the constituency.
“2. 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.
“3. 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 (Primary 1 – 6 and JSS 1 – 3) across the 4 LGs for capturing of schools with basic infrastructure and material needs and same was communicated to UBEC by Dr. Saraki’s office for implementation.
“4. 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.
“5. That on the standard of materials distributed, it pleases us to inform the ministry of Education that the materials are of the Universal Basic Education standards across the country, published by the Federal Government approved publishers such as RASMED Publishers Limited, BINANI publishing Limited, STRAIGHT GATE publisher Limited and others as they are in the UBEC database as approved publishers. So for ministry to say the items are “substandard” and need vetting would mean that the ministry is not aware of these processes undergone by the UBEC already or that the Ministry decided not to know to allow it dance to the tune dictated by the payer of the piper.
“6. On the emblazoned pictures on the instructional materials, it is to be noted that no picture was emblazoned by Senator Saraki or his mandate office on the distributed items. It is a standard used by MDAs for some projects of both the Executives and the Legislators, especially when it has to do with training equipments and material supplies. The pictures below show clear evidence of SDG project for PMB and UBEC project for ABS. If the state government has any unbiased issue with this, it is advisable that she communicates the UBEC and other MDAs involved on the need to change the approach.
“In conclusion, the state government has no substantial position to reject the items on a mere guess that Senator Saraki emboldened picture on the items without a deep consideration of the values this will add to the lives of the pupils and this is perceived by the masses as venting of unnecessary split on a perceived political rival which is unhealthy for our overall developments as a people.”