Ludwig Wittgenstein, a German 20th Century Philosopher conceived philosophy as the bewitchment of our intellect by the use of language. This linguistic perceptiveness is fundamental in any definition, planning or focal project by any progressive-minded administrator. When terms and concepts are defined, directedness is certain, a certainty that assures smooth sail of programmes, that saves the head of the project of psychological, social and financial encumbrances. This very linguistic perceptiveness and its consequent directedness are lacked perpetually in governor Okorocha’s “Free Education” or “scholarship award”.
According to the National Policy on Education (2004:61), education is an expensive social service, which requires adequate financial provision from all tiers of government for successful implementation of the educational programmes. Consequently, education is not free; and it has become abundantly clear that Government source alone cannot meet the country’s educational needs. This insufficiency of Government’s source in funding education necessitates the exploitation of other avenues for generating school funds, as well as embarking on cost saving devices be followed by prudent management.
Education is not free; it is an expensive social service; which can never be free in any human society, even in communist ones. By free, one understands – “Costing nothing” (it costs you nothing), or without payment. Education will cost you time, stress, leisure, disponibility (availability) finance, mental energy, etc. Tuition free or free tuition fees, means paying no money in order to be taught in a college or University. This second conception is more precise than free education. By this, one understands that school fees will not be paid by a student, and it is different from free education. On the other hand, scholarship means an amount of money given to a student by an organization (an institution, agency or individual) for his or her education. Here, scholarship entails cash given to a scholar for scholarly financial exigencies, which may include fees, accommodation, instructional media and aids, etc. This conception is also different from Tuition free subsidy, which entails monetary assistance for students by a Government or an organization to help pay or reduce the payment (or costs of education). For nearly one year, Okorocha has lived in this conceptual disillusion, inter-changing free-education with Tuition free, scholarship and tuition fees subsidy. Based on this directionlessness, his perhaps good-intentioned vision became blurred while the illusive impression he created to Imolites turns to reality that hounds ideation and fantasy.
In the glorious free education for Imo State, he launched daily stipends for pupils in Primary and students in Secondary Schools. This happened sporadically in selected Urban and Semi-Urban Schools for couple of days and he became the Jewish god that spoke one and became Deus Otiosus. Even in the execution his men went to the 27 Local Government Areas and only picked one most populated and one lowly populated schools as samples that were generalized as entire Imo Schools. Ruses were made about paying certain amount of money (last year ending) as scholarship for pupils in Primary schools and the teachers being paid therein, etc. Feasibility is the problem fantasy has. The Deus Absconditus (the Absent God) reappeared during his 50th Birthday Anniversary and promised instantly distribution of School uniforms to all Imo Secondary students. Though erstwhile, he has promised free sandals, school bags, uniform, books etc for students, which are still on the pipe. The birthday Sky-Blue Imo –Rescue-Mission, tagged Uniform went to few schools in Owerri, Orlu, and Okigwe. In Ikenegbu Girls, (for instance) that has one of the greatest population, not all the students received it. But even if any student in Imo State gets it, how can those students be identified when every students/school wears same uniform? There is no good sense in this. Here Okorocha allowed his “kindergarten learning processes” in the school of public administration to interfere with his education.
The higher Institution is no go area. He declared free education for IMSU and Imo Poly Students, and later turned to Scholarship. From the stated scholarship, hardship entered. Students are still paying school fees and heavily, while rumours go that their scholarship cheques are at the Orlu, Owerri and Okigwe Senatorial Headquarters, where the Zonal Chairman of the Traditional Rulers will give each Community’s Traditional Ruler cheques of his citizens who are beneficiaries. Is this scholarship? Even, the Part-time Students of Imo State’s in the State Higher Institutions are faced with the double anguish of possible closure of Part-Time and the Government’s declared fees increment to N120,000.00, which would commence soonest. Rumours also go that students in Imo State University have finalized plans to sue the Government to court. One wanders what is going on between Governor Okorocha and his “My people, My people project”.
It is doubtful how an administration will give Imolites regular students free education and take triple the tuition-free fees from Imolites Part Time Students. This is the mermaid gift, giving with one hand and taking with the other. It was also gathered that on Friday 30th November, 2012, flood victims in Ohaji/Egbema, Oguta LGAs protested against Gov. Okorocha’s intention to use the N400, 000,000.00 Federal Government gave then as relief item to build roads in the state. He turned overnight, with the Committee he set, to use the money to fumigate the areas (in this dry season when mosquitoes have gone) and build town halls and bore holes for displaced and farm – products maimed victims. An angry man amongst the invitees in the Nigerian Medical Association hall, along Port Harcourt Road (the venue of the 30th November meeting) funnily asked why there was no fumigation when mosquitoes feasted on them and now they are gone, fumigation came. Another asked whether he will fumigate only the river side or use helicopter to fumigate the entire two L.G.As what of ecological disorder that follows?
In fact, Okorocha’s administration is likened to the African folk tale on the Snake, the Farmer and the Heron. According to the tale, a Snake chased by hunters asked a Farmer to save his life. To hide it from its pursuers, the farmer squatted and let the snake crawl into his belly. But when the danger has passed, and the farmer asked the Snake to come out, the Snake refused. It was warm and safe inside. On his way home, the man saw a heron and went up to him and whispered what has happened. The Heron told him to Squat and strain to eject the snake. When the Snake snuck its head out, the heron caught it, pulled it out and killed it. The Farmer was worried that the Snake’s poison might still be inside him, and the heron told him that the cure for snake poison was to cook and eat six white fowls. “You’re a white fowl” said the Farmer. “You’ll do for a start”. He grabbed the heron, put it in a bag, and carried it home, where he hung it up while he told his wife what had happened. “I’m surprised at you” said the wife. “The bird does you a kindness, rids you off the evil in your belly, saves your life in fact, yet you catch it and talk of killing it”. She immediately released the heron, and it flew away. But on its way, it gouged out her eyes.