RESCUE MISSION @ 2: The Good, Bad and Ugly



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I have always resisted the attempt to join the fray in assessing the administration of Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Anayo Ethelbert Okorocha (OON), since he was sworn-in as the State Chief executive on May 29th, 2011.
To avoid being a victim of premature permutations and misguided generalization; I opted to allow the Governor ample time to prove his worth. Having gone half of his four-year journey this week, I felt it was ripe to embark on half time assessment of the Rescue Mission government in Imo State.
In doing this, I will try to eschew partisan proclivity. I will rather be guided by my conscience as a social commentator and public analyst. For avoidance of doubts, my views stem from facts and reports available to me. Without fear of contradiction, this week’s Agwodinuju column is an independent-minded assessment that is subject to feed back mechanism.
One of the appendage names given to Okorocha, the Commander of Free Education, by most of his admirers is not a fluke. There is no need denying the fact that, the number of citizen of Imo State has changed the face of education. Okorocha’s love for education which began with the model Rochas Foundation Colleges scattered across the country has manifested in Imo State. In his belief that education is the bedrock of human development, Okorocha did not hide his intention to transform the sector. In giving prominence to education, Okorocha declared free education in the state. However, it is proper to state that the Federal Government’s Universal Basic Education UBE, program grants free education from Primary to JSS 3 of post primary. What the present administration added was from SSS 1 to SSS 3.
In the same vein, the Okorocha government has made provisions for the construction of proto-type classroom blocks in each Electoral Ward in the state. Contrary to the constant claims of the state government, what has appeared in some localities are skeletons of the proposed building whereas 80% of the INEC wards have not seen any block.
I however noticed that either the executioners of the project Roche Company or the state government gives attention to schools near major roads as checks within the hinterland or rural communities indicate that nothing is happening. With two more years to go, it may be difficult for the present administration to successfully achieve the dream of building the proposed classroom blocks in each electoral ward. I feel that this deficiency propelled the Imo Assembly to summon ROCHE for explanations on the slow pace of contract which the state lawmakers are yet to undertake and make public their findings.
Another challenging aspect of Okorocha’s free education is the provision of stipend to pupils and distribution of free school uniforms. For me, it is good idea but bad implementation. It is important to note that no where in the world, even in advanced clime and perfect economy where pupils are paid stipend for going to primary and post primary schools. If our dear Governor is not playing to the gallery and seeking cheap ovation, he would have known that the “stipend project” is counter productive and improper. A visit to most primary and secondary schools in the state especially at the remote areas where the bulk of the stipend-receiving students come from are in bad shape. The dilapidated state of the school buildings calls for rescue than stipend.
The Governor would have scored greater points the amount was used to repair leaking roofs, falling walls and decaying infrastructure. I was tasked by the headmistress of my alma mater to come to their rescue recently. The woman came begging that teaching and learning has become difficult in view of the classroom conditions which allows rain to disrupt classroom activities. Same scenario is observed in several places. Stipend-receiving pupils either learn in precarious conditions or have no classroom for academic exercise.
Pls bear with me. The column has to stop for lack of space, it will continue next week.