Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River State
By Muhammad Bello
Disturbed by the deplorable condition of education in the country, the National Economic Council (NEC) Thursday recommended the constitution of a stakeholders’ committee on education to be headed by Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River State.
This was the outcome of the NEC meeting presided over by Vice-President Namadi Sambo at the State House, Abuja, which also stated that the terminal date of the committee will be December at which time, the subsisting NEC meeting will be dedicated entirely to discussing its report.
Flanked by the Minister for National Planning, Dr Shamsuddeen Usman and the governors of Borno and Edo States, Kashim Shettima and Adams Oshiomhole respectively, Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State told journalists that the committee, which is expected to peruse the report by the committee on National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) assessment of Nigerian public universities, will also conduct a comprehensive assessment of the state of the education sector and make recommendations on how to move the sector forward.
Members of the committee are two governors each from the respective six geo-political zones. They are governors of Kwara, Benue, Anambra, Imo and Akwa Ibom States.
The remaining are those of Oyo, Ondo, Bauchi, Adamawa, Kaduna and Sokoto States.
Other members are NEC Secretary (National Planning Commission) and state Commissioners for Education.
Senator Atiku Abubakar Bagudu and Hon. Jerry Alagbaoso will represent the National Assembly.
Also to be represented on the committee are the Ministries of Education, FCT and Finance.
Similarly, the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETF) and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) will also be represented.
Earlier, the Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufa’i, had presented a paper on the challenges of access and quality in education in the country to the NEC.
She also presented a comprehensive report by the Committee on Needs Assessment of Nigerian Public Universities.
Both documents focus on the deplorable condition of education at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels respectively.
They also detailed the dearth of schools infrastructure, increasing number of out-of-school (OOS) children across the country, inadequate capacity of teaching staff and discouraging state of learning.
The NEC also considered a presentation by the National Planning Minister, Usman, on the framework for the development of a 30-year National Integrated Infrastructure Masterplan (NIIM).
The NIIM, which will span the period between 2014-2043, has its objectives as: coordination of approach to physical infrastructure for sustainable development, strengthening of linkages between infrastructure sectors and the national economy and harmonisation as well as integration of various infrastructure plans.
It is also to prioritise projects and programmes, promote private sector participation, strengthen the policy, legal, regulatory and institutional frameworks and enhance performance and efficiency of the economy.
The council welcomed the methodology of constituting the Technical Working Groups (TWGs) and a participatory approach with a broad spectrum of stakeholders towards delivering the plan as proposed by the minister.
Membership of the TWGs include public sector (institutions and individuals), representatives of relevant committees of the National Assembly, states representatives, private sector, professional bodies, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), development partners, development financing institutions, individual sector experts and labour unions.
Similarly, the Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, made a brief presentation on co-ordinated broadband infrastructure for the country to enhance e-governance and e-commerce across Nigeria.
The council welcomed the proposal and directed her to make a full presentation on the topic at the next meeting.
The council also commended the efforts being made by the Federal Government to help reinvigorate the embattled aviation industry.
This includes the plan to support the airlines by providing the guarantees to enable them boost their fleet by purchasing new or serviceable aircraft.