Ademola Babalola in Ibadan
Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State on Tuesday begged the people of the state, admitting making three fundamental mistakes in the build up to the new education policy geared towards Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement to address the rot in the secondary school education system.
Explaining that leadership comes with responsibility and that since the buck stops on his table, he admitted the fault and face-off that have been trailing the idea which he described as ‘lofty’ when implemented.
For the sixth day running, the labour leaders have been engaging the state government in a serious faceoff which led to the arrest of seven of them and their subsequent detention for four days in Agodi prisons.
Angered by this development, the national leadership on Monday directed the state chapter to begin indefinite strike action to press home their demands for the payment of arrears of salaries owed the workforce and stoppage of the planned privatisation of the public education in the state among other sundry issues.
The governor, while speaking at the rescheduled stakeholders’ meeting held at the House of Chiefs, Parliamentary Building, Secretariat, Ibadan, said he took responsibility for whatever might have transpired and the misgivings that arose on the issue.
According to him, the government erred by not facilitating a pre-stakeholders’ meeting ahead of the enlarged meeting which was disrupted by the workers, stating he had expected the officials of the Ministry of Education to have addressed that.
He stated further that the proposed N250, 000 requested of individuals interested in partnering the government in running the schools was also done in error
To cap it, he said publishing the notice and calling on interested private partners in the media before inviting stakeholders for a meeting was a mistake.
While taking responsibility for all the errors and misgivings on the issue, he then asked for the forgiveness of all the stakeholders.
He said: “We made three mistakes instead of one that people think. The Ministry of Education has been one of the most supportive of our administration and we have allowed them run the system on their own. When we came to the point of inviting partners to run the school, we had thought that they would have called on stakeholders before the enlarged stakeholders meeting was fixed, but they didn’t do it and I also didn’t do it, so it was our mistake.”
While insisting that the government has never contemplated selling off any school, Ajimobi assured that his administration would not abdicate its responsibility of free and quality education for the people of the state.
Declaring their support for government’s intention and plan for education in the state, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi and Olubadan of Ibadanland Oba Saliu Adetunji, lauded the governor for coming up with the initiative as a way of rescuing education in the state from collapse.
They also called on education stakeholders not pleased with the government proposal to come up with better ways and ideas on how to move the sector forward through dialogue and consultation.
Other speakers at the event included the Eleruwa of Eruwa, Oba Samuel Adegbola, Bishop Joseph Ajetumobi, Bishop of Diocese of Ibadan North (Anglican Communion) and Chairman, Muslim Community in Oyo State, Alhaji Kunle Sanni.