- Students’ verification exercise takes off
Amby Uneze in Owerri
Even though Imo State Government has finally dropped non-indigenes in its state owned tertiary institutions from its free education programme for the non-reciprocal attitude of their states governments to Imo indigenes in their respective states, the current recession experienced in the country is also part of the reason to stop the programme.
However, government has also mandated the Secretary of the State Government (SSG), George Etche, to proceed with the verification exercise of students in the state tertiary institutions with the aim of making sure that bonafide indigenes of the state are identified to enable them continue to “enjoy the free education programme that has become not only a success story but somewhat a revolution.”
The state government, through the Chief Press Secretary to the state governor, Sam Onwuemeodo, said: “For more than five years the free education programme has been on, non-indigenes have been benefitting from the lofty gesture without indigenes of Imo State enjoying same programme in other states, schools.
“To also ensure that the verification venture is thorough, forms are being issued to the students which the traditional rulers of their various autonomous communities and State Development Coordinators (SDC) of their respective wards would sign.
“In the past five years, the state government has spent over N40 billion to prosecute the free education programme which the opposition never believed was possible. But the huge success the programme has recorded has also made the ‘Doubting Thomas’ to swallow their words.”
He said the free education programme in the state made students’ enrolment to rise from 280,000 in 2011 to over 800,000, maintaining that the outcome of the free education policy of the state government was wonderful as the Registrar/CEO of JAMB, Professor Ishaq Oloyede, recently disclosed that for six consecutive years, Imo State continued to lead in JAMB applications and admissions with Delta State maintaining the second position. “And the registrar concluded that the state free education programme was the reason behind the feat,” he stated.