Ahead of the 2017 Wole Soyinka Media Lecture Series planned to examine the nexus between basic education and electricity, participants at a two-day stakeholdersâ€™ meeting held in Lagos recently for the Regulatorsâ€™ Monitoring Programme (REMOP) for basic education and electricity, have expressed grave concern about a potential development disaster if regulation and performance continue to slide in these important sectors.
The Coordinator of Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ), MotunrayoAlaka, who explained the vision behind REMOP to the participants, added that, â€œthe change we seek is the change we need; therefore, it is important that all concerned put pressure on the current government to deliver on its promise.â€
On the issue of power supply, there was a consensus among the participants that though the regulatory framework for the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) makes the body very powerful, the system is yet to work.
According to the President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Frank Jacobs, the challenges bedeviling NERC have made electricity more expensive for manufacturers who spend 40 per cent of their cost of production on power supply.
He said the huge spending on power supply by manufacturers in Nigeria was higher than that of Ghana, where manufacturers deploy about 20 per cent and those in China and Europe who spend less than 10 per cent on power supply.
Executive Secretary of the Association of Power Generation Companies (APGC), Joy Ogaji, blamed the inconsistencies in the sector on the clear lack of coordination.
Ogaji argued that the various government authorities are compromising the independence of NERC. In his contribution, the Chairman of the Network of Electricity Consumers Advocacy of Nigeria (NECAN), TomiAkingbogun, noted the damage poor power supply had inflicted on the Nigeriand with huge cost of tariffs, despite the unavailability of electricity.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), AzuObiaya, on the other hand, charged the participants to reflect on the humongous cost of investment that can guarantee electric power supply.
â€œRisk is assigned where it is best borne. The consistency we hope to achieve in the sector will cost money. Someone has to pay. There is a need for Nigeria to decide whether it wants to keep electricity as a social service or fully privatise it,â€ Obiaya said.
The Stakeholdersâ€™ meeting on basic education and electricity is a major part of the REMOP initiative supported by the MacArthur Foundation, which seeks to foster proactive disclosure of information, transparency and accountability among regulatory institutions in Nigeria through the active engagement of the media and other actors.
The participants were also alarmed that the education sector is grappling with a myriad of challenges, including the embarrassing 8.7million children who are out of school, according to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics reports.
The President of National Parent Teachers Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN), HarunaDanjuma, highlighted the fact that the figure is one of the highest globally.
Also speaking on the sad state of basic education in Nigeria, the Registrar of Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), Olusegun Ajiboye, stated that there is a need to pay attention to the quality of teachers.
On her part, the Deputy Executive Secretary (Technical) of UBEC, Sharon Oriero-Oviemuno-Olise, who represented the Minister of Education, AdamuAdamu and the Executive Secretary of UBEC, Hamid Bobboyi, blamed the poor performance status on the lack of commitment by state governments to contribute the mandatory counterpart funds needed to enable them access grants from the Commission.
Secretary to the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) Lagos State, AbosedeAdelaja, who represented the Deputy Governor, IdiatAdebule and the Chairman of SUBEB, GaniyuSopeyin, however, said Lagos State continued to lead the in ensuring standard education.
Despite the huge investments on basic education, OlatundeAdekola of the World Bank, who was represented by Solomon Adebayo, pointed out that the Universal Basic Education Commissionâ€™s (UBEC) is yet to make significant improvement in the drive to offer quality education to the 44 percent of its population who fall under the age of 15.