By Femi Ogbonnikan
Governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in Ogun State, Mr. Rotimi Paseda has anchored his vision to transform the state if he wins the 2019 governorship contest on the provision of free and compulsory education at all levels.
Stating his conviction, he said, “I got involved in politics, believing that education must be free at all levels. People would have a choice of being educated or not. The situation now is that they are being restricted, because they can’t afford it. Education must be accessible to all and sundry. The only way you can make it accessible is to make it free, so that everybody, regardless of who you are, can access it. It would now be a matter of choice. If you don’t want it, fine. If you want it, there will be no limitations. That is what I have been advocating for. I have done my research and I have realised that it can be done and it will be done. On the very first day of my swearing-in, I am going to declare education free.”
According to Paseda, the concern about the huge cost of embarking on such a financial and human capital intensive project should not be a deterrent. He explained, “I am talking of providing enabling platforms for the institutions to self-generate incomes by providing services for the local communities. The will help us with policy formulations, help us with research. If you are doing recreation or tourism in your community, you will have to be part of our tourism sector to be an income generating agency, because you are helping us to manage it. If you have mechanical engineering in your institution, there is no reason we cannot have an array of service stations within your university where students will be learning, and as well, providing services to the people. You can take your vehicles there, because there are diagnostics equipment there and you would know that you are getting the best.”
Paseda said he has perfected a system where educational institutions will self-generating and sustainable, therefore removing a lot of burden from the state. “It has been my dream. Career development training, welfare of educational staff which is very critical will be given priority. In those days, as a lecturer, you were entitled to car loan and it is no longer there. You will take loans from bank and you will pay back. Welfare is very terrible now. These are just the snippets of what I want to do. I intend to return all missionary schools, every single one, the Baptist, Anglican, Catholic, Methodist and the Muslim Schools. They must go back to the original owners. I will make sure that it is a law. I understand that the case is in court. The last governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel did a fantastic thing. He returned the missionary schools and a new governor came in to reverse it. That is one of the target points for me as governor. When we make a policy in the best interest of our people we will enact a law to back it.”