Rivers State government has warned the Federal Government to drop its proposed plan to renovate and build some blocks of classrooms in some state-owned secondary schools in the state.
Minister of State for Education, Chief Nyesom Wike, had, last Friday, at Ogu, in Ogu/Bolo Local Government Area of the state, stated that the Federal Government would, in the next few months, intervene to uplift the physical structures of some schools in the state.
Wike, who spoke while laying the foundation stone for the construction of a federal junior model secondary school in the community, pledged to renovate and build additional blocks of classrooms at Birabi Memorial Secondary School, at Bori, Ogoniland; Community Secondary School, at Ubima, Governor Rotimi Amaechi’s hometown and St. Aquinas Secondary School, Elele, also in Ogoniland.
Reacting however, the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs Ibim Semenitari, admonished the junior minister to stay off Rivers State schools.
She said this while addressing a press briefing, in Port Harcourt, at the weekend, to herald the 2014 Native and Vogue International Fashion Week, scheduled to hold from Friday, September 19 to Sunday, September 21.
“We want to tell the Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike, that we don’t want any third-rated buildings or blocks of classrooms in our school premises in Rivers State. The Rivers State government is not interested in any white-wash buildings or performance in our schools.
“The minister has not done anything about the Federal Government Girls College in Aboloma that does not have a dinning hall; he has not done anything about the Federal Government College, Port Harcourt and he has not done anything about the University of Port Harcourt.
“Let him go and build the nomadic schools that they have not been able to complete. Let him go and attend to the nomadic schools that are falling apart. They have not been able to build schools for itinerant teachers.
“Wike should stop playing to the gallery; he should stop playing with the lives of Nigerian children and be focused in keeping our children in schools.
“Wike should be ashamed that Nigeria still has the highest record of out-of-school children; rather than do his job. He thinks this is the time to get a gubernatorial ticket based on lies. Of course, we as a government, want to warn Wike and his acolytes to stay away from the property of the government of Rivers State.
“We will not accept and we will not allow any stranger to deface or destroy our property because they are not going to complete the projects that they have started.
“We appealed to them to assist us in constructing the Bonny-Bordou Road, they refused to start it. But as soon as we worked out an arrangement with the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) to construct the road, the Federal Government told NLNG to stop and claimed that they will start it and awarded the contract. Until now, the people of Bonny cannot ply that road.”
“Rather, our people in Bonny are continually exposed to danger because we have a government that is uncaring; a government that does not listen even though the government is headed by a son from this part of the country.
“We have been careful in recent times not to join issues with the Federal Government because we have been focused on our paid jobs. We like to request the Federal Government to focus on its paid job.
“We have over 200 girls missing and Wike, as a father, should be concerned. But he has been unable to do his job as a minister to make sure the girls return to us.
“We, as a government, want to reiterate our commitment to our young people. We want to reassure our youths that we will not play with education. We operate over 350 model primary schools.
“We are building model schools with 20 classroom blocks; if the federal government wants to build model schools they should come and we will give them a model of what we do in Rivers State”, she said.
The commissioner maintained that the constitution grants the responsibility of primary and secondary schools to state governments.
She also dispelled reports that the state was indebted to the tune of N300 billion, maintaining that the state government had incurred debt amounting to N81 billion.
She disclosed that the state government sets aside N11 billion every month to service its debt profile, therefore, “we will not be leaving any debt for the incoming government.”
Semenitari explained that the frequent recourse to the state House of Assembly for loans through bonds in the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) was due to the resolve of Governor Amaechi to adhere to the dictates of the law that required fresh legislative approval for monies previously approved but not accessed during the legislative year while the House was in session.
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