Why Umahi Is Yet To Reduce Students Tuition Fees – Ifeanyi | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Why Umahi Is Yet To Reduce Students Tuition Fees – Ifeanyi

Posted: Sep 26, 2016 at 7:22 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Hon. Onwe Gideon Ifeanyi is the Special Adviser  to David Umahi, Ebonyi State governor, on Students Affairs. In this interview with CHIJIOKE AGWU, he speaks on the governor’s passion for improved and quality education, even as stresses the place of students in the administration, among other issues. Excerpts:

The state took 10th position out of 36 states and the federal Capital Territory (FCT) in this year’s West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSSCE). To many people of the state it is a good development while to some, the state is still far behind in education. What is your take on this?

It is only in the present administration that the state took this position. That we are 10th in the entire country in WAEC is a good feat because before now, we had no number, we were nowhere to be found. The governor is just a year and some months in office and he has turned things around in the education sector. Are you not happy that Ebonyi State is now coming up in the WAEC? In a country of 36 states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT), we are among the best 10. It shows we are doing well and in the next examination, we will move up to the best three. We have put everything in place to achieve this.
Presently, there is effective monitoring and supervision of all the schools in the state to ensure proper teaching and learning. Funds have also been mapped out in the education sector for total transformation of the sector. Modern desks have been constructed for students and pupils to ensure they feel comfortable and receive their studies. A lot of good things have happened in the education sector since the present administration came on board and we believe that in the next WAEC, we will come top.

During his electioneering campaign, Governor Umahi promised to reduce students’ tuition in the tertiary institutions. Since he came to power, this has not been done. Does that promise still stand?

The governor actually promised to look into students’ tuition fees during electioneering campaign. So far, the government has not reneged on the promise. The only thing is that you cannot just reduce fees without putting necessary things there for the betterment of the students. That is what the governor is doing. If you go to the state’s university, you will see light, water and other amenities provided by the governor for the students. He is also paying N200 million monthly subvention to the university. He is also doing other important  things for upliftment of the institution. There is no way school fees can just be reduced without first putting the necessary things on ground.  There has to be a procedure in reducing the school fees and I think it is what the governor is doing.

So, how is the relationship between the government and the students?

The relationship between the students and the government has been cordial. Gov Umahi is running an open government. It is a government you can channel your complaints to and receive immediate attention. So, all the tertiary institutions in the state are enjoying the administration and it has never been like this before in the history of the state. They are included in whatever the government is doing. To demonstrate that they are happy with this government, the students gave an award to the governor, his deputy and myself. They said they decided to thank him on the road he built for them. The governor completed a vital section of the Afikpo-Abakaliki federal road that was abandoned. The students out of joy, said they must appreciate the governor and later gave him the award. They said it used to take them two hours from Afikpo to Abakaliki when it was not completed. Now, they spend less than an hour to get to the capital city. Working as Special Adviser to the governor on Student Affairs has been so interesting because it has exposed me to young men who are coming up.

Governor Umahi has just appointed 191 aides designated as Senior Technical Assistants (STAs) and Technical Assistants (TAs) with chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Labour Party (LP) and the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) among them.  Political watchers believe that the action was meant to that he emerges a sole candidate in 2019. How do you see this assertion?

I don’t believe the appointment is connected with the 2019 elections. It is too early for anybody to talk about 2019 elections now. The appointments were done in good faith. The action was for the good of all Ebonyi people. The governor had on assumption of office said he would be governor for all. He has displayed that in both appointments and distribution of social amenities in parts of the state. He has been preaching that Ebony people are one. He has taught us how to play politics by carrying everybody along, both members of the opposition and his own party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Before now, if you are in the opposition or is opposed to the government in power, you would not come close to the government. But, Governor Umahi has changed that phenomenon and has extended hands of fellowship to all the opposition parties in the state, people who had once persecuted this government, people who worked against emergence of this government are now members of the State Executive Council (SEC). That they are in the cabinet, to me, is a good development. It is like the reunion of people of Ezza-Ezillo/Ezza communities in our dear state, whereby the governor brokered peace among them. We all knew what happened in the two communities. It was as if peace will not return to the area. It was as if the people will no longer do things together. But, you saw how the governor united them as a man of peace. That is what he just did in his entire administration. He brought everyone, irrespective of political affiliations into the government. He said that for the fact that they worked for another candidate during the general elections and against the PDP does not mean that they are not Ebonyi people.
Despite the economic challenges facing the country and the state, the governor has appointed these 191 new aides made up of members of the opposition parties and his own party, PDP. He wants everyone to have something doing and contribute to the development of the state. These types of appointments have never happened in the history of the state and people should be happy that it has happened. So, the appointments are not connected to 2019 elections.

Do you think these opposition parties will be happy over the appointments and will not challenge the governor and his party, PDP, during the 2019 elections?

I think they are comfortable with the style of Governor Umahi administration and have joined him to move the state forward. This is to show you that they accept the policies of the governor. They believe that this is our state and that we should collaborate to develop it. Our presence in politics today is to evolve polices that will alleviate poverty among the people and get Ebonyi State developed. These opposition party members are not self-seeking. They did not identify with the state government for material gains. They only offered themselves for the service of the state. This is because of the transformation drive of the state government which is manifested daily in the form of new roads, street lights, pipe borne water and provision of other social amenities for Ebonyi people.