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N8,000 Palliative Not Enough To Cushion Effect Of Subsidy Removal — Obi

•says Nigeria's 20 million out-of-school children alarming

•calls for more investment in education

The Presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the 2023 general election, Peter Obi has criticised the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led administration for approval of N8,000 as palliative about 12 million households over the period of six months to ameliorate the hardships faced by Nigerians as a result of subsidy removal.
Obi who spoke on Saturday at the graduation of the Class of 2023, Pacesetters Schools, Abuja, said almost every family in Nigeria are vulnerable and are feeling the pains of the fuel subsidy removal, including teachers who are poorly paid and a lot of them being owed for months in some states.

He stressed that N8000 to 12 million households was not enough to cushion the effect of the fuel subsidy removal, insisting that almost every parent need the money across the because of the level of poverty in the nation.

He said: “I was telling my people to find a way how to enrol for this N8,000 because almost everyone needs it; both parents and teachers need the 8,000.”

While speaking on the importance of education in any nation, Obi described as alarming the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) report that more than 20 million school-age children in Nigeria are out of school, saying there was no way there could be meaningful development when such huge number of children have no access to education.

“If you follow the 2022 World population of counties we are talking about the population of Norway, Ireland, Singapore and Dubai put together that is out of school in Nigeria. When you put together the population of these four successful countries together, it will be over 19 million and we have 20 million out of school. So, we have the population of the four thriving, successful, developed countries put together that out of school in Nigeria, so how can you talk about development in the future? So, investment in education is critical,” he said.

Obi noted that various studies have indicated the human development index, health, education and per capita income, education is about all three because health is about education.

According to him, a nation could not have a healthy society without educated people and there was no way to take people out of poverty without education.

The former Governor of Anambra state said poverty is largely responsible for the challenge of insecurity being witnessed in the country today, saying the more people are put out of poverty, the more criminality is reduced “and you can’t do that unless you invest in education.”

Obi observed that the more people are educated, the more they are able to put themselves out of poverty, stressing that there was the need for the government to invest in private schools as in the public, arguing that the children in private schools are Nigerian children.

“Nigeria is a country that says, we have Universal basic education. What this means is that we have the budget for each child and that budget what you do is that, if Pacesetters is a private school, you will make sure that you give Pacesetters the budget we have for each child so that parents can add more; that is how to implement it.

“As a governor of Anambra State, I didn’t really know the difference between the children in public schools and private schools because the children are not private. When people talk about private schools, I say well, it does not matter to me when I am supplying computers to public schools, I gave to private schools as well.

“For me, if I have the opportunity, education will have the highest amount in our budget; that is key and teachers will be celebrated,” he said.

He noted that the most critical component of education is the teacher, saying they are the ones that teach and mould the character of children.

On national honour awards, Obi said it was unfortunate that instead of recognising diligent and hard-working teachers across the country, the Nigerian government confers national honour awards on those who stole from the country and are not even supposed to be part of the country.

While thanking the teachers for the great role they are playing in nation-building, Obi urged them not to be discouraged that they were being recognised, adding this what they are doing was noble and important for the society just as they are one important aspect of the society.

He charged the graduating students to always maintain good character, discipline, be truthful and do the right thing, saying education was what they need to succeed.

He also urged them not to follow the footsteps of bad people, noting that in Nigeria it was easy to say that only bad people succeed, which he added was a wrong notion.

While making a veiled statement, Obi said those of the graduating students aspiring for leadership in the future should know their classmates and keep the certificates properly, so that once they come out people should be able to recognise them and celebrate them.

He said: “In Nigeria, You will not be a leader and unless you attended a school, unless you know your classmates, unless you have a good certificate. When you say, I went to Pacesetters, people can say yes, was in the same class with the person and you will be celebrated”.

He commended the parents who struggle to put their children in schools, saying he was aware of the difficulties a lot of parents face to pay school fees and other commitments for children to be in school. He, however, assured the parents that their investment would not be in vain.

Chairman, Pacesetters Schools, Abuja, Barr Kenneth Imansuangbon, on his part charged the graduating students to be good ambassadors of the school, saying the school has given training and moulded them to be of good character.

Imansuangbon said: “We have trained them well. They should go out and represent the country as ambassadors, they are the future of Nigeria.

“Nigeria needs change and I believe the training they have received puts them in a better position to represent this country because they are the future of Nigeria,” he said.

Emir of Dutse, Alhaji Muhammad Hameen Nuhu Sunusi, on his part, lamented the declining standards of education because of poor investment in the sector across all levels.

He, however, commended Imansuangbon, for his investment in education, noting that he would be a good governor in Edo state if elected by his people, especially in the area of transformation of education in the state.

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