In Osun state, it’s no longer at ease with the frosty relationship between Gov Oyetola and his predecessor, Rauf Aregbesola, over education policies. Writes LATEEF DADA.
The education sector in Osun state is set to witness a turn- around particularly when the new academic session would begin as Governor Gboyega Oyetola finally reversed his predecessor’s policy of 4-5-3-4 back to the earlier 6-3-3-4 and setting aside the single uniform policy including statuses of schools. Oyetola said the girls’ school merged with boys by his predecessor should be reversed and schools that were hitherto known as primary school/grammar school but later changed should have their status restored.
Announcing the reversalSpeaking at a press conference jointly addressed by commissioners for information and civic orientation and her counterpart in education, Mrs Funke Egbemode and Mr Olayinka Oladoyin Folorunsho, respectively on March 2, 2020, Egbemode explained that the decisions were reached after an exhaustive deliberation on the report of the education panel set up to review some of the extant policies. She said, “The council approved the recommendations to revert to the 6-3-34 structure in keeping with the provision of National Policy on Education as this would entail adequate physical and instructional facilities at all levels, adequate provision in quantity and quality of well-motivated teachers at all levels.
“The council agreed that the state government would do well to allow every school return to its old established and recognised public uniform.”Similarly, the council also approved the need for government to strengthen the technical and vocational education/training by upgrading structure and facilities of technical colleges for effective service delivery, while ‘Opon-Imo’ otherwise known as tablet of knowledge would be restructured to serve the purpose it was meant for.”Whether political or not as being insinuated in some quarters, the reactions that followed the reversal and calls by stakeholders even before the end of the last administration showed that the people rejected Aregbesola’s policies on education. Commending Oyetola for the reversal, a former NUJ chairman in the state, Bishop Seun Adeoye said, “We need to appreciate Governor Gboyega Oyetola for courageously reversing these education policies inherited from Aregbesola.”Maybe, if Aregbesola knew there would be ‘today’ yesterday, he may have reasoned with those who vehemently opposed his education policies. I can say it again that virtually all Aregbesola’s policies in other sectors are defective and that’s why you hardly see the impacts now. “Did you see the crisis which erupted in various public schools over same uniform? I remember when he was engaging in school reclassification and school merger how prominent Nigerians including former Lagos state governor, Alhaji Lateef Jakande intervened by telling him to refrain in changing names of schools but he refused to listen.” Meanwhile, crises in many schools have been attributed to the school uniform policy which made it difficult to identify some students that are going to another school to cause trouble. In its reaction to the recent clash between students of Baptist High School (Baptist Girls High School), Osogbo, and the teachers, a group, Dialogue 365, called on Governor Oyetola to quickly address the issue of same uniform that has made it difficult to identify students of different schools in the state. In a release signed by its convener, Comrade Waheed Saka, the group described the clash as unfortunate and uncalled for, saying the state government must as a matter of urgency introduce badge or any other symbol that would enable teachers to identify students of their schools easily. “It is highly unfortunate that our schools in Osun are prone to attack by ill-mannered students in recent time, therefore, turning these citadels of learning into citadels of violence. The blame that the incessant attack is a product of same school uniform is too basic in addressing moral decadence among students.
How it all startedIt was unconcealed that things have not been the same since the succession race started in 2018. Oyetola who was the Chief of Staff to Governor Aregbesola was apparently the candidate of Senator Bola Tinubu and this does not go well with Aregbesola who was said to have had intention to field a successor from the West Senatorial District thus sponsoring the Commissioner for Finance, Bola Oyebanji. When Oyetola discovered the plan by Aregbesola to go against Tinubu, he was said to have abused Aregbesola at a gathering, describing him as ‘ungrateful’.Also, there was a belief that Aregbesola did not work for Oyetola as expected during the electioneering campaign. When Oyetola eventually emerged, the composition of his cabinet and efforts by his predecessor to inject large number of his loyalists in the list, begin to tear them apart.
Oyetola boycotts Aregbesola’s programme
When Aregbesola was to be installed the Amirul Waziril Mumini of Osogbo, Oyetola reportedly travelled out of the country with his wife and was said to have instructed members of his cabinet not to attend the function. The crisis took another dimension when the chairman of Osogbo South local council development area, Hon Hakeem Olaoye, was impeached, apparently for his disobedience to the directive of the governor.
Thugs attack Oyetola, others
Also, the rift between the duo got messier on January 1, 2020 when Oyetola and some members of his cabinet were attacked by suspected thugs on New Year eve. The state government had organised a cross over party at Nelson Mandela Freedom Park when the thugs invaded the venue and started shooting guns, throwing stones in the direction of government functionaries. According to a source, the governor, his wife, Mrs Kafayat Oyetola, Chief of Staff, Dr Charles Akinola, secretary to the state government, Wole Oyebanji, APC state chairman, Gboyega Famoodun, among others were at the function. It was leant that the attack, which started around 1: 00am, took the intervention of State Security Service to rescue the governor and some of his cabinet. The source said the programme ended abruptly as people scampered for safety.
Oyetola, Aregbesola’s aides exchange words
Recently, the former commissioner for local government and chieftaincy affairs under Aregbesola, Kolapo Alimi, appeared on a radio programme with the chief press secretary to the governor, Ismail Omipidan, where the duo exchanged words over attempt to reverse Aregbesola’s policies. While Alimi posited that Aregbesola’s policies on education do not in any way dictate the poor performance of APC in the last election, Omipidan maintained that the refusal to listen to the people and insistence on same uniform affected the party in the election. According to Alimi, “We are not saying the policy shouldn’t be reviewed but in reviewing the policy, you have to take into consideration the reason for the introduction of the policy. “Policies of government are meant to achieve certain things at least the welfare of the people. Even while Aregbesola was there, we reviewed the policy on uniform. Initially, we introduced the use of Adire as the collar for the children at the elementary schools but after three years we discovered that it was fading out, during the last EXCO meeting, we had in the first tenure, we changed it to Khaki. “Before you take action on it, you have to look at the reason for introducing the policy. The main reason for the single uniform policy during our tenure is that the majority of our students are wearing tattered uniform and we corrected that by the introduction of a single uniform which is cheap and can be easily provided freely by the government. “In reaction, Omidipan said the governor would not shy away from taking any decision that would help the future of the children and the unborn in the state, saying “In any policy, there is what we call unintended consequences.
As at the time those decisions were taken, probably the state doesn’t take to cognisance the issue we now face in schools on security and indiscipline by the reason of the single uniform policy. Even with the single uniform, are pupils not still putting on tattered uniforms?” He said one of the demands of people during the ‘thank you’ visit embarked by Oyetola was the need to reverse the same school uniform. “Part of what was stated was the issue of a single uniform policy. So we arrive where we are today based on the demand of the people and every responsible government must ensure that its programmes and policies answer to the demands of its people. We receive security reports on daily bases on problems that a single uniform is causing.
Although, Chief Akande intervened by calling the duo of Aregbesola and Oyetola to his house, however, observation from the recent birthday of Akande clearly showed that it was not over between them. On January 16 when the APC chieftain celebrated his 81st birthday, Aregbesola and his counterpart in the Ministry of Information, Lai Muhammad, were there and waited for Oyetola only to hear that the governor had gone to Iwo to attend the commissioning of a tower constructed by the Oluwo of Iwo. After the duo of the ministers left, Oyetola came around 5pm.