Speaker of the House of the Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has pledged to sponsor a bill in the House for the takeover of unity schools by their board of trustees to address decay in the sector.
Gbajabiamila gave the assurance at the 112th Founders Lecture of Kings’ College Old Boys Association (KCOBA), at the weekend, with the theme, “Unity in Diversity… Stronger Together.”
The pledge followed a request by KCOBA President, Alhaji Kashim Ibrahim-Imam, for government to hand over unity schools to their boards of trustees for effective management and restoration of the falling standard of education, using Kings College and Queens College as a test case.
Ibrahim-Imam lamented the degrading state of affairs in unity schools, stressing that government has no business in the management of unity schools.
He urged the Speaker to utilise his acumen to mobilise his colleagues to pass the bill to ensure that boards of trustees take over total management of the schools using the Public Private Participation (PPP) model.
Meanwhile, Chairman of 2021 Kingsweek committee, Chuma Anosike, said the association had set up two endowment funds, the Floreat Fund and the KC Education Trust Fund, both of which are poised to ensure a proper and sustainable funding structure, for the college under the proposed PPP.
In his response, Gbajabiamila promised to sponsor the bill in the best interest of the country. He gave the assurance that the National Assembly would deliver a constitution that would hold institutions of state to account and put an end to the debilitating conflicts that continue to tear the nation apart.
According to the Speaker, Nigeria was created from the forced union of tribes and peoples without consideration for the complex cultures and histories of the communities and kingdoms that made up the union to serve the interests of colonial masters.
However, he said Nigerians have the power to write a new chapter of peace and prosperity, justice and equity for the country and give every Nigerian a sense of belonging.
He said ‘until it is clear to all that the continued existence of Nigeria guarantees them certain inalienable rights, there would not be unreserved commitment to the Nigeria project’.
The Speaker said Nigeria’s “unity is incumbent on our ability to do three things and do them well. The first is to ensure that the government respects, protects and guarantees the fundamental rights of all citizens, without exception.”
According to him, while citizens of other countries are willing to die for their countries, Nigerians have changed the phrase to ‘I cannot die for my country.’
In his remarks, former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, said the country could not stay united unless there is equity and justice
According to him, Nigeria has about 250 ethnic groups, which is far below that of India with over 2,000 ethnic groups and Indonesia with 1,300 ethnic groups, yet, both countries are doing far better than Nigeria.
In his contribution, former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Malam Nuhu Ribadu, who said that everyone needed to keep the country united, urged Nigerians to avoid what happened in Rwanda and Somalia but rather emulate Tanzania, which he said, is one of the peaceful countries in Africa. He also implored Nigerians to participate in politics to make necessary change.