Organised Labour under the aegis of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, ASCSN, has raised the alarm over fresh moves to sell off the 110 Unity Colleges, commonly known as Federal Government Colleges, FGCs, across the country, advising those interested in running Secondary Schools to build their own.
ASCSN yesterday in a statement categorically insisted that the FGCs were not for sale warning those hoping to buy to keep off or risk unpleasant consequences, calling on urge the labour movement, monarchs, religious organizations, civil societies, Parents-Teachers Associations, Student Unions, leaders of thought, men, and women of good conscience in the country to unite against the renewed moves to privatise the schools 10 years after the first attempt was stalled.
In the statement by its Secretary-General, Joshua Apebo, ASCSN, lamented that more than 10 years after the Union stalled plans to sell the 110 FGCs, the collective wealth of millions of Nigerians to the privileged few, and the matter was rearing its ugly head again, saying “But in Nigeria, portfolio-carrying investors always connive with greedy politicians to be converting public companies and institutions into their private estates under the dubious Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model.
“We, therefore, urge the Trade Union Movement, Royal Fathers, Religious Organizations, Civil Society Groups, Parents-Teachers Associations, Student Unions, Leaders of thought, men and women of good conscience in the country to unite as they did more than ten years ago in order to prevent a situation where Federal Government Colleges will be sold to few parasitic individuals.
We recall that appalled by politics of ethnicity and bitterness which characterized the first Republic, the then Prime Minister, Sir Tafawa Balewa, in 1966 conceived and set up three Federal Government Colleges, one at Okposi (later moved to Enugu) for Eastern Region, another one in Warri for Western Region and the third one in Sokoto for Northern Region to be unifying institutions for Nigerian Children from all parts of the Country irrespective of their social status and tribes so that they would grow up as better citizens and see themselves as Nigerians having interacted closely with one another during their formative years.
“Once the schools are ceded to private entrepreneurs, they will become money-spinners and as such will be out of the reach of millions of Nigerian children whose parents and guardians would not afford exorbitant fees that would be imposed apart from the fact that thousands of teachers and other workers would be thrown into the oversaturated Labour market.
“Once education becomes a commodity only for the rich, it will be a violation of Section 18 of the 1999 Constitution as amended which stipulates, among other things, that Government shall direct its policies towards ensuring that there are equal and adequate educational opportunities at all levels.
“Indeed, Section 18 (3) provides that Government shall strive to eradicate illiteracy and shall therefore provide free, compulsory, and universal primary education; free secondary education; free university education; and free adult literacy programme.