THE EXPLOITS OF CHIEF DAVID NWEZE UMAHI, EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR IN THE BASIC EDUCATION SECTOR OF THE STATE
Divine providence played prominence on 29th May, 2015 when His Excellency, Chief Engr David Nweze Umahi, FNSE, FNATE took the saddle of Ebonyi State-Salt of the Nation as the third democratically elected Executive Governor amid wide jubilation and appreciation to God Almighty.
His Excellency, Chief Engr. David Umahi came with a mission and vision anchored on a virile divine mandate. It is a mandate to truncate the arsenal of marginalization, under development and servitude of Ebonyi State and its people for decades. He came with a divine mandate to unravel a blue print of uncommon, unequalled and classical investiture and embellishment of the state of art projects, formidable humanitarian oriented programmes and policies across all segments of Ebonyi State.
Unarguably, all spheres of the state economy such as education, commerce and industry, health, agriculture, civil service, infrastructure, facilities, etc. were moribund and in total decay before his inauguration in office.
Governor Umahi, on assumption of office adopted multi-faceted approach to upgrade, redesign and transform all these areas into scintillating virile edifices and goal oriented platforms of the international acclaim.
In practice, he embarked on the construction and rehabilitation of monumental and supersonic flyover head bridges, urban and rural road networks, electrification projects in the urban and rural areas, general hospitals across the state, water fountains, etc he assigned value to empowerment of youths, widows, agricultural revolutions, peaceful resolution of communal crises and holistic development of the education industry of the state.
Indeed, Governor Umahi’s credentials clearly attest to his ordination as a trail-blazer, transformer, visionary leader, philanthropist and professor of infrastructural development of Ebonyi State. He has continued to preserve his oath of office, strengthen his passion for quality in consonance with his virtues of creativity, prowess and commitment to duty.
Further to his resolve to effect proper coordination and administration of the state, the Governor inaugurated renowned technocrats and bureaucrats into the state government ministries, agencies and parastatals. These set-ups are revolutionary trends and ignition to roll the pedestals of rapid development of the state economy into productivity, guided by his innate quest for probity, accountability and dynamism.
His Excellency began to toe the path of reconstruction to stem the tide of decayed infrastructure and facilities in government institutions, dearth of essential equipment and tools for humanitarian services in government owned general hospitals, apathy in maintenance of government facilities, diversion of government revenues into personal coffers, insecurity of lives among other vices in the state.
REVOLUTIONS IN THE BASIC EDUCATION SYSTEM:
Governor David Umahi is a versatile administrator of international repute. He had to transverse frontiers to establish institutionalized frameworks for actualization of his divine mandate in governance, extending the same to the basic education system of Ebonyi State divergently.
First, he appointed and inaugurated the management of Ebonyi State Universal Basic Education Board, Abakailki on Wednesday, 1st July, 2015, barely two months of assumption of office, with High Chief Hyacinth E. Ikpor (KSJI) as its Executive Chairman. He equally approved the appointment of Education Secretaries to complement the efforts of the Board in the management of basic education across the 13-Local Government Councils in Ebonyi State.
Assuming the tasks of his new office, High Chief Hyacinth Ikpor, being the 8th Executive Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board encapsulated the concepts and directional tutelage of His Excellency, Chief Engr. David Nweze Umahi to initiate policies that would drive the wheel of progress in the basic education sub-sector.
He quickly directed the pace that facilitated the completion of the evaluation of all secondary and primary schools in the state, an exercise he inherited from his predecessor in 2015. A data generated from the survey of the schools in the state, regarding enrolment of students and pupils, conditions of infrastructure in schools, staff strength-teaching and non-teaching, survey plans of schools, state of educational materials, etc. were collated and submitted to His Excellency in both hard and soft copies.
The report of that exercise provided a guide to the state government, thus acting as a catalyst towards proper planning, supervision, management and development of schools.
STATE GOVERNMENT/UNIVERSAL BASIC EDUCATION COMMISSION PARTNERSHIP
Guided by the compass of collective bargaining, consultation, dedication and bravery in tandem with the paraphernalia of his office, Chief Ikpor and his vision bearers took inventory of backlog of arrears of un-accessed Universal Basic Education Commission intervention funds meant for basic education projects in Ebonyi State.
These funds spanned through 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 respectively. A comprehensive report on them were made and submitted to His Excellency for his perusal, information and necessary action. The funds were crucial in rewriting the inglorious status of basic education schools, occasioned by high spate dilapidation, inadequate classroom accommodation, lack of school furniture-desks, tables, chairs, insufficient educational materials and equipment for laboratories/libraries in schools, and lack of capacity building programmes for teachers.
It is pertinent to assert that His Excellency, being a renowned entrepreneur, creative thinker and pace-setter of developmental strides carefully examined the records of the partnership, which hitherto existed between the State Government and the Universal Basic Education Commission, Abuja.
His Excellency reappraised the efforts and commitment of this agency, evaluated the relevance of UBEC intervention in the basic education sub-sector of Ebonyi State, and went ahead to re-establish and reinforce the State Government/UBEC partnership policy for optimal realization of the tenets of basic education programme in the state.
Translating his findings into concrete action, he sourced for fund, and released a whooping sum of N4b that enabled the State Universal Basic Education Board to pay the state government counter-part fund for UBEC projects.
Interestingly, action plans showing the projects and programmes to be executed as prepared by the project unit of the Board were hurriedly approved by UBEC, and followed by the release of the agency’s (UBEC) counter-part fund, thus launching the execution of all necessary basic education based projects in primary and junior secondary schools.
Dynamism, foresight and magnanimity of the State Governor, Chief Engr. David Nweze Umahi triggered the restoration of relationship between the State Government and the UBEC, Abuja.
Within the period under review, 291 modern school blocks were renovated and constructed across Ebonyi State. 3,697 desks, tables and chairs were produced, 400 computer sets for E-library, 8,400 sport wears and facilities, 3,333 magic white boards, 316,000 copies of school curriculum on different subjects were provided to basic schools.
Equally, 10 motorized bore-holes with overhead tanks were drilled in schools. In the same vein, 10 mission schools were perfectly rehabilitated, while 10 model primary and junior secondary schools were established with 10 selected schools receiving a facelift in perimeter fencing.
In addition, assorted number of science equipment and other educational materials in their innumerable quantities were procured and distributed to primary and junior secondary schools in the state. With these adorable investiture in the basic education schools, teaching and learning thrived while conducive environment provided the antidote that ensured the retention and enhanced enrolment of pupils and students in the Ebonyi basic education system.
Concerned with the welfare of the operators of the basic education system, Governor Umahi graciously approved, directed and established a policy for payment of teachers’ salaries on or before the 20th of every month. The Board has ensured the sustenance of this policy directive of the state governor as statutorily required.
On the other hand, promotions of teaching and non-teaching staff of the basic education sector have been regularly implemented. On the Governor’s directive, the arrears of 2016, 2017 and 2018 promotions of the Board’s staff including the teachers’ were released, implemented with its financial benefits paid to all the beneficiaries across the state, attesting to the fact that the State Government and the State Universal Basic Education Board hold the interest and welfare of its workforce paramount.
THE BOARD AND ITS ORGANS OF OPERATION
Pertinently, the High Chief Hyacinth Ikpor led Board within the period under review embraced its assignment with vigor, cohesion and determination toward advancing the course of the basic education programme in Ebonyi State meaningfully.
Since his inception in office, High Chief Ikpor has sustained regular meetings with education secretaries, and adopted measures to streamline the activities of the Board at the zonal offices and local government education authorities.
As an ardent follower of the remarkable footprints of the State Governor, the State Universal Basic Education Board further harnessed strategies at its disposal to ensure effective monitoring, supervision of schools and teachers as well as enhance teaching and learning. Education materials, like textbooks, curriculum, science equipment/kits were supplied to schools with laboratories and libraries properly equipped to ease learning. The Board has continued to monitor the usage of these essential education materials and facilities by the teachers, pupils and students. This measure served as a panacea for improved quality of academic activities in the primary and junior secondary schools in Ebonyi State.
The commitment and the forthright posture of the Board, its supervisory outfits and departments have enabled the redirection accorded the course of basic education programme across the state.
ADMINISTRATIVE SET-UP IN THE BOARD
In 2016, the management of the State Universal Basic Education Board resolved to down size the number of departments at the Board’s headquarters from nine (9) to six (6). The decision was in demonstration of the administrative indemnity of Chief Hyacinth Ikpor led Board to ensure proper coherence, convenience in management, organization, supervision and clear direction of the affairs of the system under its surveillance.
The existing departments in the Board are as follows:
1. Administration and Supply
2. Finance and Accounts
3. Academic Services
4. Social Mobilization
5. Planning, Research and Statistics
6. Quality Assurance and Junior Secondary School.
Undoubtedly, basic education has thrived significantly in Ebonyi State under the administration of Chief Hyacinth Ikpor led Board. Indices across the primary and junior secondary schools in the state attest to holistic academic renaissance occasioned by modern classroom blocks, facilities, instructional materials, and furniture solely provided by His Excellency, Chief Engr. David Nweze Umahi, the Executive Governor.
A GLANCE AT THE FEATS OF EBONYI STATE UNIVERSAL BASIC EDUCATION BOARD UNDER THE ADMINISTRATION OF CHIEF ENGR. DAVID NWEZE UMAHI
Globally, education is adjudged a formidable force for socio-cultural, economic and political transformation of the society.
Prominently, education broadens the frontiers of the society for human empowerment, creativity, skills acquisition, job/health creation and child development.
Interestingly, only visionary leaders and education lovers who have the reservoir of experience to adequately harness and channel available resources toward the development of the education industry can undertake to invest into the sector.
In Ebonyi State, His Excellency, Chief Engr. David Nweze Umahi, being a resourceful manager has decisively conceived, evaluated and implemented ideas, policies and programmes that strengthened the goals of education sub-sector in the state. He has made enormous sacrifices, commitment, defied oppositions, challenges and formed a formidable force that gave birth to the feats actualized in the basic education system of Ebonyi State. He enacted the legacies which Ebonyi SUBEB has dutifully followed toward policy conception, project formulation and execution as herein listed.
1. CREATIVITY AND COOPERATION:
The Ebonyi State Universal Basic Education Board wields the technical know-how to consistently woo meaningful developmental agencies into the development of basic education in Ebonyi State. Cooperation with the State Ministry of Education, State Secondary Education and the local government education authorities provided the platform for various laudable interventions in the system. It is gratifying to assert that some development agencies like NTI, UNICEF, World Bank and UBEC have made meaningful contributions towards capacity building of teachers, renovation and construction of school blocks, provision of furniture and other educational materials to basic education schools in partnership with the state government to consolidate the dividends of the free education programme in Ebonyi State.
2. GOVERNMENT SUPPORT/ASSISTANCE:
Between 2015 and date, the State Governor released over N4b to the State Universal Basic Education Board to defray the arrears of five (5) years un-accessed UBEB intervention funds meant for school projects in Ebonyi State. With this gesture, model primary and junior secondary schools have been established, dilapidated school blocks renovated, new classroom blocks constructed, school furniture, and instructional materials procured and distributed to schools to boost academic activities as outlined in this compendium.
3. ENHANCEMENT OF STAFF WELFARE:
Under the watch of His Excellency, the Executive Governor, the management of the basic education sub-sector strived to prioritize the welfare of teachers and non-teaching staff in its employ. It ensured prompt release of staff promotions, conversions, paid salaries and allowances of its workforce in strict compliance with the state governor’s directive in this regard. This step has greatly reactivated the morale of the Board’s staff in the field and offices for optimal productivity and commitment to service delivery.
4. CONCEPTION AND IMPLEMENTATION OF MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN EBONYI STATE UNIVERSAL BASIC EDUCATION BOARD AND EBONYI BROADCASTING COOPERATION, (EBBC) SALT FM/TV
Understanding the relevance of the mass media as a veritable tool for the dissemination of the Board’s programmes and activities, the Ebonyi SUBEB boss, Chief Hyacinth Ikpor entered into a memorandum of understanding in 2017 with EBBC, Abakaliki.
The MOU provided the platform for the chairman of the Board to roll out the activities in respect of the basic education programme, sensitize the public on the need to support the education policy of the state government.
The 30 minutes programme on EBBC Salt FM/TV has opened the corridors of meaningful contributions toward the education agenda of the state governor for the development of Ebonyi children.
Furthermore the programme has contributed immensely in bringing the activities of the Board to the grassroots.
5. MANAGEMENT PROWESS FOR EFFECTIVE SUPERVISION OF BASIC EDUCATION SCHOOLS:
Within the period under review, the State Universal Basic Education Board formulated workable strategies to reinforce its supervisory organs at the Board’s headquarters, zonal offices and the local government education authorities.
Itinerary for termly supervision, spot-checks and routine monitoring of primary and junior secondary school was regularly prepared and judiciously followed. Vehicles and logistics were readily provided to enable the Board’s supervisors to function optimally, transverse nooks and crannies as well as difficult terrains to supervise teachers, and monitor school activities. Data gathered from these exercise have guided the Board in the proper planning, management and development of the basic education schools in Ebonyi State.
6. SPORTS DEVELOPMENT:
In 2017, the State Universal Basic Education Board organized all Primary Schools Sports Jamboree. The tournament was sponsored by the State Executive Governor, His Excellency, Chief Engr. David Nweze Umahi.
The competitions held at the local government and zonal levels with the state finals staged at the Pa Ngele Oruta township stadium, Abakaliki. During the fiesta, hidden talents were discovered, and groomed to represent the state in future national sporting competitions that may feature athletics, track and filed events, football event, etc. It is gratifying to state that winners from the zonal and state levels carted away prizes to boost their morale at the grand finale of the tournament.
PROSPECTS AND AREAS OF FURTHER INTERVENTION BY THE STATE GOVERNMENT IN THE BASIC EDUCATION SYSTEM
Admitting and satisfied that impressive impacts have been made by His Excellency in the basic education sub-sector between 2015 and date;
Impressed by the gains inherent in the partnership with the Universal Basic Education Commission, Abuja as evidenced in manifold new school blocks, model primary and junior secondary schools established, furniture and laboratory/library equipment provided and installed as well as sensitive instructional materials procured to enhance teaching and learning is schools;
And committed to the consolidation of the developmental strides enacted in the sector, the State Universal Basic Education Board has taken cognizance of the hiccups on the rungs of the ladder of perfecting the aspirations of the State Governor towards the development of Ebonyi children educationally:
Prominent among the prospects and areas that require further state government interventions in the basic education sub-sector include the following:
1. Procurement of additional instructional materials for distribution to schools to improve academic activities.
2. Provision of more furniture, such as teachers’ tables, chairs, pupils/students desks as well as intro-tech equipment and library facilities.
3. Rehabilitation and construction of more classroom blocks in the basic education schools of the state.
4. Procurement of utility vehicles to strengthen supervision, monitoring of schools and teachers on regular basis.
5. The state government should graciously consider granting of waiver to the State Universal Basic Education Board to recruit teachers who will fill the vacancies created in the basic education system due to death, retirement, resignation and abscondment of some teachers.
6. There should be concerted efforts to procure sporting equipment, organize sports jamboree in primary and junior secondary schools in order to boost sporting activities, discover and harness hidden talents at the grassroots.
7. The rewarding partnership between the State Government and the Universal Basic Education Commission, Abuja as well as other development partners in the basic education projects of Ebonyi State should be sustained towards consolidating on the prevailing infrastructural development and conducive learning environment in our primary and junior secondary schools.
Undoubtedly, the State Universal Basic Education Board, Abakaliki has faired well during the period under review. It has sacrificed its worth, exhibited its relevance in governance and channeled its dynamism towards the holistic transformation of the basic education programme of Ebonyi State
Its determination to serve, defy oppositions and challenges in service has been highlighted through the support and magnanimity of the State Executive Governor, His Excellency, Chief Engr. David Nweze Umahi, FNSE, FNATE who revved the fulcrums for the transformational projects and programmes that are on display in the basic education sub-sector of our nascent Ebonyi State.
The period has revealed unwavering drive, pace-setting machinery, creativity in the management of basic education sub-sectors.
Above all, the mechanisms of integration, collaboration, collective bargaining were readily conceived, adopted and implemented to carve a niche on the sands of time.
The capital intensive projects in schools, prudent management of accrued resources, structural/administrative frameworks provided the formidable pedestals that informed the success story of Ebonyi State Universal Basic Education Board under the directions of High Chief Hyacinth E. Ikpor (KSJI).
Interestingly, the policy formulation with like minds and development partners in the basic education projects of the state were indicators that facilitated the proper organization, management, control/discipline of teachers, pupils and students towards harnessing their skills for the sustainable development of basic education in Ebonyi State.
Indeed, the Board is still poised to project its relevance toward the effective management of the basic education sub-sector, development of Ebonyi children, enhancement of the welfare of teaching and non-teaching staff in its employ.
Finally, the State Universal Basic Education Board has vowed to accord prominence to His Excellency’s directive in all matters affecting basic education, support and complement the efforts of the State Government in actualizing the objectives of the Universal Basic Education programme in Ebonyi State-Salt of the Nation.
The Universal Basic Education (UBE) Programme is a nine (9) year basic educational programme, which was launched and executed by the government and people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to eradicate illiteracy, ignorance and poverty as well as stimulate and accelerate national development, political consciousness and national integration.