Oyo State Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Barr. Abdulrahman Abduraheem has debunked insinuations that the state government was planning to return some schools to their original owners, especially missionaries.
The Commissioner made a clarification of the state government’s position in a statement released during the weekend, adding that the government, at no time indicated its readiness to return schools to their original owners.
Recall on Friday, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) on Friday circulated a statement on social media accusing the ‘Seyi Makinde-Government of returning schools to missionaries describing it as a provocative move.
The Islamic group had posited, “The governor is acting the script written by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). It will fail. Those schools are our common patrimony. He cannot give them out just like that after the government has spent billions of Oyo State taxpayers’ money on adding more, renovating, purchasing equipment and maintaining the infrastructure, paying teachers’ salaries, etc for more than 50 years.
“The idea is to perpetuate the suppression of Muslim children in public schools by claiming that the schools belong to missionaries. These are neo-imperialists seeking all means to remain relevant, powerful, and dominant.
“Yet the so-called missionary schools were built on land belonging to our Muslim forefathers who were deceived by the Christian colonialists into giving out the land ‘gratis’ in most cases. Apart from the land which was given free, our Muslim forefathers also paid tax into the coffers of the colonialists to build the schools”, the group stated.
However, the Commissioner has defended that the only recent event where Governor ‘Seyi Makinde spoke about ownership of schools was at Loyola College during the commissioning of a hall named after the Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, where he only advised members of the Old Students Association to direct their request to the Ministry of Education.
He added that the state government had drawn up a Memorandum of Understanding to guide the planned takeover of Government College, Ibadan, by the Incorporated Trustees of the Government College Ibadan, comprising the Old Students Association and government nominees, adding that the new regime of control at the Government College, Ibadan, is meant to serve as a litmus test for necessary template on the matter.
The statement quoted the Commissioner as saying: “There is clearly no truth to the story making the rounds that the government of Oyo State was about to return all schools to their original owners.
“The government does not have such intention and there was nowhere His Excellency, Governor ‘Seyi Makinde made that statement.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the governor was confronted about a possible return of the Loyola College, Ibadan, to the Old Students Association and he asked the association to direct its request to the Ministry of Education for necessary engagement.
“He did not give any directive on the return of the school or any school, whatsoever”, he added.
The Honourable Commissioner further stated: “It is true that the state has developed a proof of agreement with the Incorporated Trustees of GCIOBA, but that does not in anyway amount to a blanket return of all schools to their original owners.
“While the state will not shy away from productive partnership with stakeholders in the education sector to support its policy of free and qualitative education, it will not take any step capable of upsetting the cord of alliance already existing in a highly treasured sector like education.
“Let me use this opportunity to address some interests who appear bent on twisting the submission of Mr. Governor on this subject upside down to look for other things to do as it is clear they will not succeed in the inglorious path of attempting to whip up religious sentiments on this issue”, the statement concluded.