Published On: Fri, Jun 21st, 2019

Enforce free, compulsory education, Buhari tells govs

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President Muhammadu Buhari

…Inaugurates Next Level National Economic Council

By Lawrence Olaoye

President Muhammadu Buhari has inaugurated the National Economic Council (NEC) to be chaired by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, for the next four years.
The President in his remarks urged the state governors to “enforce very vigorously” free and compulsory basic education for every child of primary and junior secondary school age.
He also urged them to pay special attention to security, health and agriculture in the next four years of this administration.
Buhari reminded the Governors that providing free and compulsory education is a constitutional provision.
‘‘Section 18(3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended places on all of us here an obligation to eradicate illiteracy and provide free and compulsory education.
‘‘Section 2 of the Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act provides that every Government in Nigeria shall provide free, compulsory and universal basic education for every child of primary and junior secondary school age.
‘‘It is indeed a crime for any parent to keep his child out of school for this period. In my view, when a government fails to provide the schools, teachers and teaching materials necessary for basic education, it is actually aiding and abetting that crime.
‘‘This is, therefore, a call to action. I would like to see every Governor rise from this meeting and rally his local Government Chairmen towards ensuring that our schools offer the right opportunities and provide the needed materials and teachers for basic education, at the minimum.
‘‘If we are able to do this, the benefits will surely manifest themselves,’’ the President said in his 24-paragraph speech at the inaugural session of NEC.
The President told the Governors that successes in the four key areas of education, security, health and agriculture would go a long in lifting Nigerians out poverty, and securing the future for sustainable growth and development.
He called on states to increase their internally generated revenue (IGR),agricultural input and VAT collection in the next four years.
He said “Going forward, States must in the next four years find ways to increase internally generated revenues, improve VAT collection and increase agricultural output without disrupting business activities.
“I also want you to work with the Federal Agencies and the service providers in ensuring that broadband infrastructure is made available all over the country. Information and Communication Technology is the future of work and we must not allow ourselves to be left behind.”
According to him, the Federal Government in the last four years had demonstrated unwavering inclusiveness in dealing with every state, notwithstanding the political leaning of the governor or the predominant party in power at the state level.
He added “ I want this to be your model at the State level. No matter which party we belong to, let us shun divisive policies and join hands together for the upliftment of our people.
He said NEC was established by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999), as amended. By virtue of Section 153 and paragraph 18 of the 3rd Schedule to the Constitution, NEC has the mandate to advise the President on economic policy of the country and in particular, co-ordination of the economic planning efforts, and programmes of the three- tiers of Government.
He observed that during his first term of office, the Council made very significant progress, holding an unprecedented total of 38 meetings and setting up 10 Ad-Hoc Committees to address various issues of national concern.
In the course of its deliberations, Buhari noted that it came up with a total of 173 resolutions, cutting across eight areas, namely;
Agriculture and Solid Minerals;. Investments Promotion and Industrialization; Monetary and fiscal stability; Infrastructur, Health and Education; Revenue Generation Security and support for states.
He, however, urged the NEC Coordination Team to press forward with key initiatives that will strengthen the implementation mechanism, enhance cooperation across states and further promote joint deliberations, peer learning and experience sharing, under a very strong Monitoring and Evaluation Framework.
On Security, Buhari said government will continue to rate security of lives and properties as top priority on our agenda.
He restated the commitment of his administration to securing the territorial integrity of the nation, while confronting the remnants of terrorists, bandits and other criminals across the country.
Stating that there must be collective and deliberate efforts by all to improve the security of lives and properties across the country, he added that security is a bottom to top operation,everybody must be involved for total success.
The President noted that public healthcare is also a major sector of concern where states and local governments have crucial roles to play saying health is an area where the neglect of one person quickly amounts to the neglect of many.
He told the governors that It is in their collective interest that each and every citizen gets at least a minimal access to healthcare, including primary, preventive and emergency care.
Lamenting that funding is again a major problem in this regard, Buhari urged governors to take more seriously the idea of universal health insurance and strive to make it work in their respective domains.
“We must also find ways of assisting the poorest and most vulnerable in our society, who cannot even afford to pay the premium. We must therefore resolve to increase budgetary allocation to health and ensure prompt fund releases to keep the hospitals and primary healthcare centres in operation at all times.
“The Federal Government is now implementing the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund. By this, we hope to achieve at least 65 percent increase in the share of the population covered by primary healthcare by 2023, up from the 12.6 percent we cover at the moment,” he added.
He, urged the states to take agriculture most seriously as a very viable developmental enterprise.

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