LIFTING RIVERS VIA EDUCATION: THE PRINCEWILL OPTION
Education has been said to be the bedrock of any sustainable growth and development but unfortunately, most developing nations relegate it to the background even when they pay lip services to the need of strengthening it.
The same effect of relegating education to the background in a nation that is yet to find its bearing in technological development also manifests in the lack luster attitude of Governors at the State level through inept leadership or leaders having not had the benefit of quality education to appreciate its need.
The situation is not better at the third tier of government with the net effect that quality education is talked about in reminisces. Perhaps, the best appreciation of the importance of education lies in those beneficiaries who are living witnesses to the legacy such knowledge bestows on people and the vista it opens in a ken with boundless opportunities. At this level, the excuses about lack of resources are at best lame since the prioritization of decision makers ought to be foundational which education ranks highest.
The state of affairs in Rivers State over the years in terms of human capital development does not depart from the general malaise and therefore calls for urgent action if the people will ever have a true taste of progress and sustainable development. It is at this juncture that the Tonye Princewill's education blue print for Rivers State makes a whole lot of meaning as no society that aims at developing its people toys with education.
But can one give out what he does not possess? – That brings up the question of who is Tonye Princewill – Can we trust him to provide the type of education that will take Rivers State to the next level? His educational background should give an insight to this possibility: Born some 39 years ago (precisely the 4th of January 1969) to the family of HM King Prof. T. J. T. Princewill. He began his formal education in Nigeria at the famous Hillcrest High School Jos from 1976 to 1980. His post primary education saw the young prince at the prestigious Federal Government College, Port Harcourt (1980-1985) where he won a lot of laurels including award as the best English student in the school. With an outstanding performance at the West African School Certificate Examination and the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board exams, the young Tonye enrolled at the University of Port Harcourt the same year he left secondary school, naturally equipped to study and bag a Bachelor's degree in Petroleum Engineering (1985-1990). By 1991, after his youth service, Prince Tonye Princewill had left the shores of Nigeria in search of the Golden Fleece and eventually featured his cap at the Imperial College, London with an M.SC in Postgraduate studies in Mineral Resources Engineering and a Diploma of Imperial College (DIC).He also has qualifications in various subjects from Information Technology to Information Management thereby given himself various options in life from which stands him out not only among his peers but contending candidates for the office of the Governor of Rivers State. From this brief record one can attest that the Prince is an accomplished academician, a regular and seasoned presenter on project management issues and a holder of the prestigious Prince 11 certified practitioner qualification. Armed with this inexhaustible perquisite; the Prince of Rivers State Politics is not only qualified to talk about qualitative education being a proud beneficiary of one but well groomed to take education in Rivers State to the next level. The picture showing the young Prince with his proud parents attests his rich educationalbackground
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The people of Rivers State need education not just for the sake of education but functional education for the sake of development. The state University of Science & Technology, which ought to represent a glowing legacy in the educational development of Rivers State, has lost its glory to neglect and abandonment, as most of its courses are now de-accredited by the Nigeria University Commission (NUC). It is heart-warming that Princewill has a viable agenda for the renewal of the educational curricula and policy of the Rivers State.
The gubernatorial candidate of the Action Congress (AC) in Rivers State, Prince Tonye Princewill is challenged by his past as a great beneficiary of a sound education made possible by his father who is a renowned Professor. He states that even if his people in Rivers State may not have the opportunity of attending the type of schools he attended outside the country (all listed above), he has the vision and means of providing a conducive atmosphere for provision of sound education at all levels for the people of Rivers State immediately he assumes office as the peoples governor duly elected by popular mandate as against the practice of selection and imposition by power scavengers.
He has therefore put together a blueprint for the development of education in the State which he hopes that once it becomes operational, would be constantly improved upon. It has in its agenda, the improvement in quality of education as well as making the cost affordable to all citizens of the State. His policy on education involves ensuring that more Rivers people are given the opportunity to acquire Science/Technology education; and to ensure that the state educational system serves the need of the society by making the products of the system job creators and less of job seekers.
My government will provide strong support for the education of the citizens of Rivers state. We will provide scholarship to deserving student to undertake studies locally and abroad. My administration will also improve on the payment of bursary allowances to students by making the payments regular, timely and more practical by increasing the amount paid to students in tertiary institutions. The state- owned University of Science & Technology would be well funded to enable it upgrade its decaying facilities, brought about by deliberate neglect. We will upgrade facilities in all tertiary institutions in the state. We will renovate and refurbish primary and secondary schools in the state. We will make education compulsory and free in all levels from primary to university. All technical colleges in the state will be reactivated and equipped for effective vocational training. Special schools will be built for people with special needs.
"The Rivers College of Education will be supported to play its role in improving the quality of our teachers. We will provide more infrastructural and learning facilities at the State College of Arts & Sciences, Port Harcourt.
"The conditions of service and remuneration packages for all grades of teachers in our various institutions shall be reviewed. We will implement fully, the programmes of the Universal Basic Education law in the state. We will encourage private and voluntary organizations to establish schools in accordance with government guidelines and regulations. We will ensure the regular and prompt payment of teachers, and of the pensions and gratuities of retired/retiring teachers.
We will encourage adult/ migrant education in the remote areas of the state." he reeled out. Despite the policy programme of the Action Congress governorship candidate, who is still in court pursuing his aspiration to retrieve what he called the "stolen mandate", he observes that "it is a painful thing that Rivers State up till today is one of the educationally less-developed states in the Nigerian Federation". Such a scenario he insists is not acceptable to him considering the enormous resources at the disposal of the State government. "The PDP government under Peter Odili wasted eight years engaging in uncommon donation of the people's wealth to his personal friends and ventures that have no direct bearing on the ell-being of the people and sadly Omehia has adopted the same strategy of inviting hungry agencies and unprincipled politicians to the State to continue to sing his unworthiness before our people", he lamented. Instead of diverting our resources to private pockets we will use them for the common good of our people the Prince stated. We have enough resources to make our State the greatest in Nigeria.
The path of educational re-awakening, he pointed out, is one that the Rivers people cannot afford to ignore. He however said he will be honing the revival strategies he has for the educational sector as one of the pillars of his administration once he reclaims his mandate until the deed is done at the Elections Petition Tribunal.
Eze Chukwuemeka Eze,
Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is a Media Consultant based in Port- Harcourt